Moulders Lane

Category: Reading

Book Review: The Observer’s Book of British Geology by I. O. Evans (1949)

This is one of the book reviews I mentioned in an earlier post, each started and put aside for another attempt as I struggled to get to grips with the format. As I’m picking up several, long hanging, threads now, in various corners of my life, I’ve decided to dust these off and tidy them away too.

IMG_0003After getting completely bogged down with my first attempt at book reviewing, I decided that what I needed was something Much Smaller; and looking through my bookshelves in search of inspiration I lighted upon The Observer’s Book of Geology. This may not seem like an obvious choice but: it was written in 1949; I like bricks and it’s quite literally about the building blocks of the English landscape; and at six by three and a half inches, it’s certainly small.

So there we go.

For those who aren’t familiar with this peculiarly English (British?) phenomenon The Observer’s books are a series of pocket sized reference books, mostly published after the Second World War, by Warne and Co., best known, perhaps, for bringing us the Beatrix Potter series. The Observer books are in a similar vein: satisfyingly sized, with delightful watercolours and line illustrations and, rather like the Ladybird Books of my youth, now collector’s items.

From Birds in 1937 to Opera in 1982 the series eventually consisted of some 97 titles, having expanded from its natural history origins into spotters’ guides, and the Arts and Crafts. The idea behind the books Read the rest of this entry »

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How Writers Get Published: The Lure of the Pen – Flora Klickmann (1917-18)

I’ve been looking through another volume of The Girl’s Own Annual and found a series of articles by the Editor, Flora Klickmann, entitled The Lure of the Pen or, how to get rid of all your Romantic claptrap about Being An Artist and write something that will actually Get Published. One of the things I really like about Klickmann’s writing is that so many of the points she makes are just as valid today; and the ideas and suggestions in this set of articles have been incredibly useful in boosting my own glacially paced efforts.

It’s statistically impossible that I’m the only person with my particular set of problems as a writer, so the idea that others out there will also find the articles helpful is probably a good one. With this in mind, I’m going to do a review of each article here with my thoughts on what I found particularly useful. (If you want to read the articles in full, they’re in book form at Project Gutenberg; the American edition from 1920.) And then maybe we’ll all start writing, rather than trying to write!

Klickmann’s first article is concerned with the problem of the would-be writer from the publisher’s perspective i.e. – where you are all going wrong. This was incredibly helpful and a good eye-opener, with Klickmann pulling no punches:

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A Partial Book Review: Middlebrow Wodehouse: P. G. Wodehouse’s Work in Context ed. Professor Ann Rea (2016)

Rather like looking for a word in Chambers, running a Google search means you never know what odd thing you’re going to discover. The latest piece of flotsam to strike my bemused gaze is a new book on Wodehouse: Middlebrow Wodehouse: P. G. Wodehouse’s Work in Context published in January of this year and written by a gaggle of American and British academics. Having read through some of the sections previewed online, I’m rather intrigued to know if anyone’s read it and, if so, what they think?

Although claiming to be examining Wodehouse ‘in context’ it seemed to me that the writers knew pretty little about that context: Read the rest of this entry »

Looking after One’s Wardrobe in January (1916) – Norma May Hanshew

This is a scan of a fascinating article in the January issue of the Girl’s Own Paper and Women’s Magazine for 1916 that describes how the woman of moderate means met the fashion demands of the time.

A synopsis of the full issue with scans of some of the other articles can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

The Girl’s Own Paper – Jan 1916 (part three)

Jan GOP

Part Two

All scanned material copyright The Lutterworth Press.

The household section at the back of each issue of The Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine, to me one of the most fascinating parts, begins in January 1916 with an article entitled Dishes for the January Parties – How to obtain good Effects from Simple Means by Kate Radnor. This describes recipes suitable for ‘a small friendly evening gathering or young people’s party supper’ that are ‘more effective than heavy joints of meat or stiff uncut poultry’. There’s some interesting social points intermingled with the recipes: supper is always served cold, which means no vegetables (?) but if Christmas pudding is served ‘(and it is quite correct to do so)’ – an amusing example of etiquette as social division rather than etiquette as courteous good manners – this must be hot. Cream is thinner in winter, cooking is done on fires and involves extremely long cooking times, and everything has to be left until the next day to set. Particular dishes, or even the whole supper, are often ordered in from a confectioners to save trouble. The point of the article is that these often don’t taste any better than home produced but are ‘superior in style and effect’, something which can easily be imitated.

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The Editor’s Page – The Girl’s Own Paper (January 1916)

This is a scan of The Editor’s Page in the Girl’s Own Paper and Women’s Magazine of the early twentieth century, and part of my project looking at women’s experiences of the First World War, during this centenary year, through the eyes of the Girl’s Own Paper and Women’s Magazine for 1916.

Flora Klickmann’s points, in this page from the January issue, are just as valid a hundred years later: that we, ourselves, are the British Nation, that it is not a separate abstract thing for which we have no responsibility; that increased general prosperity and leisure is proving our undoing and that we are forgetting higher ideals and duties; and that there is an increasing viewpoint that money forgives all sins; in many respects the article could easily have been written for our own times.

A rather fascinating sidelight is thrown on the perceived division of responsibility in the period: it is women who ‘make or mar the social fabric’ while men are responsible for the virtue of business and political systems.

A coda calling for knitters to provide much needed hospital wash cloths highlights the unprecedented nature of a war of this scale in the dependence on amateur assistance by the authorities.

A synopsis of the full issue with scans of some of the other articles can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

Mobilising Women Workers – How the War is Demanding the Services of all and how Each One can Assist (Jan 1916)

As part of my project looking at women’s experiences of the First World War, during this centenary year, through the eyes of the Girl’s Own Paper and Women’s Magazine for 1916 – this is a scan of an interesting article in the January issue that describes the growing realisation of the role that women will have to play as the Great War progresses.

A synopsis of the full issue with scans of some of the other articles can be found here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sketching in Hertfordshire (Jan 1916) – Maude Angell

This is a scan of an interesting article in the January issue of the Girl’s Own Paper and Women’s Magazine for 1916, describing a sketching holiday in Wheathampstead, then a rural district of Hertfordshire despite being just 25 miles from London.

A synopsis of the full issue with scans of some of the other articles can be found here

More illustrations of Wheathampstead houses can be found in the article on women war workers.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Girl’s Own Paper – Jan 1916 (part two)

Jan GOPPart One

The middle section of the January issue has just one short story with the rest articles on hobbies, topics of interest for the 1916 woman and an exhortation for female assistance with the War.

Sketching in Hertfordshire – The Little Bits by the Way written and illustrated by Maude Angell is an account of a sketching holiday, with tips on landscape work, by the G.O.P’s writer on all things Art. What’s particularly interesting is that the olde-worlde village of Wheathampstead she describes is only 25 miles from King’s Cross, which gives you some idea of how surprisingly little London spread in 1916. As I very much doubt the buildings she drew still exist, the full article may be of interest to local historians.

Mobilising Women Workers – How the War is Demanding the Services of all and how Each One can Assist is another fascinating article that pinpoints developments in the War and its effect on ordinary people. The Government is belatedly waking up to the fact that the male workers in commerce and industry, needed in the army, are going to have to be somehow replaced if the economy is to be kept going and that women could be useful here. (But don’t get any ideas, it’s just for the duration.)

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The Barrier to Intimacy by Alice Miller (1915)

This is a fun and surprisingly modern short story that I found when looking up the background for the serial in the January issue of the Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine for 1916.  There’s a distinctly Wodehousian tone in the dilemma of the two characters – in the light of which the placement of the particular prayers at the footer seems a little misjudged.

Read the rest of this entry »