Posted by: billpurdue | June 4, 2012

Back to the 1950s

I’m grateful to my cousin in Canada for sending me a list of the books he enjoyed in 1952. I thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about the authors which have today been forgotten by all but their devout fans. Aside from many classic and well known titles which my cousin read – H Rider Haggard, W E Johns, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Arthur Ransome etc. there are a few authors in the list which are new to me: Francis Vivian, Monica M Hutchings, Ronald Syme, Jane Lane, Hugh de Selincourt and James W Kenyon. All the titles by these authors read by my cousin during the year in question are “very good”. So now it’s time for a bit of research and my first thought is to check Wikipedia.

Well, Wikipedia is not all that forthcoming on several of the above authors. I did find out though that Francis Vivian was the pen name of Arthur E Ashley, who was one of the founding members (1927) of the Nottingham Writers’ Club. The books by Vivian which my cousin enjoyed in 1952 were Death at the Salutation and Death of Mr Lomas. These are from the “Inspector Knollis” series. I checked the Nottinghamshire libraries catalogue and found three titles by Vivian, but not those just mentioned.

Jane Lane was apparently the pen name of Elaine Kidner Dakers (1905-1978), a British historical novelist and biographer who was distantly related to the Jane Lane who came to the aid of Charles II after his defeat at Worcester. My cousin enjoyed her book Escape of the King, which is one of a short series for younger readers, all the titles beginning with the words “Escape of the ..”

Finally there were two books by Hugh de Selincourt (1878 – 1951) which my cousin thought ‘very good’: The Cricket Match and Saturday Match. The first title is reckoned to be one of the classic accounts of village cricket in English literature and is one fo the few titles from my cousin’s list (apart from the classics) which is still in print today [Read Books £16.99 978-1406794939]. The book is an account of a day in the life of an English village in which the principal event is a cricket match. It sounds like the kind of book which is not just for cricket fans but for anyone who likes to read about that era. It was first published in 1924.

The Diamond Jubilee

Now let’s get right up to date with books about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. It’s a matter of personal opinion really, but the book I prefer of those I have seen is the one by Alan Titchmarsh: Elizabeth: Her Life, Our Times: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration [BBC Books £18.99 978-1846073946]. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the other main contender from Debretts – The Queen – The Diamond Jubilee [Simon and Schuster £20 978-1849837552] looks rather sombre in comparison. As regards internal layout, the Titchmarsh books seems to have the edge, but Mr Titchmarsh does put his own personal slant on things by drawing from his own experience and time spent with the royal family. There are of course several other very similar titles around

Well, you pays yer money and you takes your choice, but expect big discounts!

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