Wednesday 14 September 2011


Do keep your blog nominations coming on yesterday's post. One thing Book Blogger Appreciation Week is showing me is how many new blogs there are! The old faithfuls - the blogs I've been reading for three or four years - feel to me a bit like we're a huddle of parents at the schoolgates. Proud parents, of course. I just hope Stuck-in-a-Book can keep up, despite steadfastly refusing to have too drastic a face-lift! I'm always a little wary asking for feedback on the general direction of my blog, because I'm so overly-sensitive about creative things, but... well, I'm not going to make this a navel-gazing post!

Instead, let's gaze at title-pages, and endpapers, and all those bits of a book which a previous owner might have scrawled on. Oddly enough, although I could never bring myself to write in a book (except in pencil) I love buying secondhand books with these inscriptions. Now and then I have vague intentions to collate all the inscriptions I have found in various books, but, of course, I haven't done anything of the kind. And most of them simply say 'To Margaret, love Elspeth' or similar - a lovely memento of an unknown friendship, but perhaps not worth noting down at length.

But I couldn't help sharing this one with you all. It's in Llewelyn Powys' A Baker's Dozen, which I read and enjoyed recently, and will write more on later. That review may well descend (or, indeed, ascend) into a paean to the countryside. For now, we won't go past the first page - on which, on the 15th July 1941, Peter (I think) wrote this:

"Sun! Sun! Sun! Oh Summer
dancing Sun! Sink slowly down into

the West. Let the hours
happy freedom be long and longer."

To Swithin on his 26th birthday, from Peter


I assumed it was a quotation, but Google brings up no results. So, unless any of you can tell me differently, I think I must assume this was Peter's own, rather lovely, little verse for the enchantingly-named Swithin. As my housemate Mel pointed out - his birthday is St. Swithin's Day. Nickname or were his parents opportunists? And was he off fighting the war?

I've found lots of inscriptions in books before, but I think this one might just be my favourite. Any wonderful examples you'd got to share?


  1. >>The old faithfuls - the blogs I've been reading for three or four years - feel to me a bit like we're a huddle of parents at the schoolgates. Proud parents, of course.

    This made me giggle hysterically.

    What a wonderful inscription! I don't usually come across books with sweet messages like that, but I did find a wonderful postcard w a photo of the Wellesley College Class of 1887 Crew team (fyi, Wellesley=women's college) and a note on the back that says "Happy Birthday!! From your 1952 Wellesly classmates, and your class crew-Diane, Nancy, Fry, Malcolm, Pat, Mardie, and Jane-" I thought it was so neat I now keep it on my dresser!

  2. I have never come across an inscription as delightful as this, but I do particularly love the old Penguins I have that give me some clues concerning their journey to my bookshelf, such as owner's names and addresses, and bookshop stamps.

    I have about 15 books all owned and signed by the same woman (and not all purchased at the same time; I guess Perth is a small place), and I can trace this woman's life and know something of her: the suburbs she lived in, the fact she never married, and the fact that she owned these Penguins for 50 or 60 years until her death, and cherished them because they are in such good condition.

  3. That one cannot be beat! How I wish I knew who this Swithin was...I can almost imagine the day.

    The most interesting (at least to me) inscription was in 'The Portable Irish Reader' I found at a thrift shop. It says 'To Mary from Helen. 1946' I like to think it was given to my gran (Mary) from her sister (Helen) whilst she was pregnant with my mother and needed something to read on her down time.

    I'm clearly delusional.

  4. What a wonderful inscription.

    I can't match it, but I do have a copy of lovely Danesbury House by Mrs Henry Wood that has a label indicating that it was a Sunday School Prize for Ernest Trevaskiss on February 7th 1905.

    And, like Karyn, I have a number of books inscribed with the same owners' names - Jim and Betty Hodge. In some its handwritten and in others they have their own bookplates.

  5. Don't change, I read book blogs for quality posts not quantity or glitz and glamour in fact that puts me off.

    How fascinating to have found this wonderful inscription.

  6. I too love book inscriptions! Right before I went on a life changing trip to Israel, I bought a photo book of Israel - right when it became a country. It was to a son from his parents - I wish I had it in front of me right now to write exactly what it said - but it basically said "You're making history! Enjoy! Your life will never be the same!"
    I felt like they were writing to me.

  7. How lovely! I get so excited when I find inscriptions in secondhand books and always end up trying to conjure up an image of the previous owners.


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