Antiquarian Book Blogosphere

Gone with the Wind inscribed by Vivien Leigh

Peter Harrington Bookseller Blog -

“The girl I select must be possessed of the devil and charged with electricity” (G. Cukor, pre-production and casting director of Gone with the Wind)

Vivien Leigh’s journey towards being cast as Scarlett O’Hara in David O. Selznick’s epic production of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind is the stuff of movie legend.

The search for the right actress to play Scarlett was the biggest casting call in the history of cinema, taking two-and-a-half years, with over 1,400 actresses interviewed for the part. But, as shooting began on 10 December 1938, the role had not yet been cast.

That very night, as cameras began rolling for the filming of the iconic “Burning of Atlanta” scene, Selznick was introduced to Vivien Leigh for the first time: he’d finally found his Scarlett O’Hara.

Leigh had been waiting for this moment a long time. The story goes that, having read the novel at Christmas 1936, she’d felt an overwhelming affinity with the lead character and become obsessed with the idea of winning the role in the forthcoming film. Despite her relative obscurity as an actress at the time, her determination never wavered. She was so sure that she would get the part, various biographers have claimed, that she presented copies of the book to her fellow actors on the opening night of the theatrical play she was starring in at the time — two years before she was cast as Scarlett!

Stuff of legend? Well, we have proof-positive that this long-held piece of Scarlett/Vivien folklore is in fact true: a 1937 copy of Gone with the Wind inscribed by Vivien Leigh to one of those very cast members. Until now, none of these copies had come to light.

This is not only a stunning piece of Gone with the Wind memorabilia, but also a testament to Leigh’s self-belief and strength of will in pursuing the role of a lifetime, vindicated by her Oscar-winning performance and the film’s enduring success.

Read on for the full catalogue description.

A grail-like object for Gone with the Wind collectors, this is one of a handful of copies rumoured to have been inscribed by Leigh to her fellow cast members on the opening night of one of her earliest West End appearances. She presented them as a token of her personal certainty and powerful determination that she would be cast as Scarlett O’Hara, the Oscar-winning role that was to establish her as Hollywood’s brightest new star. Asserted by successive biographers but never properly referenced, prior to the emergence of this one the existence of these copies might have been consigned to the apocrypha of wishful Hollywood anecdotage. No other such copy has been traced institutionally or in commerce, and just a single dead-end reference on the net, placing one with a Boston dealer sometime in the distant past, offered evidence of them outside of the pages of the biographies.

This is the fifth printing, published January 1937 (first published May 1936). The book was inscribed shortly after Leigh first read the novel, an apparently sibylline act, but in reality epitomising her insatiable ambition in pursuit of securing her iconic role. Leigh had discovered Gone with the Wind over the Christmas 1936 holiday during her recuperation from a skiing accident, and she read it as rehearsals started for Because We Must, “a light effort by playwright Ingaret Giffard” in which she played Pamela Golding-Ffrench, her first lead role in a West End play (Edwards, p. 73). “Her enthusiasm for Gone with the Wind grew every day as she voraciously read through the 1,000 pages” (Capua, p. 36). Anthony Holden asserts that “the most memorable thing about the first night of Because we must … was that she happened to give all her fellow members of the cast copies of a new novel she had just read, Gone with the Wind, with whose heroine she felt a strong and urgent sympathy” (Holden, 1988).

She inscribed this copy on the front pastedown to Anthony Ireland, who played Hugh Greatorex: “Anthony Ireland, from Vivien Leigh. (Because we must.) February 5th 1937.” Ireland was hastily cast, “commandeered from rehearsals of As You Like It” the day before the opening night, as a last-minute replacement for the actor Anthony Bruce, who had been taken ill with appendicitis (Variety, 7 February 1937, p. 4). The play was short-lived, running 5–20 February, and “Vivien’s role was the only dimensional and theatrical one in the play. Need overbalanced judgment, for it is doubtful that she would have accepted the part in view of her lack of belief in the play’s merits if she thought there was another choice” (Edwards, p. 73).

It is interesting that her handwriting here is very neat and controlled. It’s a significant contrast to her later handwriting, which, though still legible, became much more scrawling. The change in how she wrote “Leigh” for example, is demonstrated below. The first image, taken from her 1932 appointment diary, shows her pre-fame hand: it’s neat and closely written. The second, a copy of Gone with the Wind signed by the entire cast, displays a much spikier, more scrawling hand — this is the hand autograph collectors will be more accustomed to seeing.


(left) One of Vivien Leigh’s appointment books (currently held in the V&A) used to match the hand to the ‘Because we must’ copy (right)

Gone with the Wind signed by the entire cast (image via The Hollywood Reporter)

The mythical status of these presentations was almost confirmed, entirely incorrectly, when the inscription in the present copy was rejected by a London auction house as being in a hand other than Leigh’s. However, close comparison with Leigh’s contemporary appointment diaries in the V&A shows a perfect match. By undertaking a thorough examination of those diaries, our experts were able to authenticate this as being entirely in her hand at the time of presentation.

Ironically, just two nights before she inscribed this copy, David Selznick had noted “I have no enthusiasm for Vivien Leigh” in a cable to his New York production executive (Spicer, p. 166). Her agent John Gliddon relayed the news, but Leigh nevertheless remained unwavering in her conviction that the role would be hers. Caroline Lejeune, The Observer’s film critic, vividly recalled a conversation in mid-1937 about the casting of Gone with the Wind, in which it was suggested that Olivier could play Rhett Butler. Leigh drew herself up, and foretold: “Larry won’t play Rhett Butler, but I shall play Scarlett O’Hara. Wait and see.” (Spicer, p. 166).

It is difficult to imagine a piece more eloquently evocative of her defiant certainty. Whether the myth exaggerated Leigh’s generosity, and that this was in fact the only copy that she presented, cannot be asserted definitively. However it is the only known surviving example, and the absolute confirmation of this celebrated demonstration of Leigh’s almost uncanny certainty.

The mythical status of these presentations was almost confirmed, entirely incorrectly, when the inscription in the present copy was rejected by a London auction house as being in a hand other than Leigh’s. However, close comparison with Leigh’s contemporary appointment diaries in the V&A shows a perfect match. By undertaking a thorough examination of those diaries, our experts were able to authenticate this as being entirely in her hand at the time of presentation.

Ironically, just two nights before she inscribed this copy, David Selznick had noted “I have no enthusiasm for Vivien Leigh” in a cable to his New York production executive. Her agent John Gliddon relayed the news, but Leigh nevertheless remained unwavering in her conviction that the role would be hers. Caroline Lejeune, The Observer’s film critic, vividly recalled a conversation in mid-1937 about the casting of Gone with the Wind, in which it was suggested that Olivier could play Rhett Butler. Leigh drew herself up, and foretold: “Larry won’t play Rhett Butler, but I shall play Scarlett O’Hara. Wait and see.”

It is difficult to imagine a piece more eloquently evocative of her defiant certainty. Whether the myth exaggerated Leigh’s generosity, and that this was in fact the only copy that she presented, cannot be asserted definitively. However it is the only known surviving example, and the absolute confirmation of this celebrated demonstration of Leigh’s almost uncanny certainty.


Capua, Vivien Leigh: A Biography, 2003; Edwards, Vivien Leigh, 1978; Holden, Olivier, 1988; Spicer, Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography; Variety, New York, Wednesday 17 February 1937 (“Appendicitis seized Anthony Bruce on eve of production of Because We Must at Wyndham’s. Anthony Ireland hastily commandeered from rehearsals of As You Like It and show opened the following night”).

History is a Nightclub: Downtown AREA, NYC, 1983-87

Peter Harrington Bookseller Blog -

An Exhibition of Never-Before-Seen Photography by Ben Buchanan Peter Harrington, 43 Dover Street, 3rd – 31st October

We are pleased to announce that we will shortly be exhibiting a series of remarkable and previously unseen photographs depicting a pivotal moment in the history of modern art: the Downtown club scene in 1980s New York. These candid images of of Basquiat, Warhol, Haring and Hockney at play – alongside celebrity friends such as Tom Waits, The Beastie Boys, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Grace Jones – were taken by Ben Buchanan during his time working as in-house photographer for the legendary Area nightclub.

“I had turned up at AREA looking for a job,” says Buchanan, “and they gave me a camera I had no idea how to use and they told me to point it at anything interesting.”

“It was the club that everyone wanted to get into – even the invitations to each theme were inventive and covetable, while the decorations were often brought in from movie sets.”

Re-imagining itself every few months and often appealing to its artist patrons for help in the redecorations, Area was a hub for luminaries of the art, fashion and media world. Grace Jones can be seen posing with a stuffed lion on her brithday, during the club’s Natural History incarnation, while Jean-Michel Basquiat – whose work is currently enjoying its first full-scale UK exhibition at the Barbican – is seen variously DJ-ing, embracing Andy Warhol and painting a canvas. “They were always creating something, even when they were relaxing,” says Buchanan.

All the photographs on display will be signed limited edition prints annotated by the photographer, and will be offered for sale by Peter Harrington from the 3rd October onward.

Balmorality: the romanticisation of Scotland

Peter Harrington Bookseller Blog -

A glance at any packet of shortbread will probably tell you that the romanticised myth of Scotland is alive and well; brooding heather covered landscapes, noble stags, swathes of tartan and claymore-toting clan chieftains still form the mainstay of stereotypical Scottish imagery. These persistent symbols of Scottishness, while seemingly drawing their aesthetic inspiration from a bygone age of clans, ceilidhs and castles, actually didn’t enter the cultural consciousness until the eighteenth century, filtering down from an increased interest in Scotland by the British monarchy. ‘Balmorality’, a term named for Queen Victoria’s Scottish residence and her general embrace of Highland life, encompasses the arguably superficial enthusiasm for all things sterotypically Scottish which has emerged both in Britain and throughout the rest of the world over the past two centuries.

The romanticisation of Scotland can be most definitively linked in literature with the work of two men: the Ossian cycle of epic poems by Scottish poet James Macpherson, and the Waverly novels of Sir Walter Scott. The first of the Waverley novels was published in 1814 and was set during the Jacobite uprising which took place almost a century earlier. The novels were so popular that Scott was propelled to fame, and was invited to dine with King George IV, (then Prince Regent). When, several years later, the Scottish ‘Radical War’ of 1820, inspired by the American and French Revolutions, caused King George to plan the first royal visit to Scotland in over two hundred years in an effort to quell unrest, it was Scott he called on to carefully stage manage the visit. By now a baronet with numerous valuable connections to Scottish nobility, Scott saw the opportunity both to avert an uprising and to promote highland culture. He reasoned that, because of George’s lineage, the king could legitimately claim as much Stuart heritage as Bonnie Prince Charlie and could thus present himself as a Jacobite prince, properly accoutred Royal Stuart tartan. Kilts at this time were no longer generally worn, having been banned by the Dress Act of 1746, which made the wearing of ‘Highland dress’ illegal. Though the act was repealed in 1782, kilts had only come back into fashion with the Scottish gentry, a number of whom set up ‘Highland Societies’; clubs for landowners which championed (along with what they called “improvements’ –the Highland Clearances) “the general use of the ancient Highland dress” at meetings. Scott was the enthusiastic chairman of just such an association – the Celtic Society of Edinburgh – and attended meetings in “the garb of old Gaul”. For the king to appear so attired was not only an attempt to appeal to the heritage of the Scottish people but also to gloss over old wrongs.

George’s visit sparked an interest in Scottish dress, and, in its wake, the demand for kilts grew so high that Scottish weaving mills were unable to cope with the demand. It was in this period that (contrary to the generally assumed belief that individualised tartans are a much older tradition) many of the clan tartans were designated.


Walter Scott, The Waverley Novels, 1893-4.

Complete in 48 volumes, edition de Grand Luxe of Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels, number 352 of 500 super-deluxe sets. Estes and Lauriat also issued an “edition de luxe” of 1,000 sets, though this is the far grander and more limited edition, presented here as a magnificently bound library set. Though the bookplates in this set are numbered, sequentially, vols. 16-63 (presumably because Frederick E. Reed had 15 other volumes, not included here, of Scott’s poems and works from different editions bound with these Waverley Novels a single library set), this set nonetheless constitutes Estes & Lauriat’s Edition de Grand Luxe of Scott’s Waverley Novels, complete as issued.


Walter Scott, Marmion: a Tale of Flodden Field, 1809.

First edition thus, the first illustrated and first London edition (Marmion was first printed in Edinburgh in 1808) of Scott’s 16th-century Scottish tale, here embellished with engravings by Richard Westall, and this copy exquisitely bound by Taylor & Hessey.


Landscape Illustrations of the Waverley Novels, 1834.

New edition of this collection of landscape illustrations from Walter Scott’s popular series of novels. Each plate is accompanied by an excerpt from the text and explanation of the image by the artist. Contributors include G. Cattermole, P. Dewint, J. D. Harding, and G. F. Robson, amongst other successful landscape artists, their work etched by the Findens with the “elaborate finish and precision for which their work had become known” (ODNB).


The popularity of the romanticised view of Scotland, along with the natural association of the British monarchy, endured throughout the reign of William IV, George’s successor, and was solidified by Queen Victoria who, perhaps more than any other single person, promoted a vision of Highland culture and an international enthusiasm for Scottish tourism, which for good or ill, has endured to the present day.

In 1847, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert acquired the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire. Balmoral castle was commissioned in 1852 the replace the original house, which was deemed too small for a royal residence. The design was to be a consummate example of Scots Baronial architecture, though it was amended personally by Prince Albert who apparently held very specific opinions about details such as turrets and windows. As a consequence, it has been judged by some as having a slightly Germanic look (unsurprising, as the surrounding landscape of Deeside was itself chosen partly because it reminded the royal couple of Albert’s homeland of Thuringia in Germany). The melding of architectural styles had an undeniably romantic effect – crow-step gables, battlements, towers and crucifix arrow slits giving the impression of a small fortified keep long past the time when such features served any practical purpose. The interior of the house was decked out almost in a pastiche of Scottish baronial style, with copious amounts of tartan and numerous game trophies.

Victoria and Albert took great delight in their Scottish residence, commissioning numerous painters to capture aspects of the house and estate over the years and personally overseeing the management and development of the land. After Albert’s death in 1861, it was to Balmoral that Victoria increasingly retreated, taking solace in the isolation and the Highland culture she had come to feel an affinity for. Long before the purchase of Balmoral, Victoria had been an avid reader of Scott, and had a healthily developed appreciation for the picturesque aspects of peasant life that were a feature of the wider Romantic Movement, and which found full expression in her admiration of what she saw as the simple and honest life of the tenants of her estate. It was also at Balmoral that Victoria began her controversial friendship with John Brown, the servant whose exact relationship with the queen is still discussed with avidity.


R. R. McIan, Lithographs from Clans of the Scottish Highlands, 1845.

James Logan’s Clans of the Scottish Highlands was the first illustrated work depicting and describing each clan, along with its history and tartan. The work was dedicated to Queen Victoria. McIan was primarily an actor, as well as a Highlander and “fierce Jacobite”, and his theatrical background is evident in his depictions of Highland costume.


Edmondstoune William Aytoun, Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers, 1870.

Presentation copy from Victoria’s favourite daughter, Princess Beatrice, to the queen’s favourite servant, John Brown, inscribed by the princess on the front blank, “To John Brown, with best wishes for the season, from Beatrice, Xmas. 1874”. An intriguing association: Brown (18261883) had been a significant feature in the royal household for the majority of Beatrice’s life, having been selected by Prince Albert to be Victoria’s personal servant in Scotland in 1858. The Scotsman quickly became indispensable to Victoria after Albert’s death in 1861, becoming the cause of salacious gossip and familial tensions. Beatrice (18571944) is often considered to have been the closest of Victoria’s children to Brown, spending considerable time in his company, notably in Balmoral, and helping him to carry out her mother’s wishes in her role as “the prop, comfort and companion” of Victoria. Victoria found solace in both Beatrice and Brown after Albert’s death, being “over-protective of her ‘Baby’ until she was well into adult life” (ODNB).

Aytoun’s Lays, first published in 1849, are modelled on the works of Macaulay and Scott and “became important texts in the romantic revival in mid-Victorian Scotland”, a movement which Victoria’s passion for Scotland, first fired by her 1842 visit with Albert, did much to encourage (ibid.). Indeed Queen Victoria was presented a copy of an earlier edition of the same work by Prince Albert, later Edward VII, and his wife Alexandra, in 1865.


In imitation of the Queen, Scotland became a fashionable Victorian holiday destination, creating a thriving tourist industry which endures today. A few aesthetic aspects of Highland life beloved by Victoria – tartan, mountainous landscapes, bagpipes and traditional dancing – have inevitably become synonymous with the whole of Scotland in the eyes of the rest of the world. Inspiring, conversely, both rallying points for national pride and ire at the reduction of the diverse culture of a nation to ‘tartan kitsch’, this romanticisation of Scotland remains a part of the ongoing conversation about Scottish national identity shaping British politics today.

“Dear Boys and Girls”: Enid Blyton’s personal brand

Peter Harrington Bookseller Blog -

Whether its a debate on whether her novels ought to be updated for the 21st century or a series of parodies for the post-Brexit world, Enid Blyton remains a staple of the cultural canon. Despite dated language and objectionable attitudes to gender, class and race which occasionally mar the fun for a modern reader, her books still largely inform the conception of what British children’s fiction ought to be: plots full of mystery, intrigue and adventure, emphasis on a moral code of courage and friendship and, of course, sumptuous descriptions of tuck shop snacks, picnics and midnight feasts. The enduring popularity of such themes with young readers can be read, for example, in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, which offers an update on the boarding school novel, with a cast of young friends out to foil the plots of wicked adults (albeit with higher stakes and a more complex moral message).

Five on a Treasure Island, 1942. First edition of the first book in the Famous Five series.

It was, perhaps, Blyton too who provided the pattern for the modern day superstar children’s author that Rowling and others such as Jacqueline Wilson and Philip Pullman currently embody – not only the creators of a much-beloved world on the page but also active public figures, engaging with a community of young fans. In a time before social media, and when publishers hadn’t yet developed the sophisticated process of book tie-ins, simultaneous social media campaigning and publicity events deployed on the publication of any significant children’s book now, Blyton was a one-woman marketing team. Blyton lore has it that she answered every piece of fan-mail she ever received, paying attention to feedback from readers and parents and incorporating their wishes into her writing. Short messages printed in her own handwriting and addressed directly to her readers began to appear of the dust jackets of each of her Famous Five novels, explaining for example, that many fans had asked for a novel entitled Five Go Down to the Sea so she had written one for them, or expressing her fervent hope that they will enjoy her latest offering. Blyton herself said, in a radio interview 1963, that “the most important quality I possess is my ability to get right to the hearts of children”.

Five Go to Mystery Moor, 1954.


Five Have Plenty of Fun, 1955.

Her apparent direct line into the child psyche, however, masks the sensibilities of a shrewd business woman. Her immense output – over 400 books in her lifetime – demonstrates an intelligent publication strategy, with different series written to correspond with successive reading stages, inviting children to progress from one to the next as their reading level developed. She was also an early example of an author with an understanding of promoting her personal brand, overseeing the design of each book and ensuring that her distinctive signature, rather than simply a typed author name, was placed prominently on the cover of each book. She started a weekly magazine, Sunny Stories, published between 1937 and 1953, with which she kept her fans fed with a steady trickle of Blyton content and in which she could address them directly in her characteristic cosy tone: “Dear Boys and Girls — … I am going to write your stories for you just as I have always done…What fun we shall have! I want you to help me too.”



From Enid Blyton’s Sunny Stories, No. 39, October 8, 1937 Image c/o The Enid Blyton Society.

She would occasionally reference her own daughters in these little letters to her fans – “Wouldn’t you love to have a secret island of your own? Gillian would, I know” – and her brand was built on her image as the perfect mummy, always in on her children’s games. The reality, it seems, was somewhat different. In 1989 Imogen, Blyton’s youngest daughter, published her memoir, A Childhood at Green Hedges, which paints a picture at odds with Blyton’s carefully cultivated public persona. “The truth is, Enid Blyton was arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct…As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult, I did not hate her. I pitied her.” Blyton also apparently carefully stage-managed her divorce from her first husband to limit any damage to her reputation, making a deal with him that if he would agree to let her divorce him quietly, she would grant him access to their children. For whatever reason, however, this bargain was not upheld, and neither of the girls had any relationship with their father after the divorce.

Five are Together Again, 1963.
Five Have A Mystery to Solve, 1962.

Speculators have wondered whether Blyton’s ability to communicate so successfully with her young fans and her seeming disinterest in her own family might be a consequence of her own child-like personality. Her books create a childhood idyll of sunny days, bike rides through unspoiled English countryside, low-stakes adventure and plenty of good things to eat – a safe world in which to forget the troubles of real life. Some accounts suggest that Blyton’s escapist narratives were created for herself as much as for her readers – that she preferred dreaming up new japes for Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy than engaging in the escapades of everyday domestic life. Her child-like imagination could apparently sometimes manifest itself as childish impatience and temper.  “Her approach to life was childlike, and she could be spiteful, like a teenager” says Imogen in Green Hedges.

Nevertheless, Blyton’s books seem to capture something essential in the imaginations of children and the basic ingredients of her books – escapism, fantastical and idealised worlds, adventure, a lack of adult supervision – still form the mainstays of children’s fiction. An attempt to deal with some of the weightier criticisms of her work – her outdated language and attitudes – saw her current publisher, Hodder, make plans to overhaul the text, which would have seen “housemistress” becoming “teacher”, “awful swotter” becoming “bookworm”, “mother and father” becoming “mum and dad” and “tinker” becoming “traveller”. However, these plans were abandoned due to the negative feedback they received from readers on the updated versions and Blyton’s original text, warts and all, has prevailed.

Five Go Adventuring Again, 1943.
Five Go Down to the Sea, 1953.

The book huntresses: Women Bibliophiles

Peter Harrington Bookseller Blog -


In his 1930 work on book collecting, Anatomy of Bibliomania, Holbrook Jackson claimed that “book love is as masculine (although not as common) as growing a beard.” Times have changed; the recent inauguration of a new book collecting prize by New York bookseller Honey & Wax, “an annual prize of $1000 to be awarded to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman”, is possibly the final nail in the coffin of the idea that bibliophilia is a man’s pursuit.

It is of course true that, historically, the best-known libraries have belonged to men. Book collecting as a hobby gained popularity in the late seventeenth century and, through the next two hundred years, was pursued as avidly as any sport by men of learning. These ‘book hunters’ were celebrated publicly for their collections, discussing and trading books in clubs, coffee houses and academic spaces – forums from which women were mostly excluded. It is only in the last century or so that women, broadly speaking, have gained access to the financial, social and academic freedom required to become collectors in their own right, and even more recently that their passions and efforts as collectors have been given credence in the male dominated narrative of bibliophilia. Yet, it would be misleading to believe that female collectors were an entirely unheard-of phenomenon in the past. Despite the odds being stacked against them, numerous women have risen to pre-eminent positions in the history of book collecting, though their names or pursuits may not be readily remembered.

Frances Mary Richardson Currer, John James Masquerier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From Fatima al-Fehri, who founded what is now the world’s oldest functioning library in 859 CE, to Queen Elizabeth I, whose passion for books saw her lavishly hand-embroider several of her own collection, historical role models for women collectors are present, if not abundant. But perhaps one of the earliest British bibliophiles whose collection received some of its due recognition in her day was Frances Mary Richardson Currer.

Declared by the Times in 1906 to be “the greatest woman book collector” no less, Currer had inherited a substantial library, but its expansion and curation was clearly a labour of love throughout her life.  She lived at Eshton Hall in Yorkshire, not far from the Brontës at Haworth, and was known in the area as a social philanthropist. She was the generous patroness of the local school attended by the Brontë sisters and there is evidence to suggest she aided the family through a time of financial hardship. It is likely that Charlotte Brontë’s pen name, Currer Bell, under which she first published her poems and novels, acknowledges this debt of gratitude.

BRONTË, Charlotte. Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. By Currer Bell. London Smith, Elder & Co., 1848

Currer’s library was, according to W. Roberts in his 1895 book on collectors The Book Hunter in London, “especially strong in British history” and was “also rich in natural science, topography, and antiquities.” She added to it extensively over her lifetime, and was a prolific reader of new titles. Her collection was deemed by eminent bibliophile Thomas Frognall Dibdin to be one of the finest domestic libraries in Europe, surpassed only in England by less than a handful of old established collections. Currer was in contact with many famed bibliophiles of the period: Thomas Phillips, who amassed a collection of manuscripts which numbered over 60,000; Richard Herber, one of the founders of the Roxburghe Club, one of the first ever book clubs; and with Dibden himself. Dibden regularly produced almanacs listing notable bibliophiles of the era and detailing their collections. However, Currer is notably absent from all these, as well as from most similar lists of collectors which appeared around the time. While the elision of women’s contribution to one area of history or another is a sad but inescapable fact, it seems that Currer herself was a collaborator in her own anonymity. Dibden, with whom she enjoyed a lengthy and fond correspondence, regularly begged her to let him include her library in his almanacs. On his specific request for a portrait of her to include in a forthcoming book entitled Bibliomania, she responded ‘I don’t doubt the book will be an amusing one — and to have the Portraits of Gentlemen in it is very proper, but I don’t think it would be pleasant for me to be in the gallery — the only Lady — so very conspicuous!…Moderate notoriety is by no means desirable for a woman’.

Engraving of Eshton Hall Library, produced for a catalogue of her collection that Currer had printed in 1833.

That Currer should be so aware of the cultural bias against women bibliophiles as to foresee damage to her reputation to be thus ‘outed’ is, of course, regrettable, and is indicative of an attitude which, along with wilful exclusion, sheds some light on why accounts of women as book collectors have been so rare historically. Currer was, however, by no means the first, and certainly not the last, and there are many names which deserve recognition. In the 11th century Countess Judith of Flanders collected and commissioned a great number of illuminated manuscripts which she bequeathed to Weingarten Abbey. Several well-known historic figures, including Marguerite of Navarre, Madame du Barry, Marie Antoinette, Mary Stuart and Catherine de Medici, were passionate collectors of books and manuscripts, though this fact is rarely remembered in the generally received accounts of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most significant figures in 20th century women’s book collecting is Belle da Costa Greene. Turning her passion into profession, Greene was the librarian to J. P. Morgan for 43 years and, when the private collection was incorporated by the State of New York as a library for public uses, was appointed the first director of the renowned Pierpont Morgan Library.

Belle da Costa Greene. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Greene was the daughter of Richard Theodore Greener, an attorney and the first black graduate of Harvard University. Her parents had an unhappy marriage and, after their separation, Belle and her siblings changed their name to distance themselves from their well-known father. In a climate of racial prejudice, Belle invented a false Portuguese ancestry for herself, concealing her African-American heritage and passing as white for most of her life. In 1906, his collection having exceeded the size of his large study, the financier John Pierpont Morgan was looking for a librarian to organise and expand his personal library. Fortuitously, Belle, who was barely twenty but had nurtured a passion for books and illuminated manuscripts from her youth, was introduced to Morgan and engaged her as librarian. She undertook her task with zeal, aiming to make Morgan’s library “pre-eminent, especially for incunabula, manuscripts, bindings, and the classics.” With the significant resources of Morgan’s fortune at her disposal, Belle became one of the most powerful figures in the New York book world, and helped build one of the finest libraries in the world.

As the books acquired by Greene for Morgan are largely still held in trust by the Pierpont Morgan library, it would be extremely rare for one appear on the market. Currer’s library at Eshton Hall, however, was dispersed in 1919 and many of her books, bearing her heraldic bookplate, do come up for sale every so often. We are lucky to have a few currently amongst our stock.

The bookplate of Frances Mary Richardson Currer


(RHETORIC.) QUINTILIANUS, M. Fabius. De Institutione Oratoria libri duodecim ad codicum veterum fidem recensuit et annotatione explanavit Georg. Ludovicus Spalding A.M. 1798.

This large paper copy of the best edition of Quintilian on rhetoric is the outstanding work of the German philologist Georg Ludwig Spalding. The binder John Clarke was “one of the best and most prolific London binders of the period” (Ramsden), who was binding from about 1820 to 1859. He joined in partnership with Francis Bedford in 1841 and they worked together until 1859, from when Bedford worked on his own. Nothing is recorded of Clarke after this date. Originally from the library of Theodore Williams and with his supralibros stamped on the cover of each book, Currer has added her bookplate to the front inside boards.


EDGEWORTH, Maria. Tales of Fashionable Life. 1809.

First edition of both series of tales, which feature stories in which a woman’s life is the predominant theme. Maria Edgeworth was the leading Irish intellectual woman and the most commercially successful novelist of her age, vying with Jane Austen in terms of contemporary critical esteem. Currer’s bookplates appear in each volume of the set.


LAYARD, Austen H. Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon; 1853

Sir Austen Henry Layard was a leading nineteenth century British archaeologist specialising in ancient Mesopotamia and Assyrian civilisation. This book, part travel writing, part archaeological study, follows Layard’s second British Museum exhibition which yielded many important discoveries about Assyrian culture. The original cloth binding is particularly decorative and bears and image of the Winged Bull of Nineveh across the spine and boards.


HAFIZ, Shams al-Din Muhammad.  Specimen Poeseos Persicae, 1771.

First edition of any substantial part of the Hafiz corpus in the original Persian, compiled by Austro-Hungarian diplomat and Persianist Count Karl Emmerich Reviczky (17371793). Hafiz is said to represent “the zenith of Persian lyric poetry” (Encyclopaedia Iranica). this volume bears both Currer’s bookplate and that of her maternal grandfather Matthew Wilson, indicating that it is one she inherited with the rest of the library.


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The Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo and Paper Fair4 – 5 October 2017

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Date: 4 – 5 October 2017 Location: Pasadena Center, Pasadena, California Website: Many quality exhibitors will participate in The Pasadena Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo and Paper Fair, for two days only at the Pasadena Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall B. new balance dziecięce Exhibitors will display and offer for sale a wide variety of Antiquarian rare and modern first edition books, prints, posters, vintage photographs, autographs, fine graphics, maps, manuscripts and many unique pieces of ephemera. Peyton Manning Jerseys The seasoned enthusiast, beginning collector or someone just browsing should not miss this extraordinary opportunity to experience so many fine collections all in one location. Nike Air Max 2016 Heren zwart The Pasadena Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo & Paper Fair, Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm General Admission $8. Maglie Phoenix Suns Senior Citizens (62+ years) $5.00. new balance 1400 invincible Children under 12 free. Nike Air Max 1 Heren Free Return Privileges. New Balance 999 hombre The Pasadena Convention Center, 300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA. Soldes Chaussures Nike Ample parking is available. Adidas NMD Dames beige The Pasadena Convention Center’s telephone number for general Information is (626) 793-2122…Read more.

Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair8 – 10 September 2017

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Date: 22 – 23 Apr 2017 Location: Brooklyn Expo Center, 79 Franklin St, nike air jordan 13 mujer Greenpoint, adidas tubular damskie Brooklyn, NY. Website: Friday September 8th 5-9pm Saturday September 9th 11am – 7pm Sunday September 10th 11am-5pm

One of the country’s largest regional antiquarian book fairs comes to Brooklyn each fall. Derrick Henry Jerseys The fourth edition of BABF will bring 100 quality antiquarian book and ephemera dealers along with a new “Works on Paper” gallery featuring top dealers of prints, Nike Air Max 2017 Dames drawings, Adidas Superstar Heren etchings, nike air max 2017 pas cher femme engravings, Solde yeezy boost lithographs, adidas superstar damskie and photography from all over the country, Asics Gel Nimbus 18 Dames Canada and Europe. The new Brooklyn Expo Center is easily accessible from all parts of Brooklyn, nike tn requin pas cher Manhattan and beyond.

Melbourne Rare Book Fair7 – 9 July 2017

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Date: 7 – 9 July 2017 Location: Wilson Hall, nike air max 2016 online The University of Melbourne Website: Leading Australian and international antiquarian booksellers will bring a rich and diverse array of books together that cater for all who genuinely love print on paper and who share a passion for books. nike air max 1 ultra moire donna Subjects including early printed books, maps, historical accounts of travel and exploration, Air Jordan 13 (XIII) prints, Nike Air Max 2017 Heren grijs literature, Soldes Asics 2017 art, air max pas cher militaria, children’s books, and ephemera will be offered for sale at prices to suit all levels of collecting. Nike Air Max Très pas cher Whether you already have your own personal library and wish to add to it, nike scarpe italia or would like to know more about the world of book collecting, Asics Tiger męskie this is your opportunity to explore the world of books with experts in their fields…Read more.

Infernal Method: William Blake Facsimiles from The Trianon Press

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If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. air max pas cher This I shall do by printing in the infernal method by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid. – William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Engraver by profession and prophet by vocation, William Blake was opposed to print publishing, believing that the mechanisation of the industry was reducing art to a mass commodity. fjällräven kånken Klassiska Reviving the illuminated manuscript, Blake produced his own works through a painstaking method of etching onto copper plates with corrosive acid. Nike Air Max 2016 Dames blauw These were never intended for general sale and were necessarily limited to extremely small numbers by reason of his labour intensive methods, and thus few of the original illuminated books made in the late 18th and early 19th century have survived. New Balance 247 męskie Those that have are largely held by libraries and thus not easily accessible. new balance 574 damskie In one of the most remarkable literary projects of the 20th century, the William Blake Trust established the Trianon Press with the intention of creating faithful reproductions Blake’s works, in order that the consumer might experience them as their maker had originally intended. Cheap Nike Trainers UK These exceptional facsimiles were issued throughout the 1950s and 60s by the Trianon Press. Maglia Chris Paul Sir Geoffrey Keynes, one of the trustees, had seen at an exhibition in Boston some extraordinary facsimiles of Cezanne’s watercolours, and the idea to reproduce Blake’s works as closely as possible in quality and form to the originals was born between himself and Arnold Fawcus, the Press’ founder. sac a dos fjallraven soldes Hand-stencilled and hand-coloured, the books were produced at great expense and with great attention to detail, and printed on Arches pure rag paper, made especially to match that used by Blake. Sac Kanken These are just a few highlights from our collection of Trianon Press facsimiles. Asics Pas Cher Many of the items in our stock were Fawcus’ own personal.

The Economy of Nature: Conservationist writers

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Nature writing, it seems, is more popular than ever. Books about getting back to the natural world, from which technology and modern urban living have estranged us, have dominated the non-fiction bestseller charts for the last couple of years, elevating writers such as Robert Macfarlane and Cheryl Strayed to near-celebrity status. stan smith adidas dames Criticisms of the authenticity and motivation behind writing about nature has long been a part of its reception: John Clare accused Keats of an urban sentimentality towards the countryside, which caused him to portray “nature as she … appeared in his fancys & not as he would have described her if he had witnessed the things he describes”. The recent profusion and success of ‘new nature writing’ has similarly caused some to question its effectiveness in inspiring positive social and political change in attitudes towards the environment, fearing instead that it has the potential to be merely a form of “bourgeois escapism”. Whatever their reception, contemporary nature writers inherit a formidable literary tradition which includes Gilbert White, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and the Romantic poets, whose audacious project was to write not of man’s relationship to man, but man’s relationship to the ground on which he stood. Not all nature writing is conservationist writing, of course. Nick Marshall – Auburn Tigers Jerseys However, a more thoughtful relationship with the natural world, such as that which might be inspired by literature, does tend to lead to a more thoughtful attitude towards how human activity may negatively impact the non-human world. The writers in this list are those whose conservationist sentiments are not only evident in the pages of their books but often went beyond them, and who have helped to shape the face of modern environmentalism.   Beatrix Potter, Deluxe Editions (London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1902) Few writers can be credited with having more directly shaped a landscape than Beatrix Potter. Not only do her “little books” continue to inspire generations of children to curiosity about nature through her anthropomorphic animal characters, but Potter dedicated the fortune she made from their success to conserving the little clutch of Cumbrian hills and valleys she came to call home. Potter was a woman of many interests: natural history, mycology, botany, archaeology, fossils and farming all fascinated her. Since her childhood holidays in the Lake District and Scotland she recorded what found in watercolours and sketches. Vêtements Armani Pas Cher Her studies of mushrooms eventually numbered over 250, and in 1897 she presented a paper entitled ‘On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae‘. (There is a common misconception that this paper was rejected by the society. In fact, it was read on her behalf in April of that year, Potter being prohibited from attending the meeting in person because she was a woman).

Beatrix Potter by Charles G.Y. King (1854-1937)
Hill Top Farm, Near Sawrey, Cumbria by Marion Dutcher

Hirneola Auricula-Judae by Beatrix Potter, 1898. Courtesy of the Armitt Trust, The Armitt Museum and Library, Ambleside.

Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, the first secretary and founding member of the National Trust, was Potter’s long-time friend and mentor. She shared his views on the conservation of landscapes and the protection of traditional Lakeland crafts and farming methods. She and her husband, William Heelis, became partners with the Trust in buying up farmland, forest and fell to safeguard them from developers. Potter was a shrewd business woman, often using her contacts and influence to acquire land before its sale was made public, which earned her a certain amount of criticism. new balance 530 homme soldes Her legacy, however, has been instrumental in the formation of the modern-day Lake District National Park. The 4,000 acres of land in her possession on her death left to the National Trust, along with several farms, cottages and all her sheep and cattle. Chaussure Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11

Gene Stratton-Porter, photographed in the boots and breeches that so scandalised her neighbours

Gene Stratton Porter, Moths of the Limberlost (Garden City, New York Doubleday, Page & Company, 1916) Another writer of fiction firmly linked to the landscape she helped to protect, Stratton-Porter is best known for her novel A Girl of the Limberlost. Like Potter, Stratton-Porter was also a keen naturalist, specialising in the birds and moths of Limberlost Swamp which she called home for several years. She also became an early wildlife photographer, to better document the ecosystems of the swamp. The popularity of Stratton-Porter’s novels brought financial success and notoriety and, like Potter, she used her fortune and position to emphasize her conservationist views, contributing articles and photography to wildlife magazines and publishing numerous books on natural history. She was destined, however, to witness the gradual ecological destruction of her beloved swamp by encroaching industry and agriculture, and the eventual draining of the swampland in 1912. Saddened by the destruction of the swamp’s natural habitats, Stratton-Porter and her family moved away. fjällräven kånken big However, she journeyed the surrounding Indiana swamps extensively, collecting samples of wildflowers to preserve before they were destroyed by development, and it is her work that has ensured the endurance of many of these wildflower types. She also lent her support to the group which opposed the draining of the Mississippi Bottom lands for use a farm land, writing to President Coolidge to express the futility of the project from a scientific point of view.

Images from Moths of the Limberlost

Stratton-Porter did not live to see the restoration of the Limberlost Swamp which allowed water back onto the land and replanted many native trees and shrubs in 1997.  

Rachel Carson, official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962) Rachel Carson is perhaps one of the most influential figures in modern-day environmentalism. Silent Spring, her treatise of the harmful results of the use of synthetic pesticides, spurred a revolution in American policy on their use and led to a nationwide ban of DDTs and ultimately to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson first became aware on the negative impact humans could have on plant and animal life through her work as a marine biologist. Her books on the sea, The Sea Around Us (1951) and The Edge of the Sea (1955) we internationally successful, raising awareness about the environmental challenges which threated marine habitats. By the time she came to write Silent Spring, most of the facts about the impact of chemical pesticides we well-known amongst scientific communities, but Carson’s project was to bring these facts to the attention of the general public. The book didn’t only set out the case against the use of certain chemicals, however, but questioned the fundamental human assumption of mastery over nature, sparking a wave of grassroots environmentalism.

Rachel Carson conducts Marine Biology Research with Bob Hines — in the Atlantic (1952). By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This copy bears a particularly interesting association, being inscribed to Dr. Joc Pederson Authentic Jersey A D Pickett, a pioneer of alternatives to chemical pesticides who is mentioned in the acknowledgements of the book.

Gary Snyder.Photo by Festival of Faiths.

Gary Snyder, Regarding Wave. 1970 Snyder’s career has been long and varied; he was connected with the Beat poets, the San Francisco Renaissance, and was influenced by his practice of Zen Buddhism and study of Native American tribes. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Snyder was horrified by the mass deforestation he witnessed. Believing that language and culture shape the way humans relate to the natural world, he has written extensively on the environment and has been called the ‘poet laureate of Deep Ecology’. Adidas NMD Goedkoop Deep Ecology differentiates itself from what it identifies as ‘shallow ecology’ – viewing nature in the context of its utility to human life – by investing the natural world with intrinsic value. In his poetry, Snyder has explored the natural world extensively, experimenting with new ways of employing language in order to place nature, not man, at the centre of his work. Maglia Michael Jordan The critic Richard Wallace wrote that Snyder’s poems gave voice “to the ferocious energy of nonhuman beings”. Snyder’s 1990 collection of essays The Practice of the Wild is considered one of the most influential environmental works of the last 50 years. Of himself, Snyder wrote: As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth. They go back to the late Paleolithic: the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth; the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times. Regarding Wave, Snyder’s 1970 poetry collection, was heralded as a new achievement in his project to explore the interconnectedness of all things, both human and non-human. It brings together religion, ecological thought and Snyder’s personal relationships, putting the “precarious balance among forces and species” at the thematic centre of the collection.

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