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.

October 2013

Jane Austen 'airbrushed' on new 10 note
Austen expert says the Bank of England should use the portrait by the author's sister rather than the newer 'saccharine' one ... more  Add a comment

British book dealer discovers rare maps of Houston
When looking through old books, it is a good idea to pay attention and know something of cartography. In the case of Daniel Crouch, a book dealer in England, he was both attentive and knowledgeable when he found a handful of rare maps of Texas drawn by scientist Jean Louis Berlandier in the early 1800s. The maps, depicting the Texas Gulf Coast, specifically Brazos Santiago, a town destroyed by hurricanes in the area near Galveston Bay. This was well before any urban development and about five years before the Allen Brothers hoodwinked a bunch of people into settling in Houston ... more  Add a comment

From wigs to Whigs
Who were the Georgians? A new exhibition at the British Library goes beyond Jane Austen and toff rule to redefine the era's protagonists, from journalists to surgeons to pornographers ... more  Add a comment

Letters of the rich and famous
Letter writing is said to be a dying art. But an online archive of illuminating correspondence is keeping it alive. Shaun Usher, founder of Letters of Note, explains ... more  Add a comment

Hooked on Penguins
All readers are familiar with the distinctive branding of Penguin paperbacks, and there can be few Dabblers who don't have at least half a dozen or so on their bookshelves. Karyn Reeves, however, has about 2,000 of them - and she reviews them on a weekly basis on her blog A Penguin a Week. Here's why ... more  Add a comment

Knight v snail - in pictures
Knights are often pictured fighting snails in medieval manuscripts - but their significance has been lost in the slime of time. British Library experts have been tracking down the mighty molluscs and pondering their significance ... more  Add a comment

"It's gruesome and awful and fascinating"
Some people wonder how their lives would appear in a book, but few wonder what it would be like to literally become the binding of one ... more  Add a comment

Meet the Pope's Jewish Bookbinder
The advent of the Internet has not seen off the format of the book, nor is its demise coming anytime soon. Yehuda Miklaf, a Jerusalem-based bookbinder, has a backlog of orders, and his highly regarded editions are still in demand. Despite the specialized and somewhat exclusive nature of Miklaf's work, his burgeoning trade testifies to the fact that books remain very much in the cultural domain and will for some time to come ... more  Add a comment

View to a killing
Early imprints of the Bond books increase in value every year. Is this just down to a large readership, or does it say something more fundamental about Ian Fleming's creation? ... more  Add a comment

The Library: A World History by James WP Campbell
Clive Aslet is impressed by a glorious study of that most venerable of institutions: the library ... more  Add a comment

Folger Shakespeare Library's collection to go online
Next month, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC will release a series of apps that will broaden access to thousands of original books and manuscripts from Shakespearean England ... more  Add a comment

The Library: A World History by James WP Campbell
Clive Aslet is impressed by a glorious study of that most venerable of institutions: the library ... more  Add a comment

Singer Harry Belafonte sues King family
Harry Belafonte, the singer, actor and veteran civil rights activist, is suing the estate of Martin Luther King Jr as part of a dispute with King's family over a collection of documents Belafonte intends to auction for charity ... more  Add a comment

Richard III manuscript on show at Yorkshire Museum
When a 600-year-old House Book manuscript goes on show at the Yorkshire Museum today, it will be left open on pages revealing Richard's visits to the city of York ... more  Add a comment

Pay more for rare papers or I'll burn them
When the Sun-Times reported last year that 52-year-old contractor Rufus McDonald found them while clearing out an attic near 75th and Sangamon, he was praised as a hero who'd unearthed forgotten details of a pioneering African-American intellectual's life ... more  Add a comment

New comic and graphic novel festival at kendal
There's a new kind of comic event coming to our shores, modelled not on the superhero-focused all-American approach, but on a much closer neighbour: the European comic festival. With founder patrons including the Costa prize-winning Mary and Bryan Talbot, the Lakes International comic art festival has an eclectic guest list, from the artist of The Walking Dead, Charlie Adlard, to the graphic journalist Joe Sacco ... more  Add a comment

PG Wodehouse donation
An anonymous donor has given a £1,000 copy of a 1931 book to a charity shop. Stunned staff at the Harborne branch of Oxfam in Birmingham, discovered the rarity in a carrier bag left at the shop ... more  Add a comment

Cathedral opens its collections of old books
Durham Cathedral started a new series of Show and Tell events on Saturday (October 12th) with a session devoted to early mathematical books ... more  Add a comment

A secret library, digitally excavated
Just over a thousand years ago, someone sealed up a chamber in a cave outside the oasis town of Dunhuang, on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China. The chamber was filled with more than five hundred cubic feet of bundled manuscripts. They sat there, hidden, for the next nine hundred years. When the room, which came to be known as the Dunhuang Library, was finally opened in 1900, it was hailed as one of the great archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, on par with Tutankhamun's tomb and the Dead Sea Scrolls ... more  Add a comment

Discovered manuscript shows Marcuse's evolution
For scholars, the discovery of a long-forgotten manuscript is the academic equivalent of hitting the jackpot. Such a find can ignite years of discussion and renewed interest in the author and the work. The recent unearthing of a draft of a classic text, "One-Dimensional Man," by former Brandeis politics professor Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) promises to spark the kind of heated debate among academics, students and fellow thinkers for which Marcuse, a Marxist, was legendary and, in some quarters (even at Brandeis), notorious ... more  Add a comment

Does this map prove that China discovered America before Columbus?
Controversial historian Gavin Menzies is claiming that this map from 1418 proves that the New World was discovered by China's Admiral Zheng He some 70 years before Columbus. But that's not the half of it ... more  Add a comment

Marilyn Monroe's chin implant X-rays up for auction
A physician's notes on Marilyn Monroe that indicate that the Hollywood sex symbol had undergone cosmetic surgery will be up for sale next month along with a set of her X-rays, an auction house said on Tuesday. The set of six X-rays and a file of doctors' notes that offer a partial medical history of the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress from 1950 to 1962, are expected to fetch between $15,000 and $30,000 at auction on November 9 and 10, said Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California ... more  Add a comment

Black Beauty author Anna Sewell letters discovered
A rare collection of letters, signed by Black Beauty author Anna Sewell between 1820 and 1860, has been brought back to her home county of Norfolk ... more  Add a comment

Why do knights fight snails in illuminated manuscripts?
The marginalia of illuminated manuscripts is weird. When monks weren't complaining about their jobs as they hand-copied line after line, they were inserting fart jokes into the margins. But one weirdly persistent image is of knights battling snails. Why? ... more  Add a comment

Free bookshop in Holloway is act of kindness
A abandoned pub reopened yesterday as a free bookshop, run by a group determined to carry out random acts of generosity. The Kindness Project, in Camden Road, Holloway, on the former site of The Latin Corner pub, aims to give away 100,000 books and is set up by The Kindness Offensive - an organisation that performs "both small and large-scale random acts of kindness" ... more  Add a comment

Wales prepares to resurrect the reputation of Dylan Thomas
The little park where he played as a boy in Swansea has had a facelift, and a bronze statue is to be erected outside his childhood home. Manuscripts and rare photographs have been borrowed from an archive in New York, and his quotations have been liberally applied to council vehicles. Wales is preparing to embrace once again Dylan Thomas, its errant son, 100 years after his birth. Next year the poet who was too "English for the Welsh and too Welsh for the English" is finally to receive the full accolades many feel he has long deserved ... more  Add a comment

Charles Dickens statue fundraising auction planned
Fundraisers for the first Charles Dickens statue in the UK are organising an auction to help meet their target ... more  Add a comment

William Burroughs and Tom Wolfe headline beat literature auction
An empty vial that once contained methadone prescribed to William Burroughs and a 1968 first edition of Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, signed by 45 stars of the 60s counterculture scene, are being auctioned in San Francisco next week as part of the sale of a unique collection of beat and avant-garde literature and ephemera ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare folios seller resigns
A university librarian who proposed the sale of Shakespeare's folios has resigned weeks after his undeclared romantic link with an employee at the auction house set to sell them was revealed ... more  Add a comment

The world's oldest Jewish prayer book?
A rare Hebrew text dating back to the 9th century has been unveiled by a collector of rare biblical artefacts - and it is believed to be the world's oldest Jewish prayer book. The 50-page binder was found in Jerusalem and following carbon tests by experts and scholars, the book is believed to have been made around 840 C.E ... more  Add a comment

"Mark Twain"was a brand
Newly uncovered information about the name's origins reveals how shrewd a businessman the author really was ... more  Add a comment

Rescued manuscripts must go back to Timbuktu
Dr Mohamed Diagayete is in an agitated state as he stands in front of stacks of green metal cases containing thousands of invaluable ancient manuscripts from the fabled medieval city of Timbuktu, northern Mali. "Bamako is the worst; it is hell," he says in halting English ... more  Add a comment

No news today ...
I'm away for a few days, so no news until October 3rd.  Add a comment