Shelf:Life

Shelf:Life - Links to what's new in the world of old, rare, and collectable books, insights into book collecting, the news stories that matter, and occasional comments by TheBookGuide.  Archived Stories.

May 2016

28.05.16.
Roald Dahl's letters from the frontline
Roald Dahl is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest ever children's writers. Yet it was only in his 40s that he attempted to write a book for children, and for many years he appeared to have no aspirations to become a writer at all ... more  Add a comment


27.05.16.
Rare £400 book left on Shrewsbury charity shop doorstep
Left on the doorstep of the Oxfam shop on Dogpole, the first edition copy of The Little Prince was spotted by eagle-eyed volunteer Ros Westwood who swooped on the book knowing it was something out of this world ... more  Add a comment

Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups coming this Christmas
Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy will be reimagined grown-ups in four new stories in which they confront challenges of living without booze for a month, finding themselves on a puzzling "strategy away day", attempt to find a good gluten-free cream tea, and, "most perilous of all", prepare for parenthood ... more  Add a comment

'It needs more public-spirited pigs'
The letter in which TS Eliot rejects George Orwell's allegory Animal Farm because "we have no conviction ... that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation" has been published online for the first time by the British Library, alongside a wealth of other material from 20th-century writers ... more  Add a comment

Medieval manuscript margins filled with murderous rabbits
Long before Sergio Aragonés filled the margins of MAD Magazine with tiny, weird cartoons, the margins of medieval manuscripts were a playground for bored monks with crude senses of humor ... more  Add a comment


26.05.16.
Shakespeare's first four folios sell at auction for almost £2.5m
Copies of William Shakespeare's first four books, dubbed the "Holy Grail of publishing", have sold for almost £2.5m at auction. Christie's said they were sold as separate lots on Wednesday but were all bought by an anonymous private American collector ... more  Add a comment


24.05.16.
Signed copy of Marx's Das Kapital to fetch up to £120,000
A first edition of Das Kapital, inscribed by Karl Marx to the man he once described as one of "my oldest friends and adherents", and after the friendship had soured as "a scoundrel pure and simple", is coming up for auction, with an estimated price tag of up to £120,000 ... more  Add a comment

Book yourself a profit by investing in rare literary treasures
The main reason for buying a book should be the pleasure it brings - even if you are considering a purchase as a potential investment. It can seem a daunting prospect to start collecting but thanks to the internet there is no need to feel overwhelmed as it enables you to explore the market in your own time looking for favourite reads - different genres, authors and editions - and find out the kind of prices people will pay ... more  Add a comment

17th-century adult colouring-in book ready for modern hues
Adults finding time for colouring-in books might seem a modern fad, part of the fashion for all things mindful. But the trend actually dates back more than 400 years, and one of the earliest books intended for amateur colouring - a series of maps adorned with delicately drawn images of nymphs, water sprites and fairies - is about to be republished, centuries after it was first printed ... more  Add a comment


20.05.16.
Neal Cassady letter going to auction
A 1950 Neal Cassady letter that inspired Jack Kerouac's spontaneous style in "On the Road" is heading to auction where it's expected to bring up to $600,000. Christie's is offering the 18 double-sided-page letter on June 16 ... more  Add a comment

Dickens of a deal: Author's home given £2.8m price tag
Dickens House at 15 Took's Court is believed to be where the writer created the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol -  reputedly based on a tight-fisted neighbour ... more  Add a comment


19.05.16.
1865 Alice could become the most expensive children's book
An incredibly rare copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland could become the world's most expensive children's book if it sells for the expected £2million at auction ... more  Add a comment

Stolen Christopher Columbus letter returned to Italy
The explorer's 1493 account of his discoveries was rushed to printers, and copies of the letter spread across Europe. Only about 80 copies of all editions survive. It was with acknowledgment of the rarity of the document that the United States on Wednesday returned an eight-page copy that was stolen from a library in Florence, Italy, and later donated to an unsuspecting U.S. Library of Congress ... more  Add a comment


18.05.16.
Dylan Thomas poetry manuscripts go on public show in Swansea
The legend of Dylan Thomas will grow with the unveiling of poetry manuscripts kept out of the public eye until now. Last Saturday's Dylan Day offered the first opportunity to view the previously unseen Dylan Thomas poetry manuscripts at the Swansea University library on the new Bay Campus ... more  Add a comment

Rare copy of Anthony Burgess novel for sale
A "very scarce" signed novel by A Clockwork Orange's author Anthony Burgess, which was pulped following libel action - from a school secretary who recognised herself in the book - is set to be sold at one of the world's largest gatherings of antiquarian booksellers later this month ... more  Add a comment


16.05.16.
Chinese calligraphy letter sets new auction record
The letter is the last surviving work of Chinese scholar Zeng Gong, who penned it around 936 years ago, popular news website ThePaper.cn reports. It was snapped up by film mogul Wang Zhongjun at the China Guardian auction house on Sunday evening ... more  Add a comment


13.05.16.
British Library delve into incredible punk archive
With a backdrop of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's son Joe Corré planning to burn his £5 million collection of original punk artefacts in protest at the corporatisation of the anarchic musical and social scene -- a circus whirring into overdrive on the 40th anniversary of its explosive emergence -- the British Library have delved into their impressive archive of the period to demonstrate the value of publicly-owned punk history  Add a comment

James Audubon and the natural history of a hoax
Brilliant work in the archives has unearthed evidence that the great ornithological artist also enjoyed some rather more fanciful work ... more  Add a comment

H. W. Perl (1897-1952)
The artist H. W. Perl is chiefly known to aficionados of British post-war pulp fiction.  He was one of the most prolific artists in that genre, working for almost all the leading publishers - and he was quite simply one of the best - one of only a handful of pulp artists remembered and collected in his own right ... more  Add a comment

Rugby rule book from 1851 sells for £13,000
It is 17 pages long, contains 33 rules and says it should be regarded "rather as a set of decisions on certain disputed points in football, than as containing all the laws of the game, which are too well known to render any explanation necessary to Rugbaeans" ... more  Add a comment

Printed book sales rise for first time in four years
Sales of printed books have grown for the first time in four years, lifted by the adult colouring book craze and 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, as ebooks suffered their first ever decline ... more  Add a comment

The 15th century apocalypse 'map of hell' revealed
Doomsday was at the forefront of many people's minds in the 15th-century and various texts from that period describe how doomsday could play out. But now, a manuscript has been uncovered that illustrates the end of days in a very different way - using maps. ... more  Add a comment

Perfume inspired by old books
Sweet Tea Apothecary has a new scent for those that love the smell of old books: Dead Writer's ... more  Add a comment

The books are looking good for Scholium
The antique and rare book trader reported healthy trading and strong cash reserves ... more  Add a comment


12.05.16.
Rare copy of Aristotle's De animalibus to be auctioned
The rediscovery of a 15th-century illuminated edition of Aristotle's De animalibus (On Animals) in Tennessee late last year was "pretty incredible", said Christina Geiger, director of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams auction house in New York. Not only is the book an "incunable" - printed before 1501, when the ink was still wet on moveable type - but this deluxe copy was printed on vellum, or animal skin. Only one other copy exists and it belongs to the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris ... more  Add a comment

Limited £120 edition of Mort sells out in 13 hours
The Folio Society Limited Edition of Mort has become the fastest selling title in Folio history - selling out in 13 hours. The edition of the Terry Practhett novel, which was limited to 500 copies, went on sale for £120 a copy at midday yesterday on May 10th ... more  Add a comment

Library at Glasgow School of Art to be restored to 1910 Mackintosh design
The £51m restoration of the Mackintosh Building in Glasgow is to return to the ideas of its world-famous architect.The design team behind the restoration of the Glasgow School of Arts (GSA) landmark building is to return its famed library - destroyed in the disastrous 2014 fire - to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's original design ... more  Add a comment


10.05.16.
Sniffin' Glue: A fanzine that epitomized punk
It's UK punk's 40th anniversary year - sort of - and among the work being celebrated is 'Sniffin' Glue', the photocopied publication that embodied the movement's high, heroic era. Founder and editor Mark Perry shares his memories ... more  Add a comment

Rare book lovers rejoice
Back in the 1980s and ,90s, one of Manhattan,s most sparkling personalities was Jane Kelly Stubbs, the drawlingly witty chatelaine of Stubbs Books & Prints, where out-of-print volumes by the likes of Cecil Beaton met outré art inside a two-story sliver of a 19th-century townhouse ... more  Add a comment

Into the dystopian world of Beatrix Potter
Written at the height of Britain's imperial project, those 23 little tales are really a primer for navigating the merciless currents of amoral capitalism ... more  Add a comment


9.05.16.
When authors' prejudices ruin their books
The unsavoury attitudes found in novels from writers such as GK Chesterton and Susan Coolidge have ruined some of the fiction I loved most as a child. But where do you draw the line when you return to tainted classics? ... more  Add a comment


7.05.16.
Book signed by Anne Frank sells for $62,500
A book of fairy tales that belonged to Anne Frank sold for $62,500 dollars at a New York auction on Thursday, Swann Auction Galleries said. The 1925 edition of "Grimm's Fairy Tales," including "Snow White" and "Hansel and Gretel," belonged to Frank and her sister Margot, whose names are written on the title page, the auction house said, adding that the book went for more than double its estimated price ... more  Add a comment

Rare World War One poster in Welsh for sale
Issued between 1914 and 1916, the text reads "Anibyniaeth Sydd Yn Galw Am Ei Dewraf Dyn", which translates as Independence Calls for the Bravest of Men. It depicts a silhouette of a British artillery team operating a howitzer while a spotter-plane flies overhead ... more  Add a comment

Russian culture ministry denies reports of book burning
The Russian ministry of culture has denied that a widely reported book burning ever happened, after the Russian Writers' Union (RWU) submitted a petition to the government voicing concerns about the destruction of book ... more  Add a comment

'I thought it was worth $20'
You never know what gem you'll uncover in a second-hand book shop, but finding a journal from the Napoleonic Wars is like striking pure gold ... more  Add a comment


5.05.16.
Penny dreadfuls: the Victorian equivalent of video games
In the 1880s and 1890s, penny dreadfuls were blamed for youth violence and suicide. Did they play a part in the grisly murder of a mother by her two sons? ... more  Add a comment

Confessions of a book vandal
I have a confession. It's of the serious and shocking variety - as all good confessions should be. I am a wanted man. Hunted by militant librarians across eleven counties. I am charged with the worst sort of library crime - defacing books. And I am utterly guilty. But sometimes, doing something wrong is the only right thing to do ... more  Add a comment

Following the Yellow Brick Road to obsession
Peter Hanff was 3 years old when he stumbled across the Land of Oz; his father had 10 Oz titles and began reading them to his son before bed. The boy quickly became entranced by L. Frank Baum's stories and the illustrations. It was the start of an obsession that would lead him to his current role as deputy director of UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library, and to a life of avid Oz book collecting, research, and celebration. If ever an Oz wiz there was, Hanff would be it ... more  Add a comment

A rare sketch by L.S. Lowry on a paper NAPKIN sells for £9,000.
The artist is famous for his paintings and sketches of life and landscapes in the industrial north. But the six inch-square doodle, dated November 6, 1961, captures men playing handball in Caerphilly, south Wales. Lowry is believed to have initially sketched out the scene in crayon as he watched from a nearby cafe in the village of Nelson ... more  Add a comment

Tolkien annotated map of Middle-earth acquired by Bodleian library
A map of Middle-earth, which to generations of fans remains the greatest fantasy world ever created, heavily annotated by JRR Tolkien, has been acquired by the Bodleian library in Oxford to add to the largest collection in the world of material relating to his work, including the manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy ... more  Add a comment


2.05.16.
Original Tintin comic book art sells for $1.2 mn in Paris auction
The orginal artwork for the last two pages of the Tintin " King Ottokar's Sceptre" sold for a total of 1.046 million euros ($1.2 million) at auction Saturday in Paris. "This is only the second time a Tintin plate has exceeded a million euros," Eric Leroy, comic book expert at French auction house Artcurial, told AFP ... more  Add a comment

This rare book unearthed in Nottingham could sell for £10,000
It is not every day I'm brought a masterpiece to appraise and I have come to dread being asked by hopeful owners "Are old books worth anything?" but the other day a local lady, in going through her late father's bookshelves, found something very special ... more  Add a comment

Measure for pleasure: sex, money and Shakespeare
Like sex, money is something that a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about (and wanting more of). Shakespeare was no exception ... more  Add a comment

Diary of a somebody
After biographer Alexander Masters was given a pile of discarded diaries, he began piecing together a life ... more  Add a comment