Book Temptation in Blessington

This will be a brief post, its purpose to illustrate just how difficult my task of reading around the Landing Bookshelves is going to be. The difficulty, I am forced to add, is entirely of my own making as I find it almost impossible to pass the ‘Just Returned’ or ’New Titles’ shelves in any library that I happen to visit. In this case, my little difficulty was in discovering a new bookshop on a recent trip to Blessington. Not one, but two bookshops can Blessington boast, one being the lovely Blessington Bookstore and cafe and the other, a second hand and antiquarian emporium.

Four Books

Too tempting to resist!

We had been in the former, where we enjoyed a browse, a beverage and some yummy cake at the end of our day trip to the Blessington Lakes. We were waiting at the bus stop over the road, when I spied what I thought was a sign saying ‘Books’ over in the as yet unexplored shopping centre. At that distance, despite my long sightedness I could have been seeing ‘Boots’ but I wasn’t about to take any chances. As the bus timetable declared a wait of more than thirty minutes, there was certainly time to explore the potential bookshop. Off we trotted in eager anticipation.

I am here to inform you that it was indeed a bookshop (Broadford Books), one that we didn’t even get inside of before we had found three books (plus an old map of The Wicklow Way) to buy. Booksellers shamelessly put stock outside at bargain prices to tempt us from our good intentions. Here is the result of our brief shopping spree: Miss Mapp by EF Benson, Angel Pavement by JB Priestly and CS Forester’s The African Queen. I was particularly pleased to spot The African Queen having recently watched the film version for the first time in years. He Who Put The Shelves Up is reading it at the moment so I will have to wait awhile. The Bookworm has now been introduced to the delights of Miss Mapp’s social circle and is keen to read the rest of the Mapp and Lucia books.

So, we had a very successful day out, which is good, but I am a step backwards in my mission to conquer the TBR Pile! I did however resolutely ignore an Arthur Rackham illustrated book of fairy stories…maybe next time…

Have you spotted any bargains lately? Do tell!


Picture Credit: The Bookworm (with thanks)



An Interview with Karen Vaughan…

This post from Daniel Seery’s blog is an interview with one of my colleagues, graphic designer Karen Vaughan. When I discovered from reading this that we share a liking for Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham, of course I had to give her a mention! It’s also worth checking out more of Daniel Seeery’s blog if you have the time. His first novel A Model Partner (Liberties Press) is being launched next week in Dublin. And it does have a great cover…

Daniel Seery

In 1925, an artist by the name of Francis Cugat was commissioned to design the cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ despite the fact that the novel had yet to be completed.  When the author saw the cover, he was so enamoured with it that he told the publisher he had written it into the book. This is the power a cover illustration can have on a book.

Gatsby_1925_jacketRecently, I’ve been working with a fantastic cover artist by the name of Karen Vaughan.  Karen is an illustrator and designer working with Liberties Press. She has a particular love for pen and ink and examples of her work can be seen on her website –

She is an artist to watch out for in the future and luckily I managed to get an interview with her…and here it is…

Karen, when did you first realise you wanted to…

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More Fairies: Shakespeare

My choice of Shakespeare today is in honour of the Trinity Dublin Shakespeare Festival which is being held this week from 3-8 June. I have been to a couple of events so far and hope do more by the end of the week. My original plan for today was to select a sonnet, but I decided to pursue the theme of summer instead. Here, therefore is a short magical snatch from the action in

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Act II (Scene I)  – A wood near Athens     

Puck and the fairy by a tree

Puck and the fairy



Enter from opposite sides, a fairy and Puck

PuckHow now, spirit, whither wander you?  

FairyOver hill, over dale
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
 Swifter than the moony sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see,
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

I have had this illustrated edition for many years but sadly can’t remember where it came from, other than that I think it was probably from a book fair in the Birmingham area. That would put it around fifteen or more years ago, which is a scary thought.

The illustrations are all by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) and the text was written by calligrapher Graily Hewitt (1864-1952). The work was originally done in 1929 at the invitation of the Spencer Collection (New York Public Library)  This particular edition was published in 1977 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd and reproduced from the 1929 manuscript. I love Arthur Rackham’s work and maybe one day I might get to see his original drawings and watercolours. There is an Arthur Rackham Society if you want to discover more information about his work.

I hadn’t heard of Graily Hewitt before I owned this book but I have discovered that the Victoria and Albert Museum have holdings of his work. He was a very important figure in the world of calligraphy and typography and wrote The Pen and Type Design (1928) and Lettering (1930). The latter was last re-printed by Dover Publications in 1993 though it looks as if it is out of print now. This reminds me that Dover are a brilliant publisher for classic reprints and that perhaps I should do a post on their work sometime.

Apologies if the images don’t look as good as they might. I had problems scanning due to the size of the book.

Almost a week of poetry and poets so far….let me know your favourites so far!

Titania's fairies

Front of jacket