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March 2003



Hanni Kraus - legendary New York bookseller

Hans Kraus arrived in New York on October 12, 1939, a refugee recently released from Buchenwald, with just one small but valuable book in his bag. Hanni Zucker, born like Hans him in Vienna, had escaped with her family to Switzerland, arriving in New York early in November 1939 and met Hans Kraus soon after her arrival.

For him, meeting her was the first stroke of the good luck that seemed to attend him thereafter, and he recognised at once that he had found not only a wife to cherish but also a partner who would be essential to his business, one who watched over the accounts and made sure that the money needed for purchases was covered by incoming revenue, dealing in magnificent books and manuscripts. They became the dominant New York booksellers from the 1950s to the 1980s.

He was never one to conceal the debt he owed to Hanni, a constant companion in and out of the shop, and their happy partnership ended only with Hans’s death in November 1988. Hanni's appetite for work was undiminished. She set up a fund in memory of Hans at the Beinecke Library at Yale, attended the annual congresses of the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie, and continued to go into the shop. Her part in building up the firm her husband founded was no less important than his, and its greatness today, now in the hands of her daughter Mary Ann and her husband Roland Folter, is their joint achievement.


Morchilla and Ptarmagon

The story of Hugh Montgomery's 'The Voyage of the Arctic Tern' is by now well known (see September 2002 Newsletter - now archived, link above). Having failed to find a publisher, he postponed his wedding, borrowed the money, and self-published a limited edition of just 2000. The title was bought by Walker/Candlewick and has since gone on to achieve international success.

And now we hear that he is set to do it all again...! 'Morchilla and Ptarmagon'.

Inspired by his mountaineering career, the book is a myth set high in the mountains which will be published at the end of May in a limited edition of under 500 and will be featured in a newsletter soon. In the meantime anyone interested in reserving a copy, please email info@ibooknet.co.uk for more information.

Image courtesy Stella Books Edward Ardizzone

An exhibition of the work of Edward Ardizzone is being held at Thomas Heneage Art Books, 42 Duke Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6DJ from March 10th-20th, 10am to 6pm.

One hundred first editions in dustjackets will be on display along with original drawings, Christmas cards, posters and lithographs. A feature of the exhibition will be four lunchtime lectures on the life, letters, illustrations and prints of Ardizzone. Details tel: 020 8994 9740.

Ian Sinclair

Did you ever wonder why author, former and still occasional bookdealer Iain Sinclair never won the Booker McConnell - now Man Booker - Prize for Fiction?

Many thanks to Iain for permitting us to reproduce this excellent - if circuitous - take on the pinnacle of literary achievement (maybe) originally written in 1986, for the now-defunct driff's Antiquarian & Second Hand Book Fortnightly (a prize work of fiction itself).  It is too large for this newsletter and so is in a separate page - Click here or on Iain's image to view:

Events at Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

The Brontë Influence: starting the weekend of 15/16 March, 2003: A brand new 20 credit course run in conjunction with University of Leeds, School of Continuing Education. The course will look at the Brontës' own works and their influence on others, in print and on stage, screen and radio. It will consist of four linked weekends taking place in Haworth, and can lead to a Certificate in Brontë Studies - Further details and application forms from the Education Officer  (tel: +44(0)1535 642323)

The Hidden Face of Charlotte Brontë: 2.30pm Wednesday, March 19, 2003: A talk by Dr Lyndall Gordon of Oxford University on the more invisible aspects of Charlotte's life and the gaps in our knowledge - Haworth School Room - £2.00 admission

Nineteen long lost William Blake watercolours, found in a second-hand bookshop, have sold for an estimated £4.9m. The works, commissioned in 1804 illustrating Robert Blair's Gothic poem 'The Grave', were sold privately by London art dealer Libby to an anonymous overseas buyer after the settlement of a High Court battle over their ownership.

The result is a huge windfall for the two Yorkshire book dealers Paul Williams and Jeffery Bates who discovered them, Caledonia Books of Glasgow, where the pictures were found, and the estate which had sold them to the bookshop. Until the watercolours came to light there had been no trace of the illustrations since the originals were sold at an Edinburgh auction in 1836. The only known record of them had been a set of engravings of twelve of them, produced by Luigi Schiavonetti.

The previous record was £195,000, paid for a Blake work at Sotheby's in 1998.

Collecting Enid Blyton
by Green Meadow Books

I have collected Enid Blyton books all my life, and is interesting to see how things have changed over the years. I remember being very upset when my Daddy bought me a Famous Five book with a white spine as it didn’t conform to my earlier ones, complete with picture on the spine, and the letter from Enid Blyton - but it was actually a first edition! Sadly, apart from my precious Famous Fives, I gave away many of my books when I left home. These included my wonderful Bestime jigsaw puzzles, including the Famous Five ones, delectably illustrated by Eileen Soper of course. I am still looking for many of these, 40 years later.

In the 1950’s, my Aunt took me to a children’s book Fair, where Miss Blyton was due to attend. Great excitement at the thought of actually meeting her! Sadly she was bitten by a dog and was being treated in hospital and unable to attend. I had to make do with meeting Richmal Crompton, (William has always been another favourite) Captain W.E. Johns, and Noel Streatfeild. It was great to chat to these authors, who happily signed books and autograph albums too.

In the 1960’s I began actively searching for all the books I had given away, for my own children. It didn’t really matter which edition, or even whether they had dustwrappers, although that was obviously nicer. This was still very much the case when I began bookselling in 1982. I sold a first edition of Malcolm Saville’s “Where’s My Girl”, mint condition and signed as he was a dear friend, for the princely sum of £3.50! At this time no one ever even considered whether or not a dustwrapper was price clipped. (This is a fad I find really irritating!)

 It is amazing that the price of these children’s books has now reached such heights, and that they hold their own with adult fiction “Modern Firsts”. In the 1980’s they were sadly treated with disdain by so many but now are exceptionally hard to find. Occasionally, items still turn up in catalogues, but generally the real treasures only seem to surface when offered privately. I think the ephemeral items are also most appealing.

In twenty years of being a book dealer, Enid Blyton has been the only continual favourite. Other authors come and go, but she is definitely the only constant top seller. So, if you find any Bestime jigsaws, I will be very glad to give them a home!

World Book Day is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and will take place in UK and Ireland on Thursday 6th March. It is a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all.

A main aim of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. Thanks to the generosity of Book Tokens Ltd and numerous participating booksellers, every schoolchild is entitled to receive a World Book Day £1 Book Token (or equivalent Euro Book Token in Ireland). The aim is to encourage all of us, at whatever age, to enjoy the pleasures of reading. For the first time for 2003, World Book Day has undertaken a poll specifically for adults to find out which book each nation of the UK thinks best represents who we are today (see below).

'State of the nation' books shortlist:

The books which best represent the national characters of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish in the 'We are what we read' campaign are down to shortlists of ten in each category, from which one will be chosen by readers of regional newspapers and listeners to the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The winners will be announced on World Book Day, March 6. The full shortlists are given below.

England ·

  • Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  • Shameless by Paul Burston
  • What a Carve Up! By Jonathan Coe Satire
  • Manchester, England by Dave Haslam
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  • Captive State by George Monbiot
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The English by Jeremy Paxman
  • Whispers in the Walls: New Black and Asian Voices from Birmingham, edited by Leone Rosse and Yvonne Brisset
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Scotland ·

  • The Broons Annual Cartoon
  • The Crow Road by Iain Banks
  • Mountain Days and Bothy Nights by Dave Brown and Ian Mitchell
  • One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre
  • Me and Ma Gal by Des Dillon
  • Lanark by Alasdair Gray
  • Not for Glory by Janet Paisley
  • Set in Darkness by Ian Rankin
  • Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
  • Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Northern Ireland

  • Special Relationships by Paul Arthur
  • Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane
  • Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood
  • The Wasted Years by Mary A Larkin
  • Desire Lines by Annie McCartney
  • Northern Protestants by Sudan McKay
  • Blue Tango by Eoin McNamee
  • Momentum by Mo Mowlam
  • The International by Glenn Patterson
  • Sister Genevieve by John Rae


  • A History of Wales by John Davies
  • Work, Sex and Rugby by Lewis Davies
  • Entertainment by Richard John Evans
  • The People of Wales, edited by Gareth Elwyn Jones and Dai Smith Nine
  • Power, edited by Elin ap Hywel
  • Magpies, edited by Robert Nisbet
  • Residues by RS Thomas
  • In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl by Rachel Tresize
  • Sugar and Slate by Charlotte Williams
  • Cardiff Dead by John Williams

Further to our report last month, the publisher Frances Lincoln has acquired the rights to the Alfred Wainwright walking guides and the seven 'Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells', compiled between 1952 and 1966, and 'The Outlying Fells of Lakeland', will be available in April.

 The books are among 50 volumes on the Lake District by Wainwright which are now owned by Frances Lincoln. No firm decision has been taken on whether the guides are to be revised but the publishing programme after the launch has been outlined with further walking guides to be published including 'A Coast to Coast Walk' in June, 'Memoirs of a Fellwanderer' later this year and 'Pennine Way Companion' in spring 2004. Some of Wainwright’s sketchbooks of drawings and other volumes, which have been out of print for many years, will also be reissued.

Next Month: The leading article for April 2003 is yet to be decided

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