Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Interesting old book find - Three Ghosts

Even though it could be said that I have no room left on my bookshelves I am always on the lookout for more books. I love reading and I like to own the physical articles so that I can read them again or sometimes even just to look at them. A nicely full bookshelf makes me feel very content. Whenever I go in a charity shop I always browse the book section, looking for both modern fiction and for anything old and interesting that takes my fancy. I realised whilst rearranging my bookshelves (again), to fit more books in (again), that I could do a series of posts on these old and interesting books. So this is the first of a few.

Front cover

Three Ghosts was published in 1947 and contains three short ghost stories. These are The Red Room by H.G. Wells ( first published in 1896), Rats by M.R. James (first published in 1929) and The Return of Imray by Rudyard Kipling (first published in 1891). I am not going to give away what the stories are about as you may want to read them yourself. If so, you can find the Red Room text here, the Rats text here and The Return of Imray text here.

When I picked up the book and turned it over I was interested to find that it was a greetings book. It is a paperback and the dust jacket folds out and then can be folded over the front cover and sealed. There is a space for the postage and then you could send it off as a gift for someone. I love this idea, how exciting it would be to receive books in this manner through the post. I have never seen this type of book before. It says inside that there are two more books in the series so I will be on the lookout for them. I have tried to find out more about greetings books and have not had any luck yet so if anybody knows anything?

The publisher is Sampson Low, a family run firm that began in 1793 and is still going today. I thought that they may have some information about greetings books on their website but unfortunately their archive is not complete due to bombing and to various changes in the firm.

The stories are illustrated by Laurence Scarfe (1914-1993). There are a number of black and white line drawings and four colour plates. The colour plates are quite dark and muted, which fits the ghost story theme. They are full of detail and I really like the style.

'The door creaked on its hinges as a second old man

'While I stood gaping, one candle at the foot of the
bed went out.'

'It was not long before he was standing by it'.

'Can they get up and move....?'

Laurence Scarfe studied at Shipley Art School and then from 1933-37 studied mural painting at the Royal College of Art. At the time this book was published he was lecturing at the Central School of Art and Design. He seems to have had a varied career, illustrating for the Radio Times, showing a mural at the Festival of Britain, decorating pottery, illustrating brochures for hotels and designing posters for the London Underground from 1939-1964. The one I like best is for the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and can be seen here.

No comments:

Post a Comment