This may be a meandering mess as my head is clogged, and my ears are ringing just a little bit, but I am not sick enough to go to bed with no guilt.
One of my fellow travelers last week was showing me the catalogue for a charming publisher and I realized at once that the universe was hitting me over the head as this was the second time it had presented me with this jewel. Today, as I was clearing my desk of tissue and tea cups, my hands fell upon a page ripped from a current magazine and I had to admit that my cotton-headedness has nothing to do with my cold.
Persephone Books is a British publisher specializing in books by women that had previously been out of print. “Middlebrow” as they describe it. Well written, good stories, though probably not “literature.” The covers are the chicest dove grey. And then there are the end papers.
This is from the book at the top of my list, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The end papers are described as follows, “The design of this Warner silk, velvet and terry material, exported to the USA during the early 1920s, was derived from a French fabric based on medieval tapestries: two birds are facing each other and away from each other – as in marriage, they are both coupled and confrontational.” These are the type of people you want to support, aren’t they? Rather than the large on-line retailers who make you feel your books fall with a flat, hard “thunk” when they hit your shopping cart.
Not the type of girl to choose a book on end papers alone, still Good Things in England by Florence White caught my eye for just that. (Intrigued by the name I lost interest when I realized it is about cooking.) These end papers are based on a fabric designed by Duncan Grant.
Duncan Grant of Bloomsbury fame. Coincidentally, I’ve just begun a reading run on the Bloomsberries since my book club chose Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light. I’ve finished Bloomsbury Recalled by Quentin Bell, which gives a nice overview of the cast of characters, and have just begun Virginia Woolf, a Biography, also by Bell.
After admiring the end paper I went on a hunt to see if the fabrics are still in production. Charleston was something of a country outpost for the group and the home’s site has a nice selection of original fabrics from the house under the heading, “Learning.” Indeed.
What little I knew of Bloomsbury did not seem to fit these designs, though I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Probably because of what little I knew.
Charleston does offer reprints on some of Grant’s original designs.
Including “Grapes,” which may make me like gray. Which would be a good thing as it has been the theme of January and February around here.
No persuasion necessary to like the glimpses of the house that the site provides.
And this detail of Grant’s door, a photograph by Tony Tree, makes me want to head off round the house with my paint brush immediately.
Immediately after this cold has gone. For daily-ish updates from Persephone Books check their blog here.
Top three images via Persephone Books, the remainder from the Charleston website.