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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
Published since 07 Mar 2016
Arthur Conan Doyle was hardly a meek man, nor one prone to seeking diplomatic solutions when dramatic alternatives were available. When he attempted to enlist in the military forces he wrote that “I am fifty-five but I am very strong and hardy, and can make my voice audible at great distances, which is useful at drill.” This audible voice proved to be very significant for two individuals in particular; George Edalji and Oscar Slater. My interest in these two men was sparked by our recent celebration of “Arthur Conan Doyle Week” at the end of May in honour of his birthday. Fortunately or otherwise, the Olympia bookfair has prevented me from typing up some of the more fascinating aspects of Doyle’s life that I discovered during that week.
Published since 21 Jan 2016
Working with rare and valuable books has a tendency to make the extraordinary seem rather ordinary. You start to wonder how certain agglomerations of leather, cloth, paper and ink can be worth so much. These doubts are cast aside, however, when confronted with something which makes a personal connection with you. The truth is that books, letters and diaries provide the most direct links between individuals from the past and those living in the present. Although it is the messages they transmit which are invaluable, surely paper and ink are no less valuable as tangible markers of history than art or architecture?
Published since 26 Nov 2015
Vita Sackville-West may never have quite made it into the premier league of English writers, but her love affair with Virginia Woolf did lead to the composition of the Bloomsbury novelist’s most accessible and influential novel, Orlando. Woolf was enchanted not only by Vita’s vital charisma, but also by the sprawling Elizabethan palace which remained an intrinsic part of her, even when she no longer lived there. Over the course of the novel the house and the character Orlando evolve together, at times parting, but ultimately meeting again just as intimately as they had at the very beginning...
Published since 15 Oct 2015
How better to celebrate sports than by going over the close link historically between writers and bicycles. Leo Tolstoy was an early adopter, procuring a English Starley safety bicycle, which he learnt how to ride in his mid-sixties, undoubtedly to the surprise of the peasant workforce on his family estate at Yasnaya Polyana. Back in England H.G. Wells was a keen cyclist with the quote “When I see an adult on a bicycle I do not despair for the future of the human race” often attributed to him. He regularly managed to weave bicycles into his writings, perhaps most memorably in ‘The War in the Air’ with the novel’s hero Bert Smallways, who with his business partner Grubb, rented bicycles to the intrepid or the foolhardy as the following excerpt shows.
Published since 07 Sep 2015
In wider society, many today consider the Classics irrelevant, and very few children encounter them even in translations now, let alone in the original languages. This then is a far cry from the relentless Classical education Graves himself received, and it is in part at least his own doing. By knocking them off their pedestal, along with the moral authority of Christianity, Graves and his contemporaries simultaneously ensured a future interest in the Classics, and killed off their serious study, except from a historical perspective. In my opinion, if any trace of Greek and Roman literature survives 1000 years from now, it won’t be Tacitus’ Annals being read, but Robert Graves’ novels.
[+] More Collecting History - Two Hundred Years On, Napoleon Is Still Much More Interesting than Arthur Wellesley
Published since 23 Jul 2015
Despite astonishing and terrifying the world with his lightning manoeuvres and remorseless expenditure of human lives, Napoleon and Republican France were ultimately crushed. Exhausted by constant total warfare rather than strategically defeated on the battlefield, Napoleon left France economically ravished and decisively toppled from its position as the most powerful European nation. Thus this final battle, Waterloo, is rightly regarded as one of the most pivotal moments in Modern British history, ushering in a century of rapid economic and colonial expansion, and global naval domination. It is perhaps no coincidence then that our recent post-colonial age has seen these wars and their principle players romanticised by novelists such as Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O’Brian, C. S. Forester, and Douglas Reeman. These patriotic pseudo-historical accounts, often based on extensive research, present the British armed forces at their best – fighting as heroic under-dogs for the last time while saving the rest of Europe from French Republican autocracy. Cornwell’s creation, the Richard Sharpe series, is perhaps the most interesting of these, since the eponymous protagonist manages to be present not only at most of the important battles of the Peninsula War in Portugal and Spain, but also at the Siege of Copenhagen, the naval battle of Trafalgar, and of course the coup de grace, Waterloo.
Published since 17 Mar 2014
Adrian Harrington Ltd is very pleased to announce that the company has bought the premises and business of Hall's Bookshop in Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Sabrina Izzard is retiring and has said how happy she is that the business is continuing and will be good for another 100 years! Hall's Bookshop, founded in 1898, has a long and illustrious history and has, from its beginning been at the heart of the town. Its basement and the contents of the basement have been the subject of rumour for decades. Dealers were not allowed down there! The legendary Harry Pratley, who was at Hall's from 1919 to 1967, was president of the ABA from 1959 to 1960. It seems somehow appropriate for another past president to be taking over.
Published since 30 Sep 2013
Criminal as it may seem, I have been back a couple of weeks now and I still haven’t shared the tale of my adventures at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. A fortnight standing in as a coconut shy for the more Luddite of the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association will do that. “But tell us your adventures!” I hear you clamouring, “Were there beautiful women, and strange narcotics, were there acts of great derring-do and sundry torrid and passionate encounters neath the sparkling dome of the big, big Colorado sky?” Why yes, dearly beloved, yes there were … all these things and more.
[+] More Nominated for the 16th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography – Jon Gilbert's Ian Fleming Bibliography
Published since 19 Sep 2013
When the 16th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography will be awarded during the 41st ILAB Congress in April 2014, the Prize Jury will have had to fulfill an almost impossible task. The jury of Felix de Marez Oyens, David Adams, Jean-Marc Chatelain, Arnoud Gerits, Poul Jan Poulsen, and Umberto Pregliasco will have to choose the best book about books from an impressive list of 70 bio-bibliographical works published between 2009 and 2012. Among them is: John Gilbert: Ian Fleming. The Bibliography.Download file: 1193_PR ILAB Breslauer Prize 2013 2.pdf
Published since 13 May 2013
Having thought about it though, it did occur to me that the real problem with that Treasure Detectives malarkey was not even the fact that they had no clue what they were on about … more the fact that to someone “normal” it would be really hard to tell. If I were wandering the earth all besotted with books and suddenly had a windfall from a mysterious Romanian Great Uncle I’d never previously heard of, and I wanted to start collecting books … how would I go about it? First … there are rules. They are for you, and like all of the best rules, they are rules that don’t just apply to book collecting.