We have received our delivery of books from Little Toller, an imprint of the Dovecote Press. From their Dorset base this publisher specialises in books of the English countryside, rescued from obscurity and reprinted in new editions inspired by the spirit of the original editions, replete with contemporary illustrations in a wonderfully tactile, sewn paperback.
We have chosen six titles, each a reprint of a classic depiction of nature or of rural life, from the centenary edition of the poet Edward Thomas’ South Country, to the exploration of 1970s inner-city wildlife that is Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside. As the winter evenings draw in, surely now is the perfect time to lose yourself in a good book?
Men and the Fields - Adrian Bell
Introduced by Ronald Blythe, with a preface by Martin Bell. This edition restores the original colour lithographs and black and white line drawings by John Nash that appeared in the first edition.
‘I sat against an oak trunk, staring at oak trunks, tracing their boughs upward to the hurrying white clouds beyond, and wondered why one worried about anything. But then I ceased even to wonder, but dozed awake, like a tree.’
Four Hedges - Claire Leighton
Introduced by Carol Klein, with a preface by David Leighton. Includes 84 wood engravings by the author.
'In the Sky, above our meadow, larks sing. I feel a sudden rush of pride in the ownership of this untilled land; it is not that I value possession, but I am proud to be landlord to the lark who pays for his home with such boundless song.’
The South Country - Edward Thomas
Introduced by Robert Macfarlane. Cover illustration by David Inshaw, with engravings by Eric Daglish throughout.
'Unlearned, incurious, but finding deepest ease and joy out of doors, I have gone about the South Country these twenty years and more on foot… When, in the clear windy dawn, thin clouds like traveller’s joy are upon the air, it seems that up there also, in those placid places, they travel and know the joy of the road.’
Sweet Thames Run Softly - Robert Gibbins
Introduced by Luke Jennings. Cover by Edwin La Dell with wood engravings by Robert Gibbings.
’All I could see was the rushes and their reflections on either side of the river. Nothing was visible beyond them, and the banks, following each bend, cut off my view ahead so that I seemed to be floating on some enchanted lake, high up on the very rim of the world.’
The Unofficial Countryside - Richard Mabey
Introduced by Iain Sinclair. Cover illustration by Mary Newcomb, with illustrations from Mary Newcomb’s sketchbook.
’… the canal here was as clear as a chalk stream. Yellow water lilies drooped like balls of molten wax on the surface. Near the edge of the water drifts of newly hatched fish hung in the shallows. Anglers, fresh out of work, were setting up their tackle on the bank, and family parties chugged past in holiday cruisers…’
The Journal of a Disappointed Man - W.N.P. Barbellion
Introduced by Tim Dee. Cover illustration by Ed Kluz, with 3 facsimiles of handwritten letters by the author.
’… my pen is a delicate needle point, tracing out a graph of temperament… You get all my thoughts and opinions, always irresponsible and often contradictory or mutually exclusive, all my moods and vapours, all the varying reactions to environment of this jelly which is I… the book is a self-portrait in the nude.’
Each book is £10.00, and all are available at our Redchurch Street Store.