Member Blogs > Tavistock Books

  • A Panoply of Primers

    Tue, 22 Apr 2014 04:38:22 Permalink
    For centuries, children’s literature consisted almost exclusively of didactic texts designed to teach basic skills like reading and writing or to impart religious lessons. During the Middle Ages, the vast majority of these texts were still written in Latin. Hornbooks with the Lord’s Prayer and the alphabet were the most common forms of children’s literature […] Read More
  • Charles Dickens and Capital Punishment

    Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:51:42 Permalink
    On February 24, 1807, three convicted murderers were to be executed at Newgate: Owen Haggerty, John Holloway, and Elizabeth Godfrey. The fact that three people were going to be executed (and one of them a woman) was extremely unusual. The event drew a huge and rowdy crowd. The crowd reached a point of hysteria, and […] Read More
  • The California Gold Rush, Slavery, and the Civil War

    Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:58:37 Permalink
    On January 24, 1848, Swiss immigrant John Sutter found gold at his mill. The result was the largest migration in American history, along with bitter debate over the issue of slavery. California would eventually enter the Union as a free state, but not because its delegates thought slavery an abomination. Figures like Hinton R Helper, […] Read More
  • Richard Morton, Dissenting Minister Turned Legendary Physician

    Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:10:01 Permalink
    The history of medicine is rich with fascinating stories and personalities. One of these was Richard Morton, an ousted minister who turned to medicine as a second career. The source of Morton’s medical education remains somewhat mysterious, but he nevertheless managed to distinguish himself in the profession, even rising to be the physician-in-ordinary to the […] Read More
  • Famous Figures in Culinary History: Hannah Glasse, Susannah Carter, and Amelia Simmons

    Tue, 08 Apr 2014 04:21:26 Permalink
    At first, cookbooks were largely written by men. Their intended audience were the individuals who ran restaurants and the households of the wealthy. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that this trend began to shift. Perhaps the most notable cookbook of the century is Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery (1747), which Glasse wrote for […] Read More
  • Andersen's Visit with Dickens Less than a Fairy Tale

    Wed, 02 Apr 2014 03:59:43 Permalink
    Legendary children’s author Hans Christian Andersen was born on April 2, 1805. Though the Danish author published work in a number of genres, he’s best remembered for his fairy tales. Stories like “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Nightingale” are beloved by readers of all ages, all over the world. Thanks to Andersen’s authorial reputation, […] Read More
  • The Six Hoaxes of Edgar Allan Poe

    Tue, 01 Apr 2014 02:00:26 Permalink
    The origins of April Fools’ Day are unclear. Some experts suggest that when the French shifted the New Year to January to correspond with the Roman calendar, rural residents still kept celebrating with the beginning of spring, which often fell around the start of April. They came to be known as “April fools.” This theory, […] Read More
  • Select Acquisitions: In Manuscript

    Thu, 27 Mar 2014 01:34:02 Permalink
    Manuscript. “A work written by hand” informs Glaister, synonymous with “holograph.” Or, as is often abbreviated, Ms. A two-letter abbreviation that can cause the collector’s heart to flutter; the curator’s eye to gleam; the author to despair of ever finishing. Why this reaction? Is it the unique aspect inherent to the term? A printed book, […] Read More
  • A Look Back at Book Censorship

    Tue, 25 Mar 2014 11:22:23 Permalink
    On March 25, 1955, US Customs Department officials seized 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. Printed in England, the book had been deemed obscene by the US government. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who owned the publishing house and book store City Lights in San Francisco, decided to publish Howl in the autumn of 1956. He was […] Read More
  • Louisa May Alcott: Abolitionist, Suffragette, and Mercenary

    Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:09:54 Permalink
    When Louisa May Alcott published Little Women in 1868, she immediately found the fame and fortune she’d sought since childhood. The legendary author is best remembered for this and other children’s books, but her true authorial passion was for writing cheap thrillers. Unbeknownst to most of her adoring readers, Alcott undertook her now classic novels […] Read More
  • Thomas Dorr's Treasonous Stand for Voting Rights

    Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:26:44 Permalink
    The Rhode Island First Light Infantry Company was formed in 1818 as a state militia company based in Providence. Affiliated with the Second Regiment of the Rhode Island militia, it saw no active duty. Indeed, for the majority of its history the company’s activities were more like those of a social club than of a […] Read More
  • Charles Dickens the Copyright Confederate

    Thu, 13 Mar 2014 09:26:57 Permalink
    In 1854, Sigmund H Goetzel arrived in Mobile, Alabama and immediately got to work setting up a bookstore. A German immigrant who’d been naturalized as a US citizen, Goetzel was intent to establish himself as a prominent member of the city and a vital member of the publishing community. During the Civil War, Goetzel’s publishing […] Read More
  • A Collection of Confederate Literature

    Tue, 11 Mar 2014 04:11:17 Permalink
    On March 11, 1861, delegates from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas gathered in Montgomery, Alabama. Their purpose: to ratify the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. The document was–not unsurprisingly–similar to the US Constitution, even using some of the same language. But the Confederate Constitution gave the states much more autonomy […] Read More
  • Preserving Antiquarian Photographs and Photo Albums

    Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:54:39 Permalink
    Collectors of rare and antiquarian books are well aware that they must take specific measures to preserve and protect their collections. Condition directly impacts value, but perhaps more importantly, condition dictates how intimately you can experience the items in your collection; items that have deteriorated cannot be handled and studied with the same freedom as […] Read More
  • Portrait of a Bluestocking: Hannah More

    Tue, 04 Mar 2014 02:36:59 Permalink
    Prolific author Hannah More made her way to the most prestigious literary circles of eighteenth-century England, establishing herself as a true Bluestocking. But she’s better known for her moralist writings. Hannah More was born on February 2, 1745. Her father, who’d been raised Presbyterian, had turned to the Church of England. He’d aspired to a […] Read More
  • L Frank Baum's Forgotten Foray into Theatre

    Thu, 27 Feb 2014 02:00:27 Permalink
    Though L Frank Baum is best known as the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the famed author had a rich and varied career. His accomplishments include trade magazines and newspapers, along with an oft-forgotten play based on his sequels to Wizard of Oz. Early Literary Aptitude Born on May 15, 1896, Lyman Frank […] Read More
  • The Ins and Outs of Collecting Serial Fiction for Children

    Tue, 25 Feb 2014 09:00:58 Permalink
    By the 1890′s, dime novels were all the rage. They sold millions of copies each year. Teens and young adults were hardly immune to the allure of the often sensational stories. An ambitious author, Edward Stratemeyer saw an opportunity in publishing inexpensive novels especially for children and young adults. Stratemeyer had been around the publishing […] Read More
  • A Brief History of Propaganda

    Thu, 20 Feb 2014 02:40:24 Permalink
    The term “propaganda” has come to have a negative connotation in much of the English-speaking world. But in some places, the word is neutral or even positive. Why this difference? The reasons can be traced through the word’s etymology and the way that this strategy of communication has evolved over the centuries. Roots in the […] Read More
  • The Magic Ring: A Forgotten Inspiration for JRR Tolkien

    Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:19:13 Permalink
    When The Magic Ring was published in 1813, it met with instant success. Its author, Friedrich Heinrich Karl Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué, has largely faded from popular awareness, remembered occasionally for Undine (1811). But JRR Tolkien owes an extraordinary debt to Fouqué for his portrayal of the One Ring and his pioneering work in […] Read More
  • A Look Back at Long-Lost Manuscripts

    Fri, 14 Feb 2014 09:09:26 Permalink
    On February 13, 1991, Sotheby’s made an incredible announcement: the auction house had Mark Twain’s long-lost manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The manuscript bore edits in Twain’s own hand and had scenes not included in the published novel. The discovery and subsequent authentication sparked an argument over who had rights to the manuscript. […] Read More
  • The Rare Books of Valentine's Day

    Tue, 11 Feb 2014 03:46:39 Permalink
    Valentine’s Day is upon us. If this day of hearts, candy, and warm fuzzies isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you’re not alone! Here’s a look at our three best less-than-romantic rare books for the holiday. Mark Twain’s (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance The title of this work is quite misleading; the events have no […] Read More
  • Jane Bigelow, the First Celebrity Stalker?

    Thu, 06 Feb 2014 09:07:27 Permalink
    When Charles Dickens arrived in Boston for the first time, he was greeted with incredible fanfare. He would fall in love with the city and be lured back there in 1867. By this time, Dickens had established himself as a preeminent author of the age, and he undertook a whirlwind reading tour. His fans’ adulation […] Read More
  • How the "Dickens Controversy" Changed American Publishing

    Tue, 04 Feb 2014 02:58:43 Permalink
    “Is it tolerable that besides being robbed and rifled, an author should be forced to appear in any form – in any vulgar dress – in any atrocious company – that he should have no choice of his audience – no controul [sic?] over his distorted text – and that he should be compelled to […] Read More
  • Collecting Antiquarian Diaries, Journals, and Correspondence

    Thu, 30 Jan 2014 02:03:40 Permalink
    In this age of electronic communication, the practice of keeping a journal or diary has largely fallen by the wayside, as has the art of letter writing. But in past centuries, keeping a diary was the only means of creating a written record of one’s life, the only way to look back at one’s personal […] Read More
  • Randolph Caldecott, Legend of Children's Literature

    Tue, 28 Jan 2014 02:33:42 Permalink
    Yesterday the winners of this year’s Newbery and Caldecott Awards were announced. The latter was named for Randolph Caldecott, an accomplished painter and sculptor whose various attainments are often eclipsed by his brilliant carer as an illustrator. Along with figures like Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott was truly one of the most gifted […] Read More
  • Famous Figures in Nursing (Part Two)

    Wed, 22 Jan 2014 09:40:27 Permalink
    The history of nursing is filled with illustrious figures like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton. But there are plenty of women whose contributions to this noble vocation are overlooked. Elizabeth Fry A Quaker and Christian philanthropist, Elizabeth Fry came to be known as the “angel of prisons.” At eighteen years old, Fry was moved by […] Read More
  • Famous Figures in the History of Nursing (Part Two)

    Wed, 22 Jan 2014 09:40:27 Permalink
    The history of nursing is filled with illustrious figures like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton. But there are plenty of women whose contributions to this noble vocation are overlooked. Elizabeth Fry A Quaker and Christian philanthropist, Elizabeth Fry came to be known as the “angel of prisons.” At eighteen years old, Fry was moved by […] Read More
  • AA Milne: Legendary Children's Author and Ambivalent Pacifist

    Thu, 16 Jan 2014 02:37:55 Permalink
    Alan Alexander Milne came to regret that his beloved Winnie-the-Pooh series overshadowed his other works. Yet some of his most interesting pieces were never even attributed to him. An outspoken pacifist during World War I, Milne secretly served in Britain’s M17b unit, writing pro-war propaganda. But by World War II, Milne’s views on war had […] Read More
  • Irwin and Erastus Beadle, Innovators in Publishing Popular Literature

    Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:34:49 Permalink
    Toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the story papers started giving way to a new publication format: the dime novel. Though a number of American publishers capitalized on the trend, Irwin and Erastus Beadle were likely the most successful. The fruits of their publishing company include numerous series, constituting a unique category of collecting. […] Read More
  • Fra Paolo Sarpi, Scholar, Priest, and Heretic

    Thu, 09 Jan 2014 09:37:15 Permalink
    The Counter-Reformation began with the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and lasted a full century, until the close of the Thirty Years’ War (1648). The movement sparked conflict all over Europe, challenging the very foundations of people’s daily lives. As nationalism fermented, states like Venice began to assert their autonomy–and the Catholic Church often took drastic […] Read More
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