In the bleak mid-winter

In the bleak mid-winter

5th December 2019

As today (5 December) is Christina Rossetti‘s birthday, we thought it apt to feature her in our Christmas carol countdown. ‘In the bleak mid-winter’ was based on the hauntingly beautiful poem by Rossetti, which was first published (without music) in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly. Its first appearance with music was in 1906, […]

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas

4th December 2019

Who doesn’t love a rousing round of ‘Good King Wenceslas’? And who could forget Hugh Grant singing it in Love Actually? If you were thinking this carol was Victorian, you would be correct. While the tune itself dates from the fourteenth century (The New Oxford Book of Carols, p. 353), it wasn’t until the 1850s […]

Ding dong! merrily on high

Ding dong! merrily on high

3rd December 2019

Continuing on in our series of Christmas carols, it’s ‘Ding dong! merrily on high’, one of our personal favourites! Its first appearance (words only) was in George Ratcliffe Woodward‘s Carols for Yule-tide (privately printed, Highgate Village, 1922): Traditionally, the first edition of ‘Ding dong! merrily on high’ (and ‘Past three a clock’) have been ascribed […]

Adeste, fideles

Adeste, fideles

2nd December 2019

December and a hard frost have arrived here in Chesham, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for a good carol or two! One of Simon’s pet projects for a while now has been acquiring first appearances in print of well-known Christmas carols. We thought, given the season, it would be nice to share […]

‘The jewel at the heart of English comic literature’

‘The jewel at the heart of English comic literature’

26th November 2019

In our recent e-list, we featured what the great William Trevor once called ‘The jewel at the heart of English comic literature’, and one of our favourite recent acquisitions: George and Weedon Grossmith’s The Diary of a Nobody. This copy is the first edition in book form, first issue (with the final leaf of adverts […]

Irving’s Merchant

Irving’s Merchant

11th November 2019

The Boston Book Fair is only days away and, as the trunks have already left to go on their journey across the Atlantic, we find ourselves with a little bit of time to sit down with a nice cup of tea and write a blog post. We were pleased to be able to include in […]