front cover of Edward Lear's Nonsense Birds
Edward Lear's Nonsense Birds
Edward Lear
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2013
The Stripy Bird. The Scroobius Bird. The Obsequious Ornamental Ostrich who wore boots to keep his feet quite dry. Of all the animals that sprang from the idiosyncratic imagination of Edward Lear, few feature as frequently as birds, which appear throughout his work, from the flamboyant flock in the Nonsense Alphabet to the quirky avian characters of his limericks, stories, and songs. Lear drew himself as a bird on numerous occasions. In a popular self-portrait—later reproduced on a postage stamp—Lear even represented himself as a portly, bespectacled bird.

Edward Lear’s Nonsense Birds collects more than sixty of Lear’s bird illustrations from across his entire body of work. Often, the birds have hilariously human characteristics. There is, for instance, a Good-Natured Grey Gull, a Hasty Hen, and a Querulous Quail. The Judicious Jay is chiefly concerned with good grooming. The Vicious Vulture, meanwhile, turns out to be a wordsmith whose verses on vellum celebrate veal. Each bird is endowed with a unique personality, while collectively they form a wonderfully amusing flock. Also included are a series of twenty-four hand-colored illustrations.

Bright and beautifully illustrated, this book will make a perfect gift for children of all ages and will also be welcomed by all who love Lear’s work or are interested in learning more about his fascination with birds.

front cover of Elias Ashmole
Elias Ashmole
Founder of the Ashmolean Museum
Vittoria Feola
Bodleian Library Publishing

front cover of An Englishwoman in California
An Englishwoman in California
The Letters of Catherine Hubback, 1871-76
Edited by Zoë Klippert
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2010

A niece of Jane Austen and a novelist herself, Catherine Hubback was fifty-two years old when she left England for America. She travelled to California on the Transcontinental Railroad and settled in Oakland, on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. Her son Edward shared her household and commuted by ferryboat to a wheat brokerage in the City.

In letters to her eldest son John and his wife Mary in Liverpool, Catherine conveys her delight – and her exasperation – at her new environment. She portrays her neighbours with a novelist's wry wit and brings her English sensibility to bear on gardening with unfamiliar plants and maintaining a proper wardrobe in a dry climate. She writes vividly of her adventures as she moves about a landscape recognizable to present-day residents, at a time when boats rather than bridges spanned the bay, and hot springs were the main attraction in the Napa Valley. In an atmosphere of financial unrest, she writes freely of her anxieties, while supplementing Edward's declining income by making lace and teaching the craft to other women. She recalls her 'prosperous days' in England, but finds pleasure in small things and assuredly takes her place in a society marked by great disparities in wealth.

In addition to transcriptions of the letters, this highly readable edition offers pertinent information on many of the people and places mentioned, explanatory notes, and striking illustrations. The introduction places the letters in context and tells the story of Catherine Hubback, whose life evolved in ways unprecedented in the Austen family.


front cover of Epitaphs
A Dying Art
Edited by Samuel Fanous
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2016
Epitaphs are words to be remembered by, short poems or phrases literally written in stone. They can be practical, carrying some variation of the familiar “Here Lies,” but they can also be brilliantly creative with personally meaningful quotes or words written especially by or for the deceased. From the simple to the cleverly cryptic, epitaphs are meant to leave a lasting impression—and many certainly do.

Epitaphs brings together more than 250 epitaphs from cemeteries, churchyards, monuments, and historical records. Some announce the cause of death with a surprisingly macabre sense of humor: “Here lies John Ross. Kicked by a hoss.” Others wryly remind readers of their own impending mortality, such as a tombstone whose rhyming inscription reads “As I am now you will surely be. / Prepare thyself to follow me.” In death as in life, many of the most famous writers were not at a loss for words. Emily Dickinson’s concise wit is evident in her headstone’s inscription “Called Back.” Yeats encouraged the horsemen of the apocalypse to “pass by.” Shakespeare’s funerary monument at Stratford-upon-Avon carries the warning “Curst be he that moves my bones,” an inscription many believe the Bard himself wrote to prevent his corpse from being exhumed in the name of research, a common practice at the time.

As tribute to a form of expression that is very much alive, Epitaphs collects some of the most intriguing examples, many of which perfectly encapsulate the person buried beneath them.

front cover of Evelyn Waugh's Oxford
Evelyn Waugh's Oxford
Barbara Cooke
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2018
Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford years were so formative that the city never left him, appearing again and again in his novels in various forms. This book explores in rich visual detail the abiding importance of Oxford as both location and experience in Waugh’s works. Drawing on specially commissioned illustrations and previously unpublished photographic material, it provides a critically robust assessment of the author’s engagement with Oxford over the course of his literary career.
            Following a brief overview of Waugh’s life and work, subsequent chapters examine the prose and graphic art Waugh produced as an undergraduate, together with his portrayal of Oxford in Brideshead Revisited and his memoir, A Little Learning. A specially commissioned, hand-drawn trail around Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford guides the reader around the city Waugh knew and loved through such iconic locations as the Botanic Garden, the Oxford Union, and the Chequers.
            A unique literary biography, this book brings to life Waugh’s Oxford, exploring the lasting impression it made on one of the most accomplished literary craftsmen of the twentieth century.

front cover of An Exile on Planet Earth
An Exile on Planet Earth
Articles and Reflections
Brian Aldiss
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2012

Brian Aldiss is one of the great figures in science fiction. Classics in the genre, his books serve as portals to other worlds, captivating readers with strange and shocking narratives that have been a force for further experimentation within the genre. In addition to a highly successful career as a writer of both fiction and science fiction, Aldiss is also an accomplished artist and literary critic.

An Exile on Planet Earth presents a selection of Aldiss’s essays that look back at the landmark events in his life. Writing with eloquence and raw honesty, Aldiss reveals unexpected connections between his life and literary work. From boarding school and boyhood summers spent alone at the shore comes the lonely boy playing on the beach in Walcot. The bitter break-up of Aldiss’s first marriage is revealed to be the inspiration behind the post-apocalyptic Greybeard, in which a nuclear accident results in a world without children. Exile is a recurring theme throughout Aldiss’s work, and the essays shed light on the ways in which he identified with this theme and constructed elaborate metaphors informed by it. Also included is Aldiss’s introduction to H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds and an imagined conversation with English novelist Thomas Hardy.
For the many fans of Aldiss’s weird and wonderful work, An Exile on Planet Earth offers a look at the man behind the books and short stories, including new insights into the events that fueled his creative talent, as well as reflections on his place in the genre and the cultural significance of science fiction as a whole.

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter