How to dance the Hokey Cokey

60670Found- some sheet music for the song The Cokey Cokey which later became the song (and dance) the Hokey Cokey. This is what it is all about… There are many theories about its origins – dealt with at Wikipedia and in a Mental Floss piece on its ‘dubious origins.’ Possibly the name came from the magician’s ‘hocus pocus’. This version was written in 1942 by Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984). Jimmy Kennedy states that his version is based on ‘a traditional action song known long ago in the mining camps and saloons of the Canadian West. The word ‘Cokey’ means a dope fiend but what this has to do with the dance is not at all clear!’ As he says – it then came over in World War 2 with the Canadian troops. He explains on the back of the sheet music exactly how to do the dance:

This is one of the simplest dances ever. You hold your partner in the normal way and while the verse is being played you may fox-trot using any steps you like.   When the chorus starts, that is, on the words, ‘Left arm out’, you put your left arm in line with your shoulder, continuing on the words ‘Left arm in’ by bending the left arm in and touching your shoulder, then ‘Left arm out’ as before.  You hold your partner with the other arm. ‘Shake it all about’ explains itself —you simply shake your hand and arm with a circular motion. On the next line ‘You do the Cokey Cokey and turn around’ the appropriate action is to place the forefinger of the right hand pointing downward on top of your head and do a complete turnaround. ‘That’s what it’s all about’ ends the actions and you take hold of your partner in the normal way. Then the chorus starts over again with the right arm, then left foot and then the right foot etc., It should not be taken to fast..

This dance, since its introduction here by the Canadian forces, has caught on like wildfire and bids fair to out-rival some of the most sensational dance successes of the past.

Note: Alternatively the dance maybe performed by partners facing each other in line as in the Palais Glide and on the words ‘That’s what it’s all about’ both hands are spread out palm upwards. SEE?

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At the Bookshop 1822 and 2016

Retrieved from our old Bookride site – this not unamusing extract from an 1820s English/ French conversation manual.  It gives an interesting insight into a vanished world. It is followed by our modern version where the translation was slightly robotic, so apologies for that…

Note the concern with the appearance and quality of the books, the perennial problems with trying to get the binder to do what the bookseller and customer wants, and on time. The eagerness of the collector to be the first to be offered fresh stock from the shop has changed very little. Still with us are the problems of delay in postal sytems…  Also it is interesting that in the early nineteenth century women bookbuyers were thought likely to be attracted to ‘Large Paper Copies’ and vellum bound books. The customer’s knowledge of book lore and binding styles has changed somewhat.

1822    
Well ! you are a man of your word, as usual: and the books that you were to send me, when shall I have them?
Eh bien ! vous etes un homme de parole, comme a l’ordinaire: et ces livres que vous deviez m’emvoyer, quand viendront-ils?
You are under great obligations to your binder; he often furnishes you with an excuse.
Vous avez un relieur a qui vous avez de grardes obligations , car il vous sert souvent de manteau.
I protest that I sent them to him the same day you came to buy them.
Je vous proteste que je les ai fait porter chez lui le meme jour que vous etes venu les acheter.

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Wonder Wall—Second World War murals in restaurants and canteens

Murals Bawden 001It is a sad fact that most of the best mural paintings executed in canteens, cafes and restaurants in the UK no longer exist. Unlike those executed for some public buildings, those in private premises are subject to the taste of those who take over the property. By far the most notorious example was, of course, the murals executed around 1913 on the walls of Rudolf Stulik’s Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel in Percy Street, just off Tottenham Court Road, by Wyndham Lewis, which were later painted over.

The prevalence of the post-war obsession of interior decorators with the ‘ white wall ‘ was a possible explanation for the disappearance of most the Second World War murals that feature in an article by the architect Oliver Hill in the November 1943 issue of The Studio magazine. Working within the tradition of thirteen centuries of mural painting in English churches, and using the contemporary iconography of posters, notably those of McKnight Kauffer, many of the muralists commissioned during the Second World War were asked to address what was essentially a captive audience –diners at many British restaurants, staff dining rooms and government canteens. Muralists saw these projects as an opportunity to introduce otherwise unappreciative diners to good public art. To the architect Hill, the mural was not the equivalent of a large framed representational painting that focussed the attention of the viewer on itself, but was part of the building on which it was painted. As such, rather than realistic representation, a ‘good mural ‘ should, according to Hill, ‘ fire the imagination and, by its effect and phantasy, allow the mind of the observer to escape beyond the confines of the room, without, of course, forcibly obtruding itself upon him ‘. Continue reading

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Gerald Brenan – Diaries and Journals 1925-1932

gerald-brenanFound amongst the papers of the late distinguished bookseller and publisher Joan Stevens this cutting from a catalogue. It appears to be dated in 1976, bookseller not named but it does not sound like Joan. Gerald Brenan was still alive and his reputation well established, but it has subsequently grown, especially through his strong Spanish connections and the price looks very reasonable indeed. It was probably bought by, or sold on to, the University of Texas who seem to have most of his papers. They are unpublished but were used by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy in his 1992 biography The Interior Castle: a Life of Gerald Brenan. As a dedicated Powysite Joan Stevens would have been interested in Brenan’s connection to Gamel Woolsey who had a passionate and painful affair with Llewellyn Powys. Gathorne-Hardy notes that, with typical Bloomsbury disdain, both Carrington and Lytton Strachey regarded her as a ‘bore.’ The part of Brenan was played by Samuel West in the 1995 movie Carrington.

307. Gerald Brenan’s Diaries and Journals, 1925-1932

Typescript, with manuscript corrections and additions. Two volumes, 239pp, 4to.

A document of both literary merit and literary significance. The majority of Brenan’s diary is devoted to the record of his long affair with the painter Dora Carrington. Although chronicled elsewhere (David Garnett’s “Carrington, Letters and Extracts from her Diary” 1970), Brenan’s own version of the frustration and anguish culminating in the inevitable ending of their relationship makes a fascinating counterpoint to the version found in Carrington’s letters to him, as edited by their mutual friend Garnett. Continue reading

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‘Abide with me’ – an answered prayer

51vLEzW1JIL._SX362_BO1,204,203,200_Found – this newscutting from The Times (London 1926) about the origins of the much loved hymn ‘Abide with me’ by Henry Francis Lyte. The reference to Wembley Stadium is slightly  obscure as Wikipedia says the hymn was first sung there in 1927 at the cup final…

AN ANSWERED PRAYER.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.

Sir, – As one of the few living descendants of the author of the hymn “Abide with Me,” which nightly thrills the great audience in the Wembley Stadium, I have been greatly interested in the correspondence in ‘The Times’. It is only those who know the tragic circumstances under which this beautiful hymn was written who can explain the inner meaning of the words “Fast falls the eventide.”

My great-grandfather, the Rev. Henry Francis Lyte, the author of the hymn, was vicar of Lower Brixham, in those days a picturesque little fishing village on the shores of Torbay. He was the author of numerous poems and hymns, some of which are in “Hymns Ancient and Modern.” During the latter part of his life he devoted himself to the service of the humble fisher folk of Brixham, among whom were many of his best friends. His labours undermined his health, but he persisted in his noble work until his health broke down completely under the strain and his doctor told him he must go abroad at once. He was then dying of consumption. He preached his farewell sermon the following Sunday evening in Lower Brixham Church and, after the service, walked slowly home to his house at Berry Head. It happened that on that night  there was one of those glorious sunsets which are sometimes to be seen at Torbay. The sun was setting in a blaze of glory and the purple hills of distant Dartmoor stood out darkly against a flaming sky. In the foreground was Brixham harbour like a pool of molten gold. Several times on the way home  the poet stopped to rest and to gaze on this wonderful manifestation of nature. We can well imagine his feelings. He had just said “Goodbye” for the last time to his parishioners, and he knew that he had only a few weeks at most to live. The setting day reminded him insistently of his life, which was drawing swiftly to its close. Continue reading

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Desiderata—a weekly publication for libraries and booksellers

Desiderata 001How come nothing can be found online about the little weekly periodical entitled Desiderata, a copy of which was found in a box of books the other day? It resembles the Clique in some respects, but unlike the latter, whose main job was to put collectors and booksellers in touch with one another, it aimed instead to provide ‘ a direct link between library and bookseller ‘.

The copy we found is probably fairly typical. It is issue number 36 of volume 8 and is dated September 9th 1955. Its 12 pages comprise an editorial in the form of a salutary story about a bookseller’s ring; there follows a rather silly defence of the inept ‘poet‘, Alfred Austin, against the entirely justifiable description of him by Evelyn Waugh as a ‘obnoxious nonentity ‘. Five whole pages of Wanted adverts from the British Museum then follow, and the rest of the issue is taken up by what appear to more Wanted ads from various public libraries, some small ads from booksellers and a full page ad from the eminent Guildford booksellers Traylen. A miscellany of literary notes and announcements takes up the back page.

The British Museum books wanted advert is the most interesting feature of the magazine. Listed in this case from ‘Tovey’ to ‘Trial’, the items demonstrate how keen the Library was (and presumably still is) to hold all editions of a particularly title, however seemingly obscure. This is, after all, its raison d’etre. However, one example listed seems out of place. There was a call put out for the 1915 second edition and its 1930 reprint of Pitman’s Dictionary of Secretarial Law and practice edited by Philip Tovey. Why would a 1930 reprint differ in any meaningful way from the 1915 second edition? Insisting on reprints for the sake of completeness is per se rather ludicrous. Continue reading

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An album of Oscar Wilde letters

oscar_wildeFrom a 1946 catalogue of ‘scarce and interesting original autograph letters manuscripts historical documents’ from London dealer Winifred Myers.  She was a major player in the field of autographs into the 1960s. These were listed at £80. After 70 years it would be a safe bet to say they have gone up by over 2000 times …Fortunately they were bought by a collector who let them be published in Rupert Hart- Davis’s collection of Oscar’s letters that appeared in 1962. Are they still in the ‘choicely bound’ Riviere album?

WILDE (Oscar). 1856-1900. Author. 9 Autograph letters signed, with original envelopes, 38 pp., 4to. and 8vo., and one autograph post card signed O.W. (some letters are signed in full, some “Oscar” and some with initials), Paris, Dieppe, Naples, etc., 1897-99, to his publisher Leonard Smithers, chiefly regarding his “Ballad of Reading Gaol.” A very fine collection of letters of the utmost importance. The first letter written from Berneval only three months after his release from prison, expresses the hope that he will finish the Ballad within a few days, begs Smithers to get an answer from Beardsley about doing the frontispiece; a long letter from Naples deals fully with the title-page and his pseudonym C.3.3.; speaks affectionately of Robt. Ross; were all his friends like Ross he would not be “the pariah dog of the nineteenth century.” Refers to Lord Alfred Douglas who is staying with him, “He has also ruined my life, so I can’t help loving him,” his wife’s letter of reconciliation. “In questions of the emotions and their romantic quality, unpunctuality is fatal.” “I am going to try and find a place near Genoa!… The chastity of Switzerland has got on my nerves,” asking for money, “I have no money at all. I am in a dreadful state… I am nearly in the gutter,” mentioning “The Importance of Being Earnest,” etc. Probably the most important and moving collection of Wilde letters ever offered for sale, mounted with typescripts in an album, choicely bound, green morocco gilt, g.e. lettered in gold on spine, by Riviere.

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A train spotter writes…

Sherlock Holmes CushingWe all know about the nerds who post online corrections to errors or omissions in books, films, dramatisations and the like. Well back in 1987 , before the Internet made it all too easy, there were people like R. Lujer, who typed their complaints to—in this case—the publisher of Peter Haining’s The Television Sherlock Holmes. Haining, who was doubtless royally entertained by this particular letter, kept it in his Archive. Here it is in full.


Dear Mr Haining,

I received a copy of your book last Christmas and have thoroughly enjoyed dipping into it before embarking upon a more orthodox read, until I reached page 179 and “The Mystery of Watson’s Dog”. I remember the review by Nancy Banks Smith and thought at the time that she had resurrected a non-event. The real mystery is the TRAIN, not the dog.

Bulldogs experience, as a rule, shortish lives, the result of overweight front ends and convolutory respiratory passages. Trains, or more exactly steam locomotives, generally had working lives of 50 or more years. Even some of the G.W.R. “Bulldog” class of 1901, transformed into “Earls” in the 1930s, were still running in the 1960s. Surely Watson’s dog simply died an early, natural death; and he found it convenient or prudent (or both) not to secure a replacement.But what of the locomotive in “The Copper Beeches”? Continue reading

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Virginia Woolf – An Appreciation (1941)

4e2b6da99ff0d5c9f24dfefdfec9abfcFound- a press-cutting from The Observer – April 6th, 1941 a week after the suicide by drowning of Virginia Woolf. This ‘appreciation’ accompanied a memorial poem by Vita Sackville-West. It was by the now slightly forgotten critic Basil de Sélincourt.  Virginia Woolf notes in her diary how she was heartened  when he praised her novel The Waves (1937). It was said to be her favourite review. There is a good photo of Selincourt at the National Portrait Gallery by Lady Ottoline Morrell.

An Appreciation – Basil de Selincourt

The loss of Virginia Woolf is not only a grave blow to English letters, but will also be widely felt by many who had no personal acquaintance with her. It was not for nothing that she collected her brilliant, or radiant, studies in Criticism under the title “The Common Reader”. The originality of her mind and the acuteness and range of her perception never isolated her, never led her to forget that the foundation of the literary art is sympathy, that we write to be understood, to make our vision carry. True, the reading of her novels can be a strenuous exercise, but it is an exercise in intimacy. The greatest of them, “The Waves,” most of us must be content to wonder at; we can hardly hope to comprehend it. But however we may be baffled by work of hers, we have never been offended. Its elusiveness is the elusiveness of nature. Her waters are limpid as the sea’s on a solitary shore; her phrase has the decisiveness, the crisp outline of a shell. Her horizons only are unfathomable. She has preferred to keep here even for herself a quality of mystery, as if the greatest communication a writer has to make were the sense of an incommunicable infinite, of a truth always present wholly, and therefore never seizable in any part.  Continue reading

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Harry Grindell Matthews—inventor extraordinaire

Matthews operating the Death Ray

If ever a man was the epitome of the ‘mad inventor‘ it was Harry Grindell Matthews, though his many supporters would perhaps bridle at the word ‘ mad’. But if he wasn’t dotty, he was certainly controversial and decidedly eccentric. For it was the habit of this electrical engineer, born in Winterbourne, now a northern suburb of Bristol, in 1881, to claim a startlingly interesting innovation while refusing to cooperate with interested parties, including government agencies. In 1911 he claimed to have invented a radio-telephone, which if developed might have been a prototype of our modern mobile; he also boasted that he had created the world’s first talking movie in 1921, but this too was never financed. He is best known today ( if he is known at all) for inventing an invisible Death Ray which he claimed would stop electrical machinery at a distance, thus immobilising enemy threats, such as aircraft and bombs. However, when an eager government stipulated that to convince the scientists he would be required to stop a petrol-driven motorcycle engine remotely, Matthews refused the challenge. In this press photo dated 1930 from the London based Sports and General agency, which found its way into the marvellous El Mundo archive, Matthews is shown on the right, cigarette in hand, while a group of engineers eagerly examine what appears to be the motorcycle engine which he was asked to stop. In another photo we see Matthews operating the Death Ray itself. Needless to say, the inventor’s refusal to cooperate in a controlled experiment spelt the end of this promising piece of technology.

Grindell matthews inventor082

Undeterred, Matthews continued to offer new inventions. The most exciting was a Sky Projector, which he demonstrated with some success. Had this got off the ground we may have had laser-type shows in the 1930s. When at last he did manage to tempt serious investors to part with their money, he used much of it to build a state of the art laboratory and a private airfield overlooking the Swansea Valley at Clydach. His financial state received another boost in 1938 when he married an opera singer called Ganna Walska whose five former husbands had left her with a fortune of around $125m. Unfortunately, he did not live long to enjoy his good fortune. Matthews died in Swansea in 1941 at just 60.

Gloucestershire has produced at least another brilliant electrical engineer. Joe Meek, the equally eccentric electronic music pioneer who produced the cult favourite ‘Telstar’ in 1962, worked on radios as a teenage prodigy. His shed can still be seen at the rear of his father’s old shop (blue plaque) off the Market Place in Newent. [R.M.Healey]

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The creator of Perry Mason with two of his team of secretaries

Erle Stanley Gardner 001When Erle Stanley Gardner( 1889 – 1970), the famous American crime novelist, began contributing stories to pulp magazines in the twenties, he used his own two fingers to type. However, realising that self-imposed targets of 1,200, 000 words a year were unlikely to be achieved in this primitive way, he took on what eventually became a ‘ team ‘ of secretary/typists. In this press photo of 1943 from the El Mundo archive we see two of them, Jean Bethel and Henriette Trilling, on either side of the ( ) year old novelist. The two women seem to be performing different tasks. Bethel is possibly taking notes on plots and characters for the novel that her partner is typing out from Gardner’s dictation, for future novels or for the travel books that the prolific writer also published. Gardner’s secretaries also acted as temporary corpses—assuming positions on the floor for added verisimilitude.

Over the years Gardner must have become very attached to Jean Bethel in particular. In 1968, following the death of his first wife, he took his ‘ faithful secretary’, then aged 66, as his second. At his death in 1970, aged 80, Jean became his literary executor and twenty years later, at 88, she was still administering his estate, which included a huge archive. [R.R.]

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The Herlock Sholmes Parodies, 1915 – 1940

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The contribution of W.O.G. Lofts ( 1923 – 1997) to the history of boys’ fiction in the British periodical press is immense. ‘Bill’ Lofts, a mechanical engineer by training, but a fact-collector by inclination (why did he never enter BBC’s Mastermind ?), was also interested in detective stories. Sexton Blake and Sherlock Holmes were two creations on which his skills as an astonishingly assiduous researcher were exercised to great effect. Years spent among the riches of the British Museum Periodical Library at Colindale on projects which probably no-one else had either the energy or commitment to pursue produced what turned out to be invaluable guides to the more obscure purlieus of popular literature. One such study was The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes: a History and Bibliography, a pamphlet co-written in 1976 with the owner of the Dispatch Box Press, Jon Lellenberg, an expert in the history of Sherlock Holmes in parody and pastiche.

According to Lofts and Lellenberg, the story of the Herlock Sholmes parodies was also the story of their creator, Charles Hamilton (above)  the most prolific writer in the English language, who as the mainstay of Amalgamated Press, is estimated to have written around 72 million words in his whole career , the equivalent of a thousand full-length novels. Using the pen name ‘Peter Todd’, which was the name of a pupil at Greyfriars School, which Hamilton had dreamed up for The Magnet, Hamilton made Todd a contributor of Sherlock Holmes parodies to The Greyfriars Herald, the school’s own newspaper, which Amalgamated Press brought out as a separate publication.

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In Memoriam Virginia Woolf (1941)

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Found - a press-cutting of an 'In Memoriam' poem written by Vita Sackville-West and published in The Observer on 6 April 1941 a week after her friend (and lover) Virginia Woolf had drowned herself in the River Ouse. It is odd that this version of the poem is not online (except possibly at a cash-for-knowledge site which reprints a version from the Winnipeg Tribune from May 17 1941 which may or may not be the same.) There is some suggestion that the free version available online was found at Sissinghurst in Vita's tower/study. From that version, presumably a later revision of the Observer poem (or just possibly an early draft) I have printed the changed words in square brackets. The word 'smell' in the tower version is surely wrong...'Mrs Brown' must be taken as representing 'unknown people.' The  lines:

How small, how petty seemed the little men

Measured against her scornful quality.

the same in both versions, have been praised as being particularly acute.

IN MEMORIAM VIRGINIA WOOLF

Many words crowd, and all and each unmeaning.

The simplest words in sorrow are the best.

So let us say, she loved the water-meadows,

The Downs; her books; her friends; her memories;

[her friends; her books;her memories]

The room which was her own.

London by twilight; shops and unknown people;

[shops and Mrs Brown] 

Donne's church; the Strand; the buses, and the large

Swell of humanity that passed her by.

[Smell of humanity]

I remember she told me once that she, a child,

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Books we must not read. Part Two

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Recently, following the lead of an article by William Mason-Owen published in a 1951 issue of The Colophon magazine, Jot 101 looked at some of the manuscripts and typescripts in the British Museum Library that were then withheld from publication due to the sensitivity of their contents. In part two we examine the banned printed books mentioned in the article.

First on the Colophon list is Cantab, by the otherwise respected Irish writer Shane Leslie, which appeared in 1926. This was ‘withdrawn under threat of legal proceedings for obscenity’. Your Jotter hasn’t examined the novel, which recounts the adventures and misadventures of a Cambridge undergraduate, but those in the know have maintained that any indelicacies it contains are inoffensive and certainly do not justify the ban.

D.H.Lawrence’s The Rainbow and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were also regarded as dangerous to public morality. Around half the first edition of the former was burned in 1915, hence its comparative rarity. Moreover, if you can find a copy in the original rather sensationalist dust wrapper you will get a few thousand pounds for it.

Ulysses (1922) was another on the list. The Little Review, in which excerpts appeared, was prosecuted in the US and the whole book remained suppressed here until 1934.The Egoist, which published parts of it in the UK was also the subject of court action. The first edition of the book appeared in Paris in 1922, but copies of this and subsequent continental editions were subject to seizure by British customs until a ban was lifted on its publication in the thirties.

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How much do you know?

Found- How much do you know? The book of a thousand questions and answers. It was edited by Harold F. B. Wheater and published in London (Oghams Press, circa 1937.) It is part of a set of 10 practical self improvement books bought in a secondhand bookshop (Chapel Books, Westleton). Condition was way above average but the books are of modest value.

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Some of the information is very dull but at JOT we occasionally do dullness. Some info is very dated and some possibly erroneous - if the Ying Lo Ta Tien was 23000 books that would put it on a par with a printed out version of Wikipedia 2016 (in English). Possibly volumes were thin with big lettering...the first entry sounds like the luckiest accident ever and the one on Schubert is a tragedy and a terrible waste- what was sold for 8 shillings would probably now make £8 million.

What is the largest gold nugget ever found?

The 'Welcome Stranger', discovered by accident in Victoria, Australia, in 1869, through a cart making a rut in the ground. It weighed 2520 ounces.

What was the world's largest encyclopaedia?

The Ying Lo Ta Tien, or Great Standard of Yung Lo, compiled in China by order of the emperor of that name during the fifteenth century A.D. It consisted of 22,937 books and contained nearly 367,000,000 written characters. Only three copies were made; two perished when the Ming dynasty fell in 1644; the third (with the exception of a few volumes) was destroyed in the siege of the Legations at Peking (Peiping) by the Boxers in 1900.

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An amazing Art Deco garage photograph

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From the ever-giving El Mundo archive is this quite astonishing Fox Photos pic of a multi-storey garage housing what appear to be bran new, high-class, automobiles. Along with the press agency stamp and the date 6 Feb 1930 is a description in Spanish of the scene. Here it is in full:

Un “garage” moderno, ofrece a los ojos un aspecto fantastico y desconcertante .El automovil ha reemplazado definitivamente al caballo como elemento de transporte y las grandes ciudades se preparan par albergar la avalanche de coches que diariamente sugen de las fabricas e inundan las callas. Este “garage” , que pareciera el producto de una fantasia, ha sido construido en Paris.**

I have yet to see a photo that better expresses the visual impact of the Art Deco era. [R.M.Healey]

**A modern "garage " offers a fantastic and baffling appeal to the eyes. The car has definitely replaced the horse as a transport medium and big cities are preparing to host the avalanche of cars daily coming out of factories and flooding the streets. This " garage " which seems the product of a fantasy , has been built in Paris .

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Author’s rejection list

wilson-1-2This was sent by Edmund Wilson (or his secretary) to people who wrote to him. It is a measure of his fame at the time (1950s?) He is now remembered more for his association with other writers, especially Vladimir Nabokov and Scott Fitzgerald. G.B. Shaw used to send out something similar and also Evelyn Waugh. Apparently people would write to Wilson just to get a copy of the slip. The note on it reads: “I don’t [do] live readings either unless I’m offered a very large fee. EW”. These type of generic rejection/ fob-off lists have now graduated to email…any examples welcome.

Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him to:
Read manuscripts,
Write articles or books to order,
Write forwards or introductions,
Make statements for publicity purposes,
Do any kind of editorial work,
Judge literary contests, give interviews,
Take part in writers’ conferences,
Answer questionnaires,
Contribute to or take part in symposiums, or “panels” of any kind,
Contribute manuscripts for sales,
Donate copies of his books to libraries,
Autograph works for strangers,
Allow his name to be used on letterheads,
Supply personal information about himself,
Or supply opinions on literary or other subjects.

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Ian Fletcher

Victor Plarr cover

Found in the Peter Haining archive, an Independent obituary by Peter Mendez of the fin de siecle scholar Ian Fletcher (1920 – 88). As the obituarist remarks, Fletcher’s vertiginous rise in 1955 from humble book-stamper in Catford Public Library to University teacher was extraordinary and may be unique in the history of modern British academic life. Today, when the possession of a Ph D is obligatory for entry into academia, and when many with this qualification are either unemployed or in low-grade jobs, the idea that someone with no degree at all could be elevated to a lectureship in English Literature would be laughed out of court.

But this was Fletcher’s position in 1955. Not only did he lack a higher degree, but he had never attended a University. However, in compensation he became a prolific contributor to such neo-Romantic post-war magazines as Tambimuttu’s Poetry London, Peter Russell’s Nine and Wrey Gardiner’s Poetry Quarterly. In 1948 Tambimuttu published a volume of his poems entitled, Orisons. He also brought out an edition of Lionel Johnson’s Collected Poems in 1953. Fletcher’s passion for the aesthetic movement and the literature of the eighteen nineties had begun early. His book-hunting excursions in that golden age of the forties and early fifties, when rare titles could be had for under ten shillings, led him to assemble a large collection which became a valuable resource. At the same time his growing reputation as a poet and scholar attracted the attention of Professor D. J. Gordon of Reading University, who saw that the young librarian might be a valuable addition to his staff. And it soon became apparent that Gordon’s trust in him was well placed.

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Firework Poems from Turkey

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Found- a copy of a rare book: Poems from Turkey (Taylor and Co., London, 1872). The author is anonymous but is known to be William Platt Ball (born 1844). Loosely inserted is a note giving info about him (see below*.) Of interest is the fact that he was in Turkey advising the Sultan about fireworks and while there seems to have put on a few shows. The frontispiece illustration shows a display over water with the fireworks being launched from a raft or jetty. There are poems about fireworks in the book one of which  ('Pyro's Pilgrimage') is quoted after his preface:

These poems (except a few pages on Turkish subjects added since my return) were written during a stay of fourteen months in Constantinople. During this period I superintended (under His Excellency Halil Pasha)  the Sultan's firework displays, organised a firework factory, and taught the complete art and mystery of firework making to a set of forty Turk soldiers, and English (in the mornings) to a class of four Efendis.

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Camp I.Q. Check List

IMG_1445.JPGFound in The Camp Followers’ Guide! (Niles Chignon. New York: Avon Books, 1965) this groovy quiz to ascertain how camp you are – aimed at men and women. Some tastes have changed, some clubs have vanished…a ‘Yes’ to over half means you are fairly serious about being camp.

Camp I.Q. Check List

Are you fanatical about egg creams?

Do you collect Wold War II ration books, old buttons, music boxes, stereoscopes and Ball jars?

Do you use banana soap?

Do you prefer Mexican paper flowers to real ones?

Do you have a Thirties Modern Vanity designed by Carl Hammerstrom in redwood burl with rounded corners and a big oval mirror?

Do you have a Bevelacqua chair with chrome flat bar steel arms?

Have you see Gunga Din five times? Goldiggers of 1933, ten? The Devil is a Woman, fifteen? The Creation of the Humanoids, twenty?

Do you have toys in your bathtub?

Do you play with a jump rope, a Whee-lo toy, or a giant Japanese Yo-yo?

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