Thursday, February 27, 2014
Every year we have a special table where every book is marked $5. There is a particular reason why we do this. As some other booksellers do, we firmly believe that the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair ought to have really affordable books along with highly sought-after pricey ones. That way, all readers who come to the Book Fair can go home with something special.
To be sure, we'll have a special glass case with a collection of those really remarkable, very scarce items that make the Book Fair the perfect place for collectors. But we'll also have just plain readable books that have been enjoyed for years.
By now you know that this year's Book Fair theme is Children's Literature: Pages of Wonder. We're delighted, of course, because we have a whole section of children's literature in the store. What's special this year is that our $5 book table will all be children's books. That's right, an entire chunk of our booth will be devoted to old favorites from everybody's youth.
Among them, Beatrix Potter, the English author of Peter Rabbit fame. As you can see from the photo above, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (most likely the first book in this series) is missing but there are numerous other Beatrix Potter tales certain to delight readers.
Potter always illustrated her own books. She was heavily influenced by the work of Kate Greenaway, Randolph Caldecott, and Walter Crane. What many readers may not know is that Beatrix Potter had an abiding interest in natural science and she developed quite a skill at drawing or painting her specimens. This skill is reflected in her illustrations of children's books, which are remarkably anatomically correct.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
|Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.|
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
Sunday, February 16, 2014
|Henry Brooks Adams -- Harvard graduation photo. Adams lived to be 80 years old.|
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
It is the birthday of journalist and raconteur Frank Harris (1856), who served as editor of the Saturday Review, cultivated friendships with Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw (about whom he wrote biographies), and worked as a cowboy in the American west. He is probably best remembered, however, for his sexually explicit and highly exaggerated memoir My Life and Loves (1931). It was known for its racy drawings, nude photographs, and gossipy details about public figures such as Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Thomas Carlyle, George Meredith, Cecil Rhodes, and Wilde.
He was born in Ireland of Welsh parents, sent to boarding school in Wales, ran away from school at age 13 and went to America, where he supported himself with a series of odd jobs, including as a construction worker on the Brooklyn Bridge. He went to Chicago and worked in the meat packing industry, then went west and became a cowboy. He earned a law degree at the University of Kansas and settled down to practice law.
That didn't last long though, and he returned to England, then traveled throughout Europe. He worked as a foreign correspondent for American newspapers, then became editor of several London papers before settling in at the Saturday Review. Beginning in 1908, Harris started writing novels and other books. Among them were The Bomb (1908), The Man Shakespeare and His Tragic Life Story (1909), and The Yellow Ticket and Other Stories (1920).
In 1914, Harris came back to America. He became editor of Pearson's Magazine, which had a slightly socialist bent to it. Once, during World War I, an issue of the magazine was banned at the U.S. Post Office because of its political content. However, the magazine continued to survive during the war years, despite the dim view many took of the leftist press at the time. Harris became an American citizen in 1921.
In 1922, Harris went to Germany to arrange to privately publish his racy memoir. He published four volumes from 1922 to 1927. For 40 years, it was banned in Britain and the United States. However, in Paris, it once sold for a much as $100. In 1931, notorious Obelisk Press in Paris (the same one that later published risque volumes by Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin) produced a four-volume edition of Harris' memoir.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Friday, February 7, 2014
It is the birthday of jazz composer and performer Eubie Blake (1887), one of the finest popular songwriters of his era. Among his hit songs were Bandana Days, Charleston Rag, Love Will Find a Way, Memories of You, and I’m Just Wild About Harry. Along with Noble Sissie, he wrote music and lyrics for the first hit Broadway musical by and about African Americans, Shuffle Along (1921). Blake remained a popular performer throughout his life and continued to captivate audiences until just before his death at age 96. Scholars have determined that records indicating he died at 100 are incorrect. Here is a performance of Charleston Rag, a song he said he wrote in 1899 at age 12.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
It is the birthday of writer and arts patron Gertrude Stein (1874), who is most famous for nurturing painters such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, as well as writers Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Thornton Wilder in her Paris salon in the 1920s. Much of her writing reflected the abstract art she collected and was virtually unintelligible, even to well educated readers. Nevertheless, she achieved stylistic notoriety with such quotes as “A rose is a rose is a rose,” perhaps her version of the more recent “It is what it is.” She also wrote the oft quoted “There is no there there,” to describe her hometown of Oakland, California. Her one great commercial success was The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), written in the voice of her lifelong companion but really about herself and the artists and writers she knew. She also wrote the librettos for two Virgil Thomson operas, Four Saints in Three Acts (1934) and The Mother of Us All (1947).
Saturday, February 1, 2014
It is the birthday of acclaimed Hollywood director John Ford (1894), who is considered one of the best film directors of all time. He won six Academy Awards, four of them for best director. Those films included The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952). He also won for the documentary feature The Battle of Midway (1942) and for the documentary short December 7th (1943). His admirers include Ingmar Bergman, who called him the best director in the world, Frank Capra, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan, David Lean, Sergio, Leone, Jean Renoir, Martin Scorsese, Stephen Spielberg, François Truffaut, Orson Welles, and Wim Wenders. Here is a fascinating 1968 BBC interview with him.