Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Familiar Surprise

One of the nice things about seeing so many books passings through my hands is to be surprised by the most unpromising looking material. The Queen's Red Cross Book is not a rare book - it is not expensive, I see it all the time knocking around secondhand bookshops and I would normally leave it there. Published in 1939 under the patronage of the late Queen Mother, it was a fundraising exercise for the Red Cross and is an anthology of writing by all the big literary names of the day. It is also illustrated.

The deluxe edition of the book - in a silk lined custom made box - was in a small auction lot of books I won recently and so I had to have a closer look at it. The illustrations were the surprise. Some beautiful and unusual pieces which I had never seen before by some of the big name illustrators: Edmund Dulac, Arthur Wragg and Dame Laura Knight. So I'm sharing my plesant surprise with you here.

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