Thursday, 15 March 2012

Not Strictly For the Birds and Some Books On The Go

In between the work on Volume II of the Micheal and Elizabeth Feller Collection (which has four times as many items as we have had in a book before!), answering around 200 emails a day (I am sorry you sometimes don't have the fast response I would love to give you), I do sometimes find time to poke my nose in a book. Currently I have 4 on the go - a bit like needlework projects. I am really enjoying Pamela Horn's book on The Victorian and Edwardian Schoolchild which is a very valuable insight into the thinking behind curricula for girls and boys. And much more about the lives of children. Some facts that amazed me: in 1870, 1 out of 3 of the population of England and Wales was under 14 years old; a half of all deaths were in children aged under 5. And the old photographs remind us that it wasn't just girls that had to stick to their knitting and stitching. Here you can see some boys from Liverpool (around 1914) being taught how to stitch so they could repair thir clothes. Note that one of the boys has no shoes or socks.
And from the same era, some little boys learning to knit - and it looks like it is engaging them.
It is an excellent book and I do commend it.
This book was a gift and I am really enjoying reading about the detective work that started with the hunch that this fabulous image was not the work of a 19th century German romantic plagiarist as it was once judged. That hunch led to the work being re-evaluated as almost certainly by Leonardi Da Vinci, and almost certainly, again, as being a portrait of one of the Sforza princesses from 15th century Milan, which possible started off life as the frontespiece to poem celebrating her betrothal. A thrilling read.
I am struggling a bit with this book - there are interesting facts tumbled about in here, which is largely what keeps me dipping back. However, the writing lacks the clarity I would have appreciated. But I mention it, since it is an insight into an important century in London't history and may interest other tenacious readers.
This book about Scapa Flow in the Orkneys, which is the war time harbour of the British Fleet, is wonderful - because it is very much a well-linked series of individual testimonies, and powerfully makes the case that the telling of individual stories add light and depth and movement to a colossal picture. And it makes me think we should do something about putting together testimonies and remembrances of stitching - I think we could set up a dedicated blog to just that - what do you think? We could call it A Gathering of Threads - or something like that?


  1. My mom grew up very poor in London (she was born in 1924) and remembers having no shoes in the summertime. She made sandals with cardboard soles and knitted tops. She was taught to knit in school and loved it!

    The blog is a wonderful idea Jaqueline!! I remember reading that a little girl stitched her sampler and 'hated every stitch'. Some others took so much care and stitched more than one, so they must have enjoyed it, at least a little. It would be lovely to have all those remembrances in one place!

    You are making me very anxious to get the new book in my hands. Any idea of a publishing date?

  2. I'd love to read the Scapa Flow book--am a reader of lots of WW II history books. I will see if my library can get it through inter-library loan.

    I haven't really stitched anything more meaningful than exchange pieces so far, so I don't have any stories. I'm sure there are stitchers who do, though.

  3. Trillium - if you would like the book on Scapa Flow - just click the flying angel to email me your address and I'll send you the book.

  4. Publishing date for the new book will be around September. I don't think I can finish this one for July....

  5. NOVA did a segment on the Da Vinci painting that was pretty interesting. It's truly amazing what they can figure out. You can watch the episode online on PBS's website or buy it on DVD from them. Just google NOVA Mystery of a Masterpiece.