Hobart is presenting us with another drizzly, cloudy day but the rain on the color bond roof sounded nice during the night. One of the things I have noticed during these days of self isolation is the amount of people I’ve never seen walking past our house. People of all ages with dogs, without dogs, waving at Ollie and I in the yard. Who ARE these people? Evidently neighbours within our community who work during the day and are now at home. The foot traffic is quite remarkable while there is a definite decrease in the car traffic. These times are presenting all kinds of changes now.
But…. on with the books.
*1. The first book I am going to share from my shelf is one I found in a sad little Op shop that I couldn’t leave behind. I have quite a collection of dog books published from the late 1800s to no later than 1955. I collect them not so much for the stories but for the illustrations. Cecil Aldin is my favourite but I have also loved and owned several Albert Payson Terhune (Lad series) whose books I grew up with. Real Tales of Real Dogs comes to mind and I still have my mother’s childhood copy.
The book is Australian and called The Day of the Dingo (1955 published by Thomas Nelson & Sons who published many children’s books) by John Kiddell. I can find little information about Mr Kiddell anywhere. I am hoping that some older Australian born readers might shed some light on him for me. He has several books for sale on Abe books and though he seemed to cater for a young readers market the illustrations by Neave Parker drew my attention to this one. I am assuming Neave Parker is British but can’t swear to it. He spent most of his life working at the Natural History Museum in London reconstructing dinosaurs. Most of his art work is in that field as well but he did draw illustrations of other animals for books. He lived from 1910 to 1951. Again there are art auctions online who represent his work but little biographical information about him. I will simply share the illustrations from this book and you can decide for yourself. I may spend more time doing online research to see if I can find out more about these two people.
**2. Next on the list is: Drawn From Memory by Ernest H. Shephard (Penguin books 1957, reprinted 1975). Ernest Howard Shepherd was born in 1879 in London. He was educated at St Paul’s School; and studied art at the Heatherleys and Royal Academy Schools. He had his first picture exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1901, and began drawing for Punch in 1907. During the war he served in the Royal Artillery and after the war he began illustrating books – especially children’s books. Among his more famous illustrations are those for Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1972.
The book represents his childhood memories during the 1880s. In words and drawings he uncannily recalls a horse-drawn London where a penny was wealth and the fire at Whiteley’s the event of the year. A kindlier, less austere view of Victorian England emerges from these recollections of the Jubilee, of bathing at Eastbourne and hop picking in Kent, of the Drury Lane Pantomime and aunts and illnesses, of hansom cabs and pea soup fogs. It was a world where the spirit of Charles Dickens walked. He died March, 1976 in London. (Penguin)
***3. After talking about a couple of books of interest to children I am going to walk down a different path here with one of my all time favourite books. I only need to say two words. George Orwell. No, not 1984 as that while his most famous book, is probably the least favourite book of his as I am not a big dystopian fan though I do appreciate the meaning behind it and how relevant his writing remains.
My favourite books of his are his memoir/auto-biographical books. Burmese Days, Homage to Catalonia, The Road to Wigan Pier and this one, my favourite, Down and Out in Paris and London. I’ve read Animal Farm a couple of times and seen the play years ago but it broke my heart and I can’t read it again.
Orwell was born as Eric Arthur Blair in June 1903 in Motihari, India. He died in January 1950 at the too young age of 46 in London of tuberculosis. He was such a prolific novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. I can’t help but think of how much more he would have blessed us with had he not died so young.