P is for Mary Ann Parker

They look pretty, don’t they? That’s what I thought when I made my bid for these reprints of famous Australian travel books. Alas, I still own most of the books I bought. The 1991 reprint of Mary Ann Parker’s A Voyage Round the World was a collaboration between Hordern House Rare Books and the AustralianContinue reading “P is for Mary Ann Parker”

O is for James O’Malley

I wasn’t exactly spoiled for choice for Os. I chose O’Malley because his book gave me a chance to lament the regrettable transparency of the internet. As you can see his book was published in Canada. I’d guess his sales in the United Kingdom amounted to precisely none. Back in the old days, before theContinue reading “O is for James O’Malley”

N is for Captain Nolan

Louis Edward Nolan (1818-1854) is now notorious as the man who sent The Light Brigade to its doom at Balaclava. He was the son of Babington Nolan, an officer of the 70th Foot, and was born in Canada where the 70th was then serving, but lived in Italy from 1829 when his father found heContinue reading “N is for Captain Nolan”

M is for Magic

There they were occupying a whole stall in the stables of a Norfolk country house, a collection of magic, five hundred books, a couple of boxes of DVDs and VHSs, several shelves of tricks and other paraphernalia. Ting a ling went the bell in my head. Management was less sure. “You don’t know the firstContinue reading “M is for Magic”

L is for Sergeant William Lawrence

There’s no reason to dispute the basic facts about William Lawrence’s life that can be found in his own autobiography. He was born in 1791 in the village of Bryant’s Piddle in Dorset (no bowdlerised Puddle for him), was apprenticed to Henry Bush, a Studland builder, didn’t care for life as an apprentice, walked toContinue reading “L is for Sergeant William Lawrence”

K is for Lord Mark Kerr

Mark Ralph George Kerr (1817-1900) was born at Newbattle Abbey in Scotland. He was the tenth child and fourth son of William Kerr 6th Marquess of Lothian by his second wife Harriet Montagu-Scott, daughter of the 3rd Duke of Buccleugh. Lord Mark set his sights on a career in the army, and purchased an ensigncyContinue reading “K is for Lord Mark Kerr”

J is for Robert Jackson MD

Robert Jackson (1750-1827) got his MD in Leyden in 1786. He had every right to be proud of his doctorate which he achieved at the age of thirty five after many vicissitudes. If you go the old Dictionary of National Biography you’ll read, “After a good schooling at Wandon and Crawford he was apprenticed forContinue reading “J is for Robert Jackson MD”

I is for International Standard Book Numbers

The photograph below is of the verso of the titlepage of a reprint of the Indian Army Department’s 1911 Instructions for Armourers. Don’t worry – that is the first and last you are going to hear about this excruciatingly unexciting book. The original was published by His Majesty’s Stationery Office. The publishers, D.P. & G.Continue reading “I is for International Standard Book Numbers”

H is for Sven Hedin

Sven Anders Hedin (1865-1952) was a Swedish geographer and travel writer who led four major expeditions into Central Asia. He was an excellent draughtsman and a more than competent photographer who illustrated his own books. The Sven Hedin Foundation says of him personally that he “still evokes many different memories and feelings” meaning you canContinue reading “H is for Sven Hedin”

G is for George Gleig

The Right Reverend George Robert Gleig (1796-1888) was the son of George Gleig who became Bishop of Brechin in 1808. Against the Bishop’s wishes he took up an ensigncy in 3rd Garrison Battalion rather than a scholarship to Baliol. In January 1813 he was appointed lieutenant in the 85th King’s Light Infantry. The portrait belowContinue reading “G is for George Gleig”