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.

July 2016

First edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit sells for £43k
A first edition of Beatrix Potter's iconic work, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, has sold at auction for £43,400 - an increase of more than £8,000 on its listed price ... more  Add a comment

Last of the rare book cataloguers
Only a few books to go and then so will I. It's been a long journey to a virtual chapel complete with stained glass windows, weeding and shelving rare books in a reading room not twenty miles from the special collection where I first learnt the library trade nearly twenty-five years ago ... more  Add a comment

Beyond Austen and Dickens
Prestige novel adaptations are a big British export. Why can't we show a bit more imagination about what to adapt? ... more  Add a comment

'I've sent 25 tonnes of Fifty Shades of Grey to India'
It's all part of Ami's mission to find new homes for books through her business Reuseabook. Ami's idea is simple; to ensure no book ever ends up in a landfill site and from that simple idea she's built a business with her husband Rob Hollier ... more  Add a comment

Syria's secret library
When a place has been besieged for years and hunger stalks the streets, you might have thought people would have little interest in books. But enthusiasts have stocked an underground library in Syria with volumes rescued from bombed buildings - and users dodge shells and bullets to reach it ... more  Add a comment

From purple goats to monkeys bottoms
Illuminated manuscripts are the best record we have of the elation of colour in the art of the middle ages, as this new Fitzwilliam Museum exhibition shows ... more  Add a comment

Jain manuscripts and drawings from the early 19th century
The British Library holds over a thousand Jain manuscripts, most of which were collected in the 19th Century, by Indologists and East India Company officials. In a recent blog, Pasquale Manzo, the British Library's Sanskrit curator, gives an overview of these manuscripts, and news that 33 of them have been digitised ... more  Add a comment

Paper peepshows from Gestetner collection given to the V&A
Without computers, virtual reality was a very different concept 200 years ago. Clever use of optics and illusion was the key, as a paper peepshow collection given to London's Victoria and Albert Museums demonstrates beautifully ... more  Add a comment

Let's celebrate 150 years of Beatrix Potter
Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of revered children's author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, celebrated worldwide for such beloved literary characters as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-duck. In this celebration of her literary and artistic legacy, it is easy to forget she was a keen natural scientist ... more  Add a comment

Auction of antique travel posters in New York
The picture (below) is The Yorkshire Coast by Dame Laura Knight. Used to promote the London and North East Railways’ travel guide, The Holiday Handbook, this colour lithograph is a highlight in Swann Galleries’ October 27, 2016 Rare & Vintage Travel Posters sale with an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. ... more  Add a comment

Rare 16th century Scots manuscript returned
A rare 16th century manuscript which once belonged to Scots poet Alexander Hume has returned home to St Andrews University after more than four centuries ... more  Add a comment

Pop up bar features craft cocktails and rare books
The Traveller Bar offers one thing that sets it apart: the chance to thumb through history. Customers can look through collector cocktail books, published from 1860 to 1960 - including an original copy of Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide from 1862 ... more  Add a comment

Germany returns two rare manuscripts of Holy Quran to Iran
The manuscripts, which belonged to an Iranian collector living in Germany, were handed over to Iran's Counsel General Abdollah Nekunam in the presence of the Deputy Director General of the Bavarian State Library at Munich, Klaus Ceynowa ... more  Add a comment

Eight grantmakers fund hand bookbinding apprenticeships
The Clothworkers' Company is one of eight charity Founding Partners who are supporting a scheme to train apprentices in the increasingly rare skills of the hand bookbinding trade. The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship, the only one of its kind in the UK, is the first since the 1970s ... more  Add a comment

London just inherited this amazing Dick Whittington collection
The cache of over 300 books, toys, puzzles, theatre programmes and lantern slides - themed around the man who was Lord Mayor of London four times - was betrothed to the Guildhall by Ellery Yale Wood, the prolific children's book collector ... more  Add a comment

The Man Who Invented Fiction
The Man Who Invented Fiction is not a narrative biography; rather William Egginton is interested in what Cervantes' life reveals about how Don Quixote came to be, and how it might prove the bold claim in his title: that Quixote is not merely, as often claimed, the first recognisable modern novel, but offers a first definition of what fiction is and what it does ... more  Add a comment

Bibliotourism: memorable rare-book troves
Three rare-book collections in Switzerland, France and Italy are worth visiting ... more  Add a comment

Brontë Society acquires £200k book of unpublished Brontë manuscripts
The book, which will be displayed at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, is a copy of Robert Southey’s The Remains of Henry Kirke White that belonged to Mrs Maria Brontë and includes annotations by the Brontë children, including unpublished material by Charlotte Brontë ... more  Add a comment

100-year-old theatre was converted into a seriously dreamy bookshop
In a world where you can order used books for 2p from Amazon and get them to your door the next day, it's a magical thing when people get excited about a bookshop ... more  Add a comment

Roald Dahl books could be a golden ticket for Peter Harrington
With the new film The BFG coming to cinemas this week, it's a good time to revisit the words and works of its creator Roald Dahl (1916-1990) ... more  Add a comment

First edition of banned Lady Chatterley's Lover goes on sale
Book collecting "is the only form of collecting other than kleptomania that has a medical name attached to it", says Philip Murray. The name is bibliomania, and Murray should know: as well as being one of Ireland's leading book collectors, he is also a doctor ... more  Add a comment

Horseback library serves Indonesia's remote readers
For many there, this unique mobile library is their only link to books. There is no traditional library nearby, and stores are miles away in big cities. It's a problem for villages across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago ... more  Add a comment

Child doodles discovered in 14th century manuscript
Researchers have discovered a set of children's doodles in the margins of a medieval manuscript. The discovery sheds new light on the knowledge and education of children in the Middle Ages and their similarities to children of today ... more  Add a comment

Winnie-the-Pooh beats Harry Potter in best-loved book character poll
A poll of 1,200 people who read at least once a week saw AA Milne's creation top the list of favourite characters from childhood books, ahead of JK Rowling's boy wizard. George, Enid Blyton's tomboy adventurer from the Famous Five, came in third place, with The Hobbit's Bilbo Baggins and Roald Dahl's Matilda in fourth and fifth places ... more  Add a comment

New York's used book stores are having a moment
In a city where used books are ubiquitous, bookstores selling second-hand stock are multiplying and thriving ... more  Add a comment

Art 'Expert' vanishes with an precious Leonardo da Vinci sketch
The elderly woman was obviously not the only one to hope her portrait showing a young black woman in profile and signed by Da Vinci was truly part of the distinguished Italian master's oeuvre. The "expert" assigned to authenticate the precious work absconded with it before completing his evaluation, reports Le Figaro ... more  Add a comment

Pre-Gutenberg manuscripts at Melbourne's Rare Book Fair
Publishers like to complain that nobody buys books any more, but try telling that to the thousands who come to Melbourne's Rare Book Fair. It has been running for more than 30 years, attracting bigger crowds each time ... more  Add a comment

BBC children's book list too focused on daunting classics
The BBC's list of must-read books for children places too much emphasis on "timeless classics" and risks tasking children with too much to do, BookTrust has warned ... more  Add a comment

Export bar placed on £8m jewel-encrusted prayer book
A prayer book as beautiful as a piece of jewellery and once owned by King Francois I of France in 1532 has been temporarily barred from export by the government to give a British institution the chance to raise the £8m price paid by an overseas collector ... more  Add a comment

The world's oldest library has reopened
The world's oldest working library at the al-Qarawiyyin University in Fez, Morocco is once again open and ready for visitors, having been closed for massive restorations since 2012, according to Tech Insider. The al-Qarawiyyin library is part of an educational complex that began as a mosque in 859 ... more  Add a comment

Dr Seuss will see you now
Wordplay games and interactive exhibits that recreate the worlds inside the playful mind of Dr Seuss, one of the most popular of all children's writers, are to be unveiled later this month in east London ... more  Add a comment

Mahler manuscript set to fetch up to £4.5m
In November, the 232-page original manuscript of the the Second Symphony, notated in Mahler's own hand between 1888 and 1894 during breaks from his day job as a conductor, will be sold by Sotheby's in London. The first ever autograph of a complete symphony by the composer to appear at auction, it is expected to raise £3.5m to £4.5m ... more  Add a comment

Rare book opens window on early South Africa
When William Burchell's two-volume Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa was published in 1822 only 500 copies were printed and few have survived in pristine condition. Other copies have sold for R100,000 and the book is sought after for its hand-drawn maps and hand-coloured illustrations depicting a long-lost South Africa ... more  Add a comment

1,000-year-old lost music reconstructed from ancient manuscript
Exactly what music sounded like in the early Middle Ages is unknown, but some scholar-musicians from England performed a piece today that they reconstructed from an 11 th century manuscript. A page from the manuscript lost for 142 years but later found has helped three researchers rewrite the music as they believe it may have sounded during the Middle Ages ... more  Add a comment

You can stay the night in this Welsh library
If you love books, then just being surrounded by them can fill you with a sense of calm. And there is one Welsh library where you can actually stay the night ... more  Add a comment

'Spine-tingling' Beatrix Potter drawings found hidden inside books
Previously unknown drawings by Beatrix Potter have been found during cleaning work at a National Trust property. The four line drawings were found hidden inside books during conservation work at Melford Hall in Suffolk ... more  Add a comment

First published book on heliocentric theory heads for auction
Christies will auction a work of considerable scientific gravitas on July 13 in London. It is a first edition of the first printed book to propose that the Earth revolved around the Sun. 'De Libris Revolutionum Eruditissimi Viridoctoris' came not from Nicolaus Copernicus, but from his only student, Georg Joachim Rheticus, and when published in 1540, provided the momentum needed for Copernicus to finally have his landmark 'De revolutionibus orbium coelestium' published in 1543 ... more  Add a comment

'Bright orange beasty' Trump gets his own picture book
A Child's First Book of Trump is aimed at adults, says author, but could be read to children 'if they don't scare easily' ... more  Add a comment

Tokyo's Jinbocho a must-visit for lovers of antiquarian books
Jinbocho, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, is one of the world's biggest centers for browsing used books, with around 160 stores selling volumes that range from the musty and dusty to antiquarian ... more  Add a comment

Secrets of the London Library
The London Library was born in a fit of rage in 1841, exactly 175 years ago. Its founder - curmudgeonly Thomas Carlyle (he of The History of the French Revolution) - hated having to study books in the company of other people. In London at the time, that was all that was available unless you bought books yourself - an expensive option ... more  Add a comment

Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West romance set for big screen
Vita and Virginia, Eileen Atkins's fictionalisation of the friendship and affair of writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, is finally heading to the big screen ... more  Add a comment

Secret library at the heart of a converted barn
A book-lined room is concealed behind secret doors in this 17th-century barn conversion carried out by Studio Seilern Architects at an estate in Oxfordshire, England (+ slideshow) ... more  Add a comment

Man pleads not guilty to murder of Oxford book dealer
A 50-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to the murder earlier this year of an Oxford historian and book dealer. Michael Danaher, from Peterborough, entered his plea at Oxford crown court on Friday and was remanded until a full trial on 3 October ... more  Add a comment

Was Roald Dahl the best children’s author of all time?
As the movie version of The BFG arrives in theaters, it’s time to re-examine the terrifying but alluring fictonal world created by one of kid lit’s greatest authors ... more  Add a comment

Miniature designer book bindings at Yale Center for British Art
We're assembled in Yale's British Art Center on a June morning with publicists, press, museum principals and - it turns out - a few craftspeople whose skill and art are distilled into miniature books ... more  Add a comment

Burpy, baldy, deafy ...
A display of concept drawings by the seminal movie artist Albert Hurter have shed new light on some of the rejected characters who didn't make the cut in Walt Disney's 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ... more  Add a comment