Tuesday, 13 August 2013


This book proved impossible to resist.

We had a third floor in our old cottage in Devon which was comprised of a large 3 roomed attic in the eaves. The smallest room became our study, the cats lounged on the mezzanine central room overlooking the stair rails and the largest room accidently became a library.

 It was bliss, which alas, we had to give up due to the rather crippling mortgage. For 5 years we had collected books which lined all the walls, and more than half of them had to go when we downsized. We still have far too many books, and yet .... every now and then I must buy just one more.

I really need to live here, at Hereford Castle which has this magnificent Library. Even then I am certain that I could fill it in no time at all.

My kind of room - Hereford Castle Library From Here:

This latest acquisition is a rare edition of 'Nursery Tales, Told to the Children' by Amy Steadman with illustrations by Paul Woodroffe. Published by T.C. & E.C. Jack, London/E.P. Dutton & Co., New York circa 1910. 

 This is Number 24 in the ‘Told to the Children’ series edited by Louey Chisholm.This uncommon edition of fairy tales, includes eight lovely colour plates by the British illustrator and stained-glass artist Paul Woodroffe (1875-1954).

John Russell Taylor writes of Woodroffe (in The Art Nouveau Book in Britain, 1966): “His first illustrations, closely imitative of Walter Crane, were for Ye Booke of Nursery Rhymes (1895) … with music by Joseph Moorat, a friend of [Laurence] Housman’s. He would seem to have been adopted early by the Housmans, Clemence engraving his illustrations to The Confessions of St Augustine (1900), which Laurence supplied with a title-page, and his illustrations to Laurence’s translation of Aucassin and Nicolette (1902) … Once removed from the direct Housman influence he drifted into other artistic activities …”

Nursery Tales dates from Woodroffe’s post-Housman period, the illustrations similar in style to those in his lavish colour-plate edition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, published in 1908.

I have only once seen this edition and that was many many years ago.  Despite having no space on any of our shelves I had to buy it!

As you can see this is the tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears.

We have had the best few weeks of summer. Long languid days and nights, humid rain showers, wild flowers, Bees, Butterflies, Dragonflies and Birds -  and now the garden is full of change. It seems only yesterday the lush blooms of Peony, Damask Rose, Clematis and Honeysuckle were scenting the air and filling as far as the eye could see with colour. Now the seed heads of Lavender and Poppy have appeared and the upright stems have lain down. The Tree Bumblebees have flown their nest and only a few sleepy Wasps and gentle stripey Hoverflies remain. With Autumn on the way my thoughts always turn to the woods, and the fairy tales that tell of them.

Red Riding Hood and The Wolf

Cinderella, her black cat and her Fairy Godmother
in a red cape!
I like nothing better in Autumn and Winter than curling up with the cats and a book by the fire. I have discovered that many of my most treasured stories involve the colour Red. I have always loved Little Red Riding Hood, and was thrilled and delighted when Chocolat was published and later filmed that Joanne Harris used red in her stories and it was her favourite colour. I always feel empowered with cherry red nails and lipstick. Of course there are those Ruby Slippers too! And here, how fascinating that the Fairy Godmother of Cinderella has been illustrated with a red cape.

Brunhild by George Frederic Watts
oil 1880
I'm off to London tomorrow for a wander in Kensington and a pre-Raphaelite adventure with a German friend who is visiting London. Hopefully we will see some paintings by Watts which I have not seen before. But my thoughts will be straying home as I have two cats who are each a bit below the weather. Mrs Black recently had a funny turn. She is an ex feral and a mature lady of a certain age now so each illness has to be taken seriously. She was a bit off colour (but still black!) for a few days and after a visit to the local vet hospital she seems to be improving. We think perhaps she was over ambitious in her control of the moth population. Now that she no longer needs to watch her weight as a little plumpness is nice in older cats she cannot resist a mothy tidbit. She has rallied and is now busying herself in nursing her Naughty Kitten who is very poorly indeed. She has a high temperature and is under the care of our vet who has taken blood samples and given medication. She was allowed home because she frets so if not with Mrs Black and us. But she may have to be admitted to hospital if that temperature does not go down. She is curled up in a basket by the fire now. Please keep her in your thoughts.


Joanne Harris is one of my very favourite authors, I feel a part of her stories of Vianne Rocher and her daughters . If you have not done so read her books and see Chocolat. Her own website is here:
And she post witty and informative things on Tumblr, HERE:


  1. Wishing Naughty Kitten well. So difficult to have a fur baby under the weather. I do love old childrens books ... the illustrations! Oh, My! Joanne Harris is one of my favorites also. Thank you for the links.

  2. Red is such a sensual color. I also love red nails and red lips. I"m sending lots of blessings for both of your kitties. Lots of purrs.

  3. Those illustrations are quite enchanting .
    I have beem meaning to see the movie Chocolat for some time now ( not sure how I missed it really) . Your prompt was as alluring as Johnny Depp ~ well almost ;) nvertheless Chocolat is at the top of my movie list as of today.

  4. I hope Naughty Kitten gets better soon. I have seen many old finches through to the end. I do know your concerns. I am praying for her full recovery. Love.

  5. Hope she's getting better soon! really love your book addiction, nothing is nicer than hanging around with our feline friends and enjoying some good stories!

  6. Ah now I have seen that library I can think of nothing else! I am sure I could fill it too :)

  7. Oh Naughty Kitten, please get better! And Mrs. Black too, NK will need you even more now. If you are to have an addiction, a book addiction is the one to have. I have passed this down to my son I find out as he bought an old dictionary at a flea market a week ago. My husband asked, "why?", but I knew why - to keep the books alive and loved! Lovely illustration in you latest purchase. Ann

  8. Such a charming book, and that cottage in Devon is my idea of paradise. I'm glad you still allow yourself to buy books. Hope your kitty is feeling better!

  9. Yes, dear Mrs. Black and Naughty Kitten, please do feel much better soon!
    Let's hope NK's temp soon drops.
    Herbert and Arthur

  10. I see autumn is soon coming there too.
    This book is very lovely, a treasure.
    Thanks for the heads up about Joanne Harris, I will put her on my wish list. I didn't know the story behind Chocalat it sounds very interesting.
    Miranda, thanks for dropping by today, it's always nice to have a visit from you. :)
    I'm hoping both cats will soon be much better, and little NK's temp goes down.

  11. I'm so sorry to hear of your feline woes, I'm keeping both in my thoughts.
    Love the illustrations in those gorgeous books, I think I must have had the Red Riding Hood book as a child as the illustration looks very familiar. x

  12. I'm sure Naughty Kitten is being well looked after and Mrs Black's magic will work wonders. That book looks absolutely wonderful - not just the plates but the way the stories are written - a real treasure. We have quite a collection of illustrated children's books and I'm sure one or two have a similar cover - probably from the same publisher. Hope you enjoyed the exhibition x Jane

  13. I love nursery/fairy tales! They are the best. Archetypal. Excellent. I also think it's great you once had a third-floor library.

  14. I hope you were able to enjoy your trip even though your kitties were under the weather. I always worry too when my cat starts acting unwell. I hope the naughty kitten's temperature went down and she's ok.

  15. Mrs Black and her naughty Kitten wish to say a huge thank you to everyone for sending get well wishes. (Especially to Arthur and Herbert!) Your magic worked and both are enjoying the cooler weather, curled up in their basket. Minerva x


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