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.

February 2013

Bookbinding Unbound
Elizabeth Culliford judges the Bodleian's annual bookbinding competition ... more  Add a comment

Scholar reveals truth behind Shelley's poem
A Cambridge scholar has turned detective to shed new light on the censorship and rewriting of Percy Shelley's most scandalous poem, Laon and Cythna ... more  Add a comment

The future of the book shouldn't be skeuomorphic
The future of publishing has been on its way for a while. Yet with notable exceptions like The Silent History on iPad, the knee-jerk reaction of the publishing industry has been to copy the form of a physical book, skeuomorphically, creating something that bears a resemblance to print but doesn't do much else besides ... more  Add a comment

Medieval Reading Abbey manuscript goes on display
An ancient manuscript documenting part of Reading Abbey's history dating back to the 14th Century is being displayed publicly for the first time ... more  Add a comment

50 unseen Rudyard Kipling poems discovered
Scholar unearths trove of unpublished work by poet voted Britain's favourite ... more  Add a comment

Leeds Library: Hidden cultural gem
Located up above the shops at 18, Commercial Street, lies an important piece of the city's cultural history. The independent Leeds Library is open to members who pay an annual subscription and has been there since 1768 ... more  Add a comment

'Culture sofa' to be made from books
A Derry mental health charity has come up with a 'novel' way of marking the City of Culture year through art - and needs your old books to craft a unique piece of furniture ... more  Add a comment

Jungle Book author's home for sale
The Annals of Inisfallen - believed to have been written in Tipperary beginning in 1092 - have been kept at the Bodleian Library for more than 250 years ... more  Add a comment

Laurie Lee: Cider With Rosie author's daughter reveals childhood trauma
Jessy Lee, 49, admitted that life growing up with her father was in stark contrast to the picturesque village world depicted in his bestselling novel Cider With Rosie. In a magazine interview, Miss Lee said that she has sought therapy as a result of her father uncontrolled emotions, which included struggling to cope with his wild mood swings ... more  Add a comment

Jane Austen stamps - in pictures
The Royal Mail is joining in the celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice with the release of a series of stamps featuring all six of Jane Austen's novels ... more  Add a comment

From bombs to books
Better known for its bomb detecting technology, Cambridge company Owlstone is now turning its attention to the conservation of valuable books ... more  Add a comment

Researcher uncovers origins of rare hymn book
A University of Manchester professor has spent the last two years researching what he believes to be the only surviving copy of a Chartist hymn book ... more  Add a comment

Rare poem by 'world's worst poet' expected to fetch 3,000
One of the unpublished works of a music hall performer William Topaz McGonagall, who gained infamy as the world's worst poet, is expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction ... more  Add a comment

Only in America
Used Books and Guns (thanks to Shaun Kenaelly for the photo)Books & Guns  Add a comment

'Missing' Banksy Jubilee work listed at 450,000
A piece of art created by Banksy ahead of last summer's Diamond Jubilee has appeared on an American auction site after being removed from a wall in north London ... more  Add a comment

Mahatma Gandhi letter sells for 115,000
A letter written by Mahatma Gandhi has sold for £115,000 at auction - after being expected to fetch £10-15,000. The letter, typed by Gandhi when he was detained in India by British forces in 1943, contains a plea for his freedom ... more  Add a comment

Memories of Camelot up for auction
No one was closer to President John F. Kennedy than his longtime aide, Dave Powers. After Powers died in 1998, his family discovered the treasure trove of history he'd acquired over the years. This weekend, it's going up for auction ... more  Add a comment

Malian Manuscript Foundation film
The recent conflict in the Malian city of Timbuktu has endangered thousands of significant ancient manuscripts. The Malian Manuscript Foundation has been working since March 2011 to preserve the manuscripts and raise awareness of their significance by way of the documentary film "333" ... more  Add a comment

William Blake's Book of Job on show in Manchester
A "masterpiece by one of Britain's greatest artists" which was discovered after a search of a library's archives has gone on display in Manchester ... more  Add a comment

Lucian Freud sketches sell for 16,300 at auction
Three sketches drawn by Lucian Freud while he was a student have sold for £16,300 at auction. The artist Maggi Hambling was selling the ink on paper life studies, which are thought to have been drawn in the 1940s, in Dedham, Essex. ... more  Add a comment

World's largest collection of authors on vinyl up for sale
Greg Gatenby has accumulated what he calls the world's largest collection of authors on wax. And all 1719 pieces of vinyl are currently for sale ... more  Add a comment

Oxford and Cambridge team up to buy manuscripts
This week the two institutions launched a fundraising drive to acquire the "Lewis-Gibson Genizah Collection", which consists of more than 1,700 fragments of historic Hebrew documents, of both religious and secular importance, including a 12th century engagement deed, a witness account of the Crusades and a fragment of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah written by the scholar himself. ... more  Add a comment

Gandhi letter up for auction in Shropshire
A letter written by Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi from a British prison cell nearly 70 years ago is set to go under the hammer in Shropshire ... more  Add a comment

Private libraries have good story to sell
Across the UK, writers and book lovers are plotting how to save their local libraries. In Newcastle, authors are staging a "take over" of 10 earmarked for closure; in Blackpool, readers are spending the evening celebrating romantic heroes from Mr Darcy to Mr Grey; and Plymouth library is offering classes in tracing your family history. The events, all being held on Saturday to mark National Libraries Day, underline the importance of public libraries to communities throughout the UK ... more  Add a comment

Winston Churchill manuscript reveals his poetic side
Only known poem written by the adult Churchill, now dismissed as 'heavy-footed', expected to fetch up to £15,000 at auction ... more  Add a comment

Patti Smith: Camera Solo
Anyone looking for that single thread connecting aspects of Patti Smith's sprawling, improvisatory life and career as rocker, poet, artist, playwright, author and punk icon needs to visit Patti Smith: Camera Solo, beginning Feb. 9 at the Art Gallery of Ontario ... more  Add a comment

Virginia Woolf's fun side revealed
An affectionate, mischievous side to Virginia Woolf is set to be revealed in the author's last unpublished work, a series of 90-year-old family vignettes that will be released for the first time this summer ... more  Add a comment

Rare autograph book up for auction in Limerick
An "extremely rare" autograph book with signatures from Irish Republican prisoners nearly a century ago could fetch up to €3,000 at auction this month. ... more  Add a comment

Book returned to library after 55 years
A mystery Good Samaritan has reunited a library with a long lost book, almost 55 years after it was checked out ... more  Add a comment

Photos of golden age stars for auction
The portfolio by Angus McBean spans a range of screen legends including Marlene Dietrich and Richard Burton as well as musical giants such as The Beatles and Shirley Bassey ... more  Add a comment

Engraving and Etching 1400-2000
Elizabeth Upper welcomes an indispensible survey of the history of printmaking ... more  Add a comment

Why it's worth collecting gardening literature
Gardening books, in theory at least, ought to lend themselves to being collected. The subject inspires beautiful design and evocative writing. A watercolour of an orchid will not become less elegant with time, and can gain an attractive patina with age. But are such books worth collecting as antiques? ... more  Add a comment

Radical bookshop is burned, but the ideas survive
After an arsonist struck the Freedom Press, 60 volunteers came together in an awe-inspiring display of solidarity to clean up ... more  Add a comment

Finnegans Wake becomes a hit book in China
Following billboard ads, James Joyce's nigh-incomprehensible book leaps over language barrier to reach surprising readership ... more  Add a comment

Real-life James Bond gadget manual sells at auction
A book containing ingenious JamesBond-style gadgets invented in real life by British 'spooks' to help prisoners of war escape has fetched 5000 pounds at auction. The 76 page book details what the gadgets were, how they were made and concealed in innocuous domestic items ... more  Add a comment

Hackney is now home to the UK's first book arts centre
This past Sunday, February 3, the UK’s very first book arts centre, the London Centre for Book Arts, officially opened its doors in Hackney ... more  Add a comment

Book fair proves print remains relevant
Facebook has more than one billion users; Newsweek magazine has shut down its printing presses; meanwhile, the Huffington Post flaunts 8 million unique users. It is fair to say that the health of print media is noticeably decaying every month. But the L.A. Art Book Fair at the Museum of Contemporary Art, held Friday through Sunday, proved that print media is by no means ready to roll over and die just yet ... more  Add a comment

Controversial lines cut from Siegfried Sassoon poem
A draft of one of Siegfried Sassoon's most famous anti-war poems has come to light, revealing that the most controversial lines were cut and others were toned down before publication ... more  Add a comment

Unlikely group saved Timbuktu's manuscripts
The saving of Timbuktu’s priceless manuscripts owes everything to the bravery of an unlikely group - librarians. The coalition of Tuareg separatists and Islamic militants who overran the city last April were just the latest in a series of foreign invaders to sweep into the fabled desert city, so the owners of Timbuktu’s manuscripts did what they have always done - they hid them ... more  Add a comment

London in Maps - Laurence Worms 12 February
These seminars are aimed at a broad audience including book-collectors, book-dealers, historians of all kinds, librarians, indeed at anyone with an interest in collecting any sort of text from the sixth-former to the retired professor. The atmosphere will be informal, as will the presentations. They are held in the University of London’s Senate House and run from 6.00 to 7.30 pm on the second Tuesday of each month ... more  Add a comment

In praise of maps that fold
A physical map has always had the power to thrill. But you can't be an armchair traveler with the map on your phone ... more  Add a comment

Anarchist bookshop in suspected firebomb attack
An east London store known as "Britain's largest anarchist bookshop" has been badly damaged in a suspected firebomb attack ... more  Add a comment

Reading Abbey manuscript on display
A medieval manuscript that sheds new light on life at Reading Abbey during the 13th and 14th centuries will be put on public display for the first time ... more  Add a comment

Israeli library unveils ancient Afghan manuscripts
A trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew characters rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan is providing the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there a thousand years ago ... more  Add a comment