Saturday 2 June 2007

Mark This...

The Carbon Copy informs me that he couldn't comment on my previous post; sorry about that, I'm sure it will all fall into place soon. Otherwise, any burning comments can be emailed to me, and I will try and put them up. I'm sure no-one has anything that exciting to say... but surprise me.

Today I'm going to take a leap into the torrents of literary scholasticism that are... bookmarks. Now, you don't get that in the Times Literary Supplement. A few years ago, I decided to start using art-postcards for bookmarks, rather than scraps or paper or (Heaven forefend) folding down the page in question - so much nicer to see something from a gallery, rather than the 'phone number you jotted down next to a doodle of the Eiffel Tower. If I were feeling sophisticated, I might refer to bookmarks as independent, non-contingent paratextual elements. But I shan't.

So I now put a bit of thought into the type of bookmark used. A new book can't have a very old postcard/bookmark - nor vice versa. Afterwords : Letters on the Death of Virginia Woolf, a collection of the letters sent to Leonard Woolf, which I'm currently reading, has a Virginia Woolf postcard. I thought I'd share the one I use for older, tattier books:This is the sort of thing I find fascinating - come back tomorrow if you are of less sentimental temperament. I found this postcard of Thomas Hardy's cottage in a London postcard shop, and loved it. The Clan went to Hardy's cottage a few years ago, and it is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen - far, far more flowers and foliage than in the postcard's photo, perhaps unsurprisingly, but so emblematic of all I love about the English countryside.

The postcard/bookmark itself is from around 1937, as the stamp of George VI and Wikipedia inform me, and reads:
"I am having a lovely time with Jim, Joan & Caroline who has grown since last year, & is now running about all over the place, she is so sweet. Weather not too good, but is improving. Expect to be home Aug 6th. Love Elsie P"

Postcards don't change, do they?


  1. Just checking these work for me!

  2. I agree with you about Hardy's cottage. My wife and I were just there in April, having made the walk from Dorchester through the countryside, and it was well worth the trek. Absolutely lovely, yet at the same time so small, so clearly the sort of place that would feel confining to a young man with the ambitions that Hardy had.

  3. I love old postcards too and collect ones of my birthplace, but don't use them as bookmarks. I do use a variety of gallery cards, though, or other pretty things - not bus tickets, as my husband sometimes does!! I agree that you have to choose something fitting the style or subject matter of the book.

  4. I still treasure the home-made ones given me on Mothering Sunday some years ago (although I have to confess that one or two are 'mislaid' - probably 'stuck-in-a-book'!)
    I have done a trawl through the second hand books brought to the bookstall (in my garage) and have found several interesting post cards, but none, I regret to say, with messages on them. A

  5. Entirely because its on your Top 50 list, I fell with joy on The Piano Shop on the Left Bank today, brand new in my local charity shop at £1.50, and containing a bookmark from the bookstore at the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Knew you'd be pleased!

  6. That was a lovely entry. The postcard is really wonderful. My husband and I visited Hardy's cottage 36 years ago, which seems unbelievable to me. I have a collection of postcards which my mother had, and I love looking through them and occasionally sending one out. Thanks for such a nice post.

  7. So thankful for the new title about Virginia Woolf ... and old postcards make marvellous bookmarks (tired of using the library due date card). The note on your postcard is amusingly familiar but particularly love the reference to the weather. Stiff upper lip and all that ... the weather was probably dreadful.


I've now moved to, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at