Hobnob Press


Many Hobnob titles are of interest (I hope) to an academic as well as a more general and popular readership, and I try to produce books to a standard that will earn scholarly approval. But in addition I have begun a series of uniform hardback monographs of a more specialist nature, and the first four titles are described below.


Hobnob Academic Series

Roman Britain: the Frontier Province. collected papers by Mark Hassall

Studies in the history of Roman Britain based on the documentary sources. During a distinguished academic career Mark Hassall, Emeritus Reader in Roman Archaeology at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, has published extensively on Roman Britain, and this collection brings together twenty of his most significant articles, encompassing early and later military history, the frontier and the province; and including subjects such as the army, administration, towns, religion, education and trade.  It serves as a valuable and broad-ranging resource for students of the Roman province, and specifically considers the literary and epigraphic record of Britannia across four centuries. December 2017, 291 pages, illustrated, casebound, £18.00, ISBN 978-1-906978-42-6.

Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters, by William Beckford, new edition with introduction and notes by Robert J. Gemmett

William Beckford (1760-1844) a fabulously wealthy and extravagant dilettante figure, is remembered for his strange oriental Gothic novel, Vathek, and for his architectural follies, Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire and Beckford’s Tower in Bath. Biographical Memoirs, originally published in 1780, was his first book. It reveals his extensive knowledge of art as a critic and connoisseur and his satirical talent as a novelist. Through the vehicle of a satire reminiscent of Voltaire, he criticizes the excesses of schools of painting, particularly the Dutch and Flemish, to minute detail and empty virtuosity, while his extended parody of prominent biographies of artists, fostered by such writers as Vasari and Horace Walpole, becomes an incisive commentary on the history of art and art criticism to the end of the 18th century. Robert Gemmett, Professor Emeritus of English, State University of New York, is the author of numerous books and articles of Beckford’s life and works. February 2018, 120 pages, illustrations, hardback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-52-5.

Hidden Lives: the Nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey, by William Smith

Founded by King Alfred the Great in or around 888, the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary and St Edward at Shaftesbury was the wealthiest and most important nunnery of its order in England until its suppression by Henry VIII in 1539. Continuing the elitist traditions of its pre-Conquest origins, it remained largely the spiritual preserve of what today would be designated the upper and middle classes of society throughout the Middle Ages. Its abbesses, increasingly drawn from families of the local gentry by the late fourteenth century, enjoyed the same status as feudal barons with similar privileges and responsibilities, overseeing the foundation's large complement of nuns and its extensive estates mainly in Dorset and Wiltshire. This work gives a history of the abbey and its nuns from Anglo-Saxon times, with accounts of the abbesses and their manner of appointment in accordance with royal patronage and prerogative. An appendix contains a chronological list of known nuns, in particular the abbesses, with biographical information where available, from the convent's origins in the late ninth century until its closure and destruction around six hundred and fifty years later. This study has for its focus the lives and identities of the nuns themselves, rather than the abbey as a prominent and privileged royal institution.

October 2020, 160pp, casebound, £17.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-92-1.

The Grand Tour Diaries of William Guise, from Lausanne to Rome edited by Paul and Jane Butler

William Guise, later Sir William Guise, 5th Baronet of Elmore, travelled in Switzerland and Italy in 1764 in the company of Edward Gibbon, the historian. Two journals chronicling in great detail the first part of their tour, from Lausanne to Florence, Rome and other Italian cities, and the cultural sites and artefacts that they saw, have survived in the archives of Elmore Court, Gloucestershire, which was the Guise family home. Despite their historic and cultural interest, there has until now been no full transcription of these journals (totalling 83,000 words) apart from some references to them in an edition of Gibbon's diaries. As well as perceptive comments and opinions on the architecture, statues, pictures and other works of art which they saw, there are extensive references to military matters and fortifications; to the politics and governance of the towns of Northern Italy and to travel and lodging issues. The journals illustrate the serious nature of the Grand Tour as undertaken by Guise and his better known travelling companion, Edward Gibbon. March 2022, xviii, 190pp, illustrated (some colour) hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-30-7.

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