Friday, 15 April 2016

Quirky Books - British Humour

Over the past few years, I've been in many, many interesting books stores and found some 'quirky', interesting books. When we visit new places, Jo and I like to wander around and see the various shops and Jo, nicely, doesn't mind me checking out new book stores. You never know what you might find.

Punch magazine reissue, 1858
I'm dedicating this particular entry to some of the neat books I've found that feature British humour. I guess that's the best angle to take. The first book we actually found close to home. Jo and I used to periodically visit the local Auction House in Cumberland (unfortunately, the owners retired a few years back) and we did pick up nice bits of furniture and some boxes of books. We even sold a few pieces there, which made it even more interesting. But this is about books. In one of the boxes of books, I found this 1858 edition of Punch magazine, the year's summary.

1858 Punch Almanac
Punch magazine was founded in 1841 as a humour and satire magazine. It's been around for ages. I remember scanning the magazine in high school, just to check out the cartoons and to see if I actually could get the jokes. (generally not).

Back when it first was being published, it helped coin the term 'cartoon' and this edition is filled with wonderful drawings/ cartoons. The book itself, considering its age is also in excellent condition and it has pride of place on our bookshelves.

When Jo and I went over to England in 2012 to visit her family and to watch the London Olympics, we took quite a few side trips. On one occasion we visited the town of Holt and I found one of the neatest bookstores, located in a mews in the town centre. I can't remember the name, unfortunately, but it covered three floors and books were stacked everywhere. Even though it was hot and stuffy, I spent a good hour there and found a few books I'd been looking for and even one I hadn't but which attracted my eye. It was Fanny Hill's Cook Book, a humorous take off of John Cleland's erotic novel, published in 1748. The book is filled with quirky recipes and drawings; Whores d'Oeuvres like Cheesed Balls and Climax Pudding; Fish dishes such as Codpieces; Meat Dishes like The Naked Lunch, and, well, you get the idea.  :0)

On one of my visits to Russell Books in Victoria, back in 2011, I saw this book, The Terror of St. Trinian's by Ronald Searle. The St Trinian's movies were based on the drawings and stories of Ronald Searle. He took a great pleasure in creating this school for girls, quite nasty and funny girls they are.

His drawings are wonderful, as you can see and the story was always a good chuckle. The girls run amok, smoke, drink, arm themselves with knives and terrorise the teachers, but all in good fun, of course. It's one of those books that leaves you laughing and shaking your head. The Terror of St. Trinian's was originally published in 1952, with this 10th impression published in 1956.

I've since been trying to find others of the series and just recently ordered and received the first book of the St. Trinian's, Hurrah for St. Trinian's, from Hay-on-Wye Books in Hereford, UK. This book was initially published in April of 1948, with this third impression published in Jan of 1950.

The book isn't a story but, rather, a collection of Ronald Searle's cartoon drawings that had been featured in various publications throughout the UK; Lilliput, London Opinion, Men Only and Punch, etc. They feature day-to-day life and of course, the wonderful students of St. Trinian's. I will continue to hunt the other books in this series as they add a bit of spice to my library.

So there you have it, some of the quirky books you might find as you wander through those lovely book stores that you find. Keep them open by frequenting them, please.

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