Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry

August 17, 2010

Last week’s discovery was a signed limited edition hardback copy of Niffenegger’s most recent novel Her Fearful Symmetry. Only 750 of these books were printed, and they come in a red slipcase, which was unfortunately missing from this edition.  Nevertheless, as it usually retails at £35 online, it was a very welcome addition to the bookshelves at only £1.75.


Women and the Great War

August 16, 2010

Following last week’s description of Persephone’s Good Evening, Mrs. Craven, this is another book featuring an image from the Imperial War Museum, published this time by Virago.  Both depict women’s different experiences of war, ranging from the difficulty of shopping with ration coupons to being a wren.

“Women of all ages, classes and creeds describe their lives as wartime surgeons, nurses, foresters, censors, bus conductors, police constables, train drivers, bank clerks and munition workers.  They inaugurated concerts for British troops, or served with the armed forces; coped with air raids and food shortages; drove temperamental vehicles.  Some of the contributors are familiar – Vera Brittain, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the Pankhurst family – but many have been forgotten or are unknown.  Together they make this anthology an indispensable, often very moving, guide to the Women’s War.”

Virginia Woolf’s The London Scene

August 13, 2010

Thanks to Fen Frances at for drawing my attention to this lovely copy of Woolf’s The London Scene: Six Essays on London Life.  Stylistically, the painting on the cover is remarkably similar to that of Good Evening, Mrs. Craven, and is very reminiscent of a Stanley Spencer.  I don’t know who the cover painting is by, so if anyone else does please let me know.

Penguin 60s

August 12, 2010

Penguin 60s were published on the occasion of Penguin’s 60th Anniversary.  They contain short stories and short extracts from longer well-known books in the Penguin range – and cost just 60p each.

Mollie Panter-Downes

August 11, 2010

Today’s trip to the charity shop yielded a perfect copy of Good Evening Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes.  Along with Winifred Watson’s Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Dorothy Whipple’s Someone at a Distance, Good Evening Mrs. Craven is a Persephone Classic.  These books – the most popular of the Persephone titles – are published with a painting on the front as opposed to the usual distinctive Persephone Books grey.

The cover painting is The Queue at the Fish Shop (1944) by Even Dunbar, courtesy of The Imperial War Museum, and the fabric design on the inside cover is ‘Coupons’, 1941-2.

I am particularly fond of the ‘Coupons’ design, though I prefer the colour version to the black and white of the novel’s end papers – it is comprises both the header for this blog and the background to my twitter page @Lucy_G84

New York Public Library, NYC July 2010

July 20, 2010

“The only true equalisers in the world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library; the only wealth which will not decay is knowledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom.” – J.A. Langford

“A good booke is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life” – John Milton

Vanessa Bell

July 20, 2010

I have a picture of this original cover design for Mrs Dalloway by Vanessa Bell on the living room wall.  Of all the images, this is my favourite.


May 28, 2010

“I still go for long walks around London, and of course continue to discover parts of it I haven’t known before.  Walking home from the West End along the Strand and Fleet Street, for example, I slip in and out of the yards and passages lacing together the riverside and the Law Courts […] and I think of Virginia Woolf walking there and thinking of Defoe and Dr Johnson doing exactly the same thing […]  Mrs Gaskell thought nothing of walking up to Highgate and back in a single afternoon.  I like wandering aimlessly, with no fixed goal, unsure exactly where I will end up, letting my feet choose their own route, as the whim takes them.”

– Michele Roberts, Playing Sardines, pp. 65-66

Share your covers

May 20, 2010

If anyone has an edition of Mrs Dalloway that hasn’t been featured so far – there are three more to come – I would love to see a picture.  Send any pictures, details or suggestions to Lucy at and I’ll feature them in a post.

The Pursuit of Reading

May 20, 2010

“In The Common Reader, VW (who borrowed her title from a phrase in Samuel Johnson’s Life of Gray) wrote ‘all those rooms, too humble to be called libraries, yet full of books, where the pursuit of reading is carried on by private people.’  The common reader, she said, ‘differs from the critic and the scholar.  He is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously.  He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others.  Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole’.”

– excerpt from Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman