Saturday, March 05, 2005

Report on my haul from today's book sale...

I found some really cool books!! Even thought it was quite a crush, as always. My mum and I were there by about quarter to nine and stood outside with the other early birds. At least the sun was warm and there wasn't much wind, so we were pretty comfortable for those few minutes.

Once inside, I headed for the history section and pulled out Royal Heritage: The Story of Britain's Royal Builders and Collectors, by JH Plumb and Huw Wheldon. Lovely hardback with lots of b/w piccies plus some gorgeous colour plates. And good information. No footnotes or bibliography, but a detailed lists of illustrations and comprehensive index - pretty good for $3.00!

The next find was a small book called The Companion Guide to London, by David Piper. A wonderful volume divided into chapters on the main areas of London, illustrated with b/w maps and photos. Though over 40 years old, it's still very useful - includes two indexes, one listing the people mentioned and one listing the places and subjects. There's also a brief biblography and a section for those travelling to London. The eateries etc will be out of date to an extent, but the list of city churches/galleries/museums likely is fairly accurate. I bought this book to add to my collection of books on London both for my fiction writing and my family history (my mum's parents were both born in London at the end of the Victorian period).

I then came across Romantic and Victorian Poetry, edited by William Frost.
Useful for setting a mood, checking vocabulary and just because I love this era in poetry :-)

After fighting my way round the end of the table (the sale is in a small room with books lined up on two sets of tables lined up lengthwise), I moved back up to the biography section and found Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Greatest Courtesan of her Age (Lesley Blanch editor). The illustration on the front told me it was roughly in my time period (Georgian) and I was right, though it's a tad later, having been written in the 1820s and covering the period from about 1801 and into Prinny's regency. Even though my own ms is set in 1793, I'm fairly certain most of the language will not be outrageously different and frankly, the book looks really interesting. There's an introduction (that strikes me as rather lacking in specific dates), reprints of some letters Harriette wrote to Lord Byron and a handy set of short bios of the main people featured in the book, as well as a good index. I'm looking forward to dipping into it.

Other finds include A Midwife's Tale: the Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. It's American (and can be found online at, but I wanted it because a) I'm fairly certain midwifery in the US wasn't much different from midwifery in Europe (am willing to stand corrected on this if I'm wrong) and b) it looks really interesting, even if I don't end up using it directly in any fiction writing (though who knows, one day I may set a book over this side of the Atlantic!) Also - The Book of Women: 300 Notable Women History Passed By, The Island of Lost Maps, The Professor and the Madman, a photo book of the Isle of Wight and First Folks and Vile Voyageurs (Children's book about Canada in the Horrible Histories series). So - now I just have to find room for them on my bookshelves!!!

I catalogued them as soon as I arrived home, using a handy little programme called Book Collector. I can then integrate it into another piece of software, ListPro, which I then HotSync with my Palm, so I always have a list of my books with me at book sales. Why, you ask? Well, I'm famous for forgetting which books I already own, so have bought second copies on a number of occasions. I was thrilled when the latest update of BC added the Amazon CA feed - we have some books here in Canada that are pubbed with different ISBNs from the American and British versions (Elizabeth Hallam's books are a prime example of this), so it's nice to now have the correct info right off, rather than having to input it manually.

Well - I'm getting a tad peckish, so best go find something for lunch. Am off for a walk soon as it's a lovely day here and I figure a walk outside is better than a trip to the gym. Nice to take advantage of the good weather when it shows up at this time of year.



Kate Allan said...

I much enjoyed Hariette Wilson. And this is just the kind of stuff to get the feel for the Regency language of conversation. You are going to love it!

I also love books of letters for this reason. A great find in a second hand bookshop last year was a book of letters from Princess Lieven. (John Murray, 1937) Her husband was Russian Ambassador in London from 1811 to 1834.

Tess said...

I know! Can hardly wait to dip into it. But I've two more books to read for review first. THEN I'll be able to pick it up.

Very cool about the letters of Princess Lieven. I collect primary sources too. Among other things *g*.