The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, December 2003 | Go to article overview
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The World of Paperbacks


A newcomer to this column is PERSEPHONE BOOKS of Lamb's Conduit in London. This small publisher, which brings out eight new titles a year, has made a name for itself and has had three of its books read or adapted on BBC Radio Four--no mean achievement. The firm specialises in reprinting 'neglected novels, biography, poetry, short stories ... mostly by women writers and mostly dating from the early to mid-twentieth century'. New titles recently published include Leonard Woolf's The Wise Virgins, which was first published in 1913. It will give a new generation of readers a unique insight into the Bloomsbury group by the husband of Virginia Woolf. A second new title is Frances Towers' Tea With Mr Rochester, a collection of short stories which first appeared in 1949, the year after that in which the writer died suddenly. Two other new titles are Elizabeth Cambridge's Hostages to Fortune and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's The Blank Wall. The books, which sell at [pounds sterling]10.00, are handsomely presented and their publication is a decided addition to London's literary output and a genuine service to readers.

PIMLICO has recently published a variety of history and biography titles which include Ross King's highly readable Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling ([pounds sterling]9.99) which tells the fascinating story of the painting of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. A second title is Daniel Snowman's The Hitler Emigres: The Cultural Impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism ([pounds sterling]12.99) which describes a major cultural and social event in twentieth century British history whose effects are still felt. Other historical titles include: Norman Longmate's The Workhouse: A Social History ([pounds sterling]12.50), first published in 1974 and devoted to a previous generation's attempt at social planning for the poor; Jerry White's Campbell Bunk: The Worst Street in North London between the Wars ([pounds sterling]12.50), a study of one aspect of London life in the 1920s and '30s; Russell Miller's Behind the Lines: The Oral History of Special Operations in World War II ([pounds sterling]8.99), a unique insight into SOE and OSS through the words of those involved; and Peter Vansittart's Voices from the Great War ([pounds sterling]8.99), first published in 1981. On the biographical front we have the third volume in Robert Caro's mammoth biography of the United States' first Texan President: The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Volume 3: Master of the Senate ([pounds sterling]18.00) whose 1165 pages tell in exhaustive detail the story of Johnson's rise to and exercise of power in American politics.

Among new releases in the World Classics' series from OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS we have a new edition of four English classics: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey here published with three of her shorter works: Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon ([pounds sterling]3.99), Thomas Hardy's Desperate Remedies ([pounds sterling]7.99), John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress ([pounds sterling]3.99), with original woodcuts, and Lytton Strachey's attempt at biography, Eminent Victorians ([pounds sterling]7.99). All four volumes have new introductions along with the full complement of notes, lists for further reading, appendices and chronologies that we have come to expect in this venerable series. A fifth, less well known title in the World Classics' series is Margaret Oliphant's autobiographical novel, Hester ([pounds sterling]7.99) first published in 1883. Also from Oxford we have On Modern British Fiction ([pounds sterling]8.99), the collection of seventeen essays examining current fiction edited by Zachary Leader. On its hardback edition it was praised in Contemporary Review as 'a fascinating symposium'.

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS continues its paperback version of the Yale English Monarchs series with C. Warren Hollister's Henry I ([pounds sterling]13.95). This definitive study of the second Norman king was edited and completed after Dr Hollister's death and it is good to have it in a paperback edition, especially one as handsome as this.

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