Hobnob Press

Biography ~ new for 2022

‘He Went About doing Good’ by David Elder

The life of Dr Edward Thomas Wilson of Cheltenham has never before been told. Overshadowed both by his son, the Antarctic explorer who perished with Captain Scott at the South Pole, and his brother, renowned for his heroic attempt to rescue General Gordon at Khartoum, his story is intriguingly complex. A municipal pioneer of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, he instigated modern medical practices, such as isolation fever hospitals, district nursing and clean drinking water. A supporter of science and art he opened the museum which now bears his family’s name, and promoted libraries and the local School of Art. A founder of the local camera club (the sixth oldest in the country) he pioneered photomicrography as an amateurs’ pursuit, and contributed to numerous associations, not least as President of the Cheltenham Natural Science Society. ‘No man has done so much as he to stimulate and promote the intellectual life of the town’ proclaimed one of his obituaries in 1918, while the epitaph on his gravestone reads simply, ‘He went about doing good’. Drawing on previously unpublished material and sources, this is the first in-depth biography of one of life’s ‘quiet’ heroes. January 2022, xiv, 276pp, illustrated (some colour) paperback, £15.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-25-3.


Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke: an Elizabethan Writer and her World by Julia Allen and Christine Bennett

The authors take a fresh approach to the telling of Mary Sidney's fascinating story. She was a remarkable woman who spent a significant part of her life at Wilton House. Married at the age of fifteen to one of England's richest men, she was close to Queen Elizabeth I. As she lived at a time of political and religious change, her story is told against that background. The untimely death of her beloved brother, the courtier and poet, Sir Philip Sidney, altered the course of her life. Mary Sidney became a trend-setter, forging a pathway for women writers: a talented poet, a skilful translator and editor and an influential patron of the arts. She wrote a version of Antony and Cleopatra. Her metrical psalms inspired poets, including a distant relative, George Herbert. Her legacy is traced to the wider world and the poetry of New England. Closer to home her relationship to key figures of the day is explored: James I, William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser, to name a few. Mary Sidney Herbert's contribution to literature has never been sufficiently acknowledged but this book redresses that neglect and offers an engaging insight into an influential woman's life. March 2022, x, 189pp, illustrated paperback, £12.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-32-1.

Biography ~  2021 titles

Mr & Mrs Lockwood Kipling, from the Punjab to Tisbury, by Christina Richard

Illustrated biography of Rudyard Kipling's parents. John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Macdonald Kipling were both born into strict Wesleyan Methodist families, but their similar interests, loving and successful marriage brought them exciting experiences in India, artistic recognition and membership of the Pre-Raphaelite group at the heart of late-Victorian culture. Their son became the most popular and famous poet and writer in the British Empire. Together John and Alice faced the social niceties of life in the Raj, travel and spartan living conditions. They adapted to the difficulties of colonial life, made the most of every opportunity and eventually achieved a peaceful, comfortable community-based retirement in Tisbury in south Wiltshire. This biography of two remarkable individuals is an affectionate look at a happy, adventurous marriage, a challenging family life and long and loving friendships. September 2021, viii, 250pp, colour illustrated paperback, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-07-9.


A Swindon Radical: Life between the Wars with George Ewart Hobbs, edited by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter

Welcome to a book that was never intended. After all, when A Swindon Wordsmith was published in 2019, highlighting the life and works of railwayman and parttime writer George Ewart Hobbs, the authors were satisfied that it achieved both of their main aims: showcasing work by someone who had undeservedly been forgotten since his death in 1946, but also opening a fascinating window on Swindon in times gone by. However, the surprise discovery of more works by George made it necessary to produce a second volume, and this book therefore samples some of the articles he wrote and published in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly in the Swindon Advertiser. Like its predecessor, this new book covers a wide range of George's interests, including religion, philosophy, astronomy, spiritualism, engineering and more. And as he came to terms with a changing world at home, and as the world spiralled towards the second declaration of global war in his lifetime, it chronicles the views of an increasingly radical thinker, who was always ahead of his time. Along with a simultaneously published companion book, A Visit to Venus (George's 1927 science fiction tale), A Swindon Radical completes the story of this fascinating wordsmith and free-thinker. Published in association with Swindon Heritage. September 2021, 427pp, illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-21-5.

Biography ~ 2018-2020 titles

Crusader with Compassion: Dr Walter Hadwen, Gloucester GP, 1854-1932, by Michael Till

Walter Hadwen (1854-1932) moved to Gloucester in 1896 as a family doctor at the request of the local population, to advise them following a disastrous smallpox epidemic. He engendered great loyalty from his patients and community. He fought for improvements in local housing conditions and schools. His views and popularity caused antipathy among his medical colleagues. He served his patients with understanding and sympathy but his enemies were intent on challenging his opinions. An opportunity arose to confront publicly his clinical judgement in court. He stood by his sincerely held principles which would not be shaken. His influence as an antivivisectionist and antivaccinationist were felt world-wide. He was a man of passion and conviction and, as a gifted orator, was able to convince the listener that his views were irrefutable. Michael Till was until retirement himself a GP working in the practice which continued after Hadwen’s death, and bears his name. December 2019, 192pp, ill. (some colour) paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-78-5 (also available as a hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-79-2).


A Swindon Wordsmith: the Life, Times and Works of George Ewart Hobbs, by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter

So-called ‘ordinary’ working towns sometimes hide their lights under bushels, but this book aims to put the record straight, to some extent – by paying tribute to one of Swindon’s forgotten wordsmiths. George Ewart Hobbs deserves to be remembered alongside fellow Swindon writers Alfred Williams and Richard Jefferies, particularly as his works tell us so much about the times through which he lived (1883-1946). Despite working full-time, for more than half a century, as a Great Western Railway engineer, George was a prolific writer, most of his works commissioned as weekly columns in Swindon’s local paper, the Advertiser. For the first time, this book republishes a sample of his works, including articles about many of the subjects that fascinated him – religion, philosophy, astronomy, spiritualism, engineering and more. But it also includes poetry, eyewitness reports on remarkable events of the day, pioneering comic sketches and even science fiction stories. As well as this literary legacy, George Ewart Hobbs’s vivid writing provides us with a unique and brilliantly observed insight into everyday and so-called ‘ordinary’ life in Swindon, a century ago. December 2019, 426pp, ill. paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-76-1 (also available as a hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-77-8).

Sidney Herbert: Too Short a Life, by R. E. Foster

Christian philanthropist and patron of Florence Nightingale, Sidney Herbert was hailed in his own times as a statesman, administrative reformer and co-founder of the modern Liberal party. Strangely neglected since his death, this biography brilliantly recaptures, through its subject, some of the many paradoxes of Victorian Britain. At once both Irish landlord and ‘one of the most worthy Wiltshiremen who ever lived’, arguably only fatal illness deprived Sidney Herbert of the keys to Downing Street. March 2019, 528pp, illustrated paperback, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-69-3 (also available as a jacketed hardback, £25, ISBN 978-1-906978-70-9).

The Turbulent Quaker of Shaftesbury, John Rutter (1796-1851), by John Stuttard

Rutter was a man of many talents and achievements, a polymath who lived in Shaftesbury at a time of great change in our society. He distinguished himself – and stirred up the local community – in various ways, as author, printer, publisher, social and political reformer, public servant, philanthropist and lawyer. Central to his philosophy was his Quaker belief, and this gives the book its title. Far more than just a biography, this penetrating and revealing study holds up a mirror to politics, society and religion in a small country town, meticulously researched and drawing frequently on original sources never before seen in print. November 2018, xii, 233 pages, illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-64-8 (also available casebound, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-63-1).

The Grotto Makers: Joseph and Josiah Lane of Tisbury, by Christina Richard

This is the story of two stonemasons from a remote Wiltshire village, father and son, whose lives stretched across the Georgian period, from 1717 to 1833. They became grotto builders, men of artistic genius, acknowledged experts in their speciality, but the sort of ordinary craftsmen whose achievements are not normally recorded in the official pages of history.  They were responsible for many of the mysterious, decorative, thrilling grottoes which appeared during the 18th century in English landscape gardens. From Stourhead to Fonthill, Wycombe Abbey, Wimborne St Giles, Bowood, Bowden Park, Painshill and Oatlands Park, Claremont, Castle Hill, Ascot Place, Belcombe and Norbiton House, Joseph and Josiah constructed profusely decorated brick, timber and limestone caverns, tunnels, bath houses, gambling dens and cascades. Christina Richard has pieced together the story of the lives and work of Joseph and Josiah, and has enhanced her account with imaginative descriptions of village and family life at the time for people of their station. The result is an affectionate and revealing portrait of these two extraordinary men, who contributed so much to the elegance of England’s wonderful 18th century gardens. October 2018, 200 pages, fully illustrated in colour, paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-54-9.

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.

A West Country Homecoming, by John Payne

The author, a native of Bath (Somerset) and a lecturer, historian and biographer, explores the possibilities of writing history backwards from the present into the past. Like the author's own family, this book is firmly rooted in North Somerset, Bath and West Wiltshire. Part memoir, part family history, part social history, this book explores not just what we know but also the many silences and omissions which dot our own personal histories and those of our families and communities. Stories, some sad, some happy, some funny, come thick and fast throughout the pages and are illustrated with over one hundred photographs from family albums and a wide variety of other sources. Ten chapters observe the history of his extended family from various perspectives, including work, education, health, housing and religion.

October 2020, 220pp, colour ill, paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-93-8.

Sir George Dowty, In His Own Words

Sir George Dowty (1901-1975) was a noted inventor and businessman, who pioneered many components used in the aviation industry before, during, and after the Second World War, and founded a string of companies which bore his name. He was a major employer in the Cheltenham and Tewkesbury area of Gloucestershire (as his successor companies still are), a prominent and respected figure in the world of engineering, and a generous supporter of causes in Gloucestershire and elsewhere. His typescript autobiography, dictated shortly before his death, was discovered recently by his son, and is now published for the first time. It offers a unique insight into the drive and enthusiasm of an exceptional man, and of the fledgling aircraft industry of which he played a major part.

December 2020, 158pp, ill. paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-94-5; also jacketed casebound, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-95-2

Ron Swore, by Norman Beale

This book blends biography with military and social history. But it is also a tribute, driven by gratitude. If the story had ended differently the author would never have existed. After Dr Norman Beale retired, he took up family history. For some years he managed to backtrack only one generation – there was so much to discover about his late father, Ron.

            Ron Swore begins with a teenager taking an oath to serve ‘king and country’ in the British Army. It ends a decade later, in 1945; a young man having lost his youth to battle trauma, cruelty and slavery. Such was ‘Ron’s war’.  His unit, the 2nd ‘Glosters’, had been part of the forgotten Dunkirk rearguard, sacrificed to allow more than 300,000 other Allied soldiers to be evacuated from France and to fight another day.

            Ron survived five years as a prisoner of war, calling on stoicism and survival instinct and saved from starvation by the International Red Cross. When he escaped – from a death march – he and a comrade were secreted and supported by a Czech family who showed incredible courage and humanity.

            Eventually, back in England, he did as so many of his generation – he promptly closed this chapter of his life. There would be no reminiscences, no reunions and, if possible, no recollections. It was all too painful. Putting the lid down and sitting on it was the only therapy for what we now call ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’. This made the story a difficult salvage exercise - for the author, but hopefully not for the reader.

December 2020, 146pp, illustrated paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-97-6

Biography ~ older titles

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.

A Grand Gossip: the Bletchley Park Diary of Basil Cottle, 1943-45

This is a contemporary diary from Bletchley Park, kept by a man for whom conversation was the essential oil of daily life, both inside and outside the office. Basil Cottle arrived at Bletchley Park in September 1943, after medical discharge from the Army, and stayed on after VE day to work on Albanian, before a long career at the University of Bristol. He records amusing scraps of conversation, arguments won and lost, lunch-time diversions, and a host of detail about getting by in wartime conditions. Cottle, a gifted illustrator, took great delight in drawing fantasy birds for BP colleagues. The book reproduces many of these, and their accompanying comic verses. Produced in association with Bletchley Park. August 2017, 169 pages, illustrated paperback, £11.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-44-0. (Also available casebound in printed boards, ISBN 978-1-906978-45-7, price on application)

The Unfortunate Captain Peirce and the Wreck of the Halsewell, East Indiaman, 1786: a Life and Death in the Maritime Service of the East India Company, by Philip Browne.
It was a time of foreign wars, financial crisis, corruption, cronyism and a class system that stifled social mobility. Yet, before that disastrous night in 1786, Captain Richard Peirce enjoyed only good fortune in the maritime service of the East India Company. In a long and successful career, he sailed to the East Indies seven times, encountering military heroes, corrupt ‘nabobs’, artists, map-makers and scoundrels. Then, on a tempestuous January night, his ship, the Halsewell, struck rocks on the Dorset coast. In one of the most dramatic shipwrecks of the eighteenth century, the ‘unfortunate Captain Peirce’ lost his ship, his daughters, his fortune and his own life. This book traces his career to a tragic conclusion that shocked and upset the nation. Two centuries later, his story still has the power to move us. November 2015, 365 pages, illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-32-7. (Also available as a Kindle download: ISBN 978-1-906978-18-1)

Inheriting the Earth: the Long Family’s 500 year Reign in Wiltshire, by Cheryl Nicol.

One of the most powerful dynasties in England, the Long family of Wiltshire derived enormous power and prestige from land ownership, and maintained their position as the county’s administrative and political backbone for five centuries. This authoritative study explores the forces that shaped and ultimately vanquished a once powerful dynasty. 2016, 444pp illustrated paperback, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-37-2.

The Arundells of Wardour: . . . from Cornwall to Colditz, by Barry Williamson.

Few West-Country families can have had so turbulent a history as the Arundells, whose seat was Wardour Castle in south Wiltshire. Tudor opulence and military catastrophe in the Civil War were followed by the building of the largest Georgian mansion in Wiltshire and a spectacular bankruptcy. The last Lord Arundell died in 1944 on his return from German prison camps. Throughout the centuries the Arundells were steadfast in their loyalty to the Catholic faith. Barry Williamson, a history teacher, spent his childhood in a village on the edge of the Wardour estate, and so began a lifelong interest in the Arundells. With profound historical insight and an eloquent narrative style he has produced this fascinating and definitive account of a remarkable family through five centuries. May 2011, 229 x 152mm, viii, 242 pages, illustrated paperback, £12.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-12-9.

Swimming without Mangoes, by David R. Bradshaw.
Second volume of memoirs by Montserrat-born author who grew up in Swindon during the 1960s and 1970s, and went on to become a successful lawyer and law lecturer. This volume describes his arrival at the age of 8 in the Wiltshire railways town, how he survived ('swam for his life') in unfamiliar surroundings, and how he flourished in his studies, sports and friendships at St Joseph's School. April 2013, 292 pages, illustrations, paperback, £12.95. ISBN 978-1-906978-29-7.

The Life and Letters of William Lisle Bowles, Poet and Parson, 1762-1850, by Robert Moody.

This is the first full-length biography of William Lisle Bowles, considered by many to be the father of the Romantic poets who flourished at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. His Fourteen Sonnets, Elegiac and Descriptive, written during a Tour was published in1789 and the subsequent editions were read with delight by Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb and Southey who acknowledged Bowles’s influence on their own poetry. As the incumbent of Bremhill in Wiltshire, his friendship with the Marquis of Lansdowne at nearby Bowood brought him into contact with many of the celebrities of the day, including the Irish poet Thomas Moore, whose affectionate and frank references to Bowles in his letters and journals enable the reader to obtain a rare insight into his friend’s character. Bowles’s edition of the works of Alexander Pope resulted in a war of words with Byron and others in the literary world, and his many other publications reveal the depth of his knowledge and talents. Further, the account of his day-to-day activities as a country clergyman and magistrate, and later as a canon residentiary of Salisbury Cathedral, tells much of the character of this kindly, and often eccentric, Wiltshire parson. August 2009, 235 x 155mm, x, 407 pages, illustrated paperback, £17.50, ISBN 978-1-906978-02-0.

Collecting the American West: the Rise and Fall of William Blackmore, by Anthony Hamber.

William Blackmore (1827-1878) remain a little known millionaire mid-Victorian polymath. He was a successful lawyer based in Liverpool and an international financier involved in numerous American enterprises. He established an important ethnographic museum in his home town of Salisbury; commissioned an influential set of watercolours of the Yellowstone region by the noted American painter Thomas Moran (1837-1926); and his photographic collection documenting North American ‘Indians’ was copied to form the basis of the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Yet Blackmore’s legacy was to be comparatively limited. He went bankrupt and committed suicide in 1878, and his papers and other materials lay apparently unused for almost half a century.  This is the first biography to cover the wide gamut of Blackmore’s professional and private interests and the significance and impact of his wide ranging achievements. December 2010, 229 x 152mm, 310 pages (approx.), illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-10-5.

Mr Benett of Wiltshire: the life of a county Member of Parliament, 1773-1852, by Robert Moody.

The first full-length biography of John Benett, a statesman who steered a fiercely independent course through all the great issues of his day, before and after reform. More than a match for his political opponents Cobbett and Hunt, he entered Parliament after two violently fought campaigns, and was injured during the machine-breaking riots in 1830. At home in Wiltshire he pioneered agricultural reform, busying himself on his own estate, Pythouse near Tisbury, and with local organizations of every kind. This painstaking and sympathetic biography offers a long-needed reassessment of an extraordinary man – architect, writer, practical farmer and politician. 2005, 356 pages, illustrations, paperback, £14.95, ISBN 0-946418-40-3.

Traumas and Tanks: a Child's War, written and illustrated by Tony Garnett.

As the bombs start to fall over southern England the Mason family try on their gas-masks and take to the air-raid shelter. Wartime life in Salisbury becomes one of shortages, 'make do and mend', and tedious restrictions. When their father leaves for service overseas Tim embarks on a series of adventures, mishaps and near escapes with his brother and friends. The dangers and tragedies of war, followed by the celebration of peace, are vividly portrayed through the eyes of an impressionable young teenager in this beautifully illustrated account of momentous times, based on the author's own experience. November 2009. 244 x 170mm, 132pp, ills, paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-09-9.

Echoes of Ingen Housz: the long lost story of the genius who rescued the Habsburgs from smallpox and became the father of photosynthesis, by Norman and Elaine Beale.

Jan Ingen Housz (1730–1799) was a remarkable physician and scientist who lived in a circle of very famous names and through tempestuous times. His reputation has slid into obscurity and deserves new prominence, especially his discovery of the primacy of light in photosynthesis. ‘Echoes is an outstanding work of biography; science with the nasty bits left in . . . every sentence nursed to perfection . . . I couldn’t put it down.’ (From the book’s foreword by David Bellamy.) ‘This is a remarkable book . . . one in which you should immerse your-self and enter a period of history during which our understanding of life on earth took a huge leap forward . . . I thought that this type of comprehensive scholarship had died.’ (Timothy Walker, presenter of the BBC series, ‘Botany: A Blooming History’, and Director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden.) August 2011, 632 pages, illustrations, £25.00. ISBN 978-1-906978-14-3.

An Exceptional Woman: the writings of Heather Tanner, selected and introduced by Rosemary Devonald.

Heather Tanner (1903 – 1993) is best known as the author of four exquisite books about Wiltshire and its countryside, products of the lifelong collaboration with her husband, the etcher and artist Robin Tanner. Throughout her life she wrote poems, letters, essays and dialogues, which reveal the depth of her understanding of rural life, her benign humour and her mastery of language. This selection, made and introduced by her friend Rosemary Devonald, draws on largely unpublished material which she collected after Heather’s death. To her many friends, and those to whom her published work is known and appreciated, this collection will be an irresistible memento. To those unfamiliar with the name of Heather Tanner her writing will come as a delightful discovery – the work and life of an exceptional woman. September 2006, 154-page hardback, with about 25 illustrations (mostly by Robin Tanner), price £14.50, ISBN 0-946418-47-0

Foot Loose in South Wiltshire, by Jane Holmes,

is a diary kept by a young woman growing to maturity through the Second World War and after – a young woman fascinated by nature and the countryside, and embarking with enthusiasm on a farming career. Her explorations, initially from her home at Bemerton, take Jane Holmes all over the Salisbury area, south Wiltshire and beyond. In his Foreword, Patrick Holden describes Foot Loose as: ‘a poignant and heartfelt reminder of what once was, a countryside teeming with beautiful birds and animals in a natural and healthy habitat. Where many country-folk, particularly those whose work brought them into contact with the soil, had an innocence and gentleness of spirit about them that has been lost to our detriment in the intervening years. It is an important and valuable document to remind us of what we have lost through our mistreatment of the Earth and our failure to understand the interconnectedness of all life forms.’ 240 x 170mm, 132pp, ills, paperback, 978-0-946418-71-8, £7.95, December 2007.

Joseph Priestley in Calne, by Norman Beale.

Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen, one of the most significant advances in the history of Chemistry. The breakthrough came during the seven most productive years of his life, while he was living in Wiltshire, at Calne and Bowood. Priestley’s personality and family life have remained something of a mystery. Now, Dr. Norman Beale, retired Calne GP, tells the full story of Priestley in Calne,how it was that he came to Wiltshire, what he then did (not just the science): the effects on his family life; why he had to leave under a cloud and the surprising extent of the legacy he left. At last it is possible to fully appreciate an important eighteenth-century figure in science, religion and politics who turns out to be as fickle and fallible as the rest of us. November 2008, 96 pages, illustrated, paperback, £7.95, ISBN 978-0-946418-81-7.

Beyond a Cottage Window, by Mary Roberts.

The author has lived in Rockley, a small hamlet on the Marlborough Downs, for over 40 years and amassed a huge store of rural wisdom and observation about wildlife, cottage gardening and the Wiltshire countryside. This beautifully produced 96-page paperback, illustrated by Michael Charlton, is her perceptive celebration, through the year, of ‘all things wise and wonderful’. 2003, £5.95, ISBN 0-946418-18-7.

From Ceylon to Corsham, by Commander Pat Hoare, RN. The son of a tea planter, Pat Hoare was born in 1917 and determined on a naval career from the very early age of eight. After Dartmouth College and a training ship he became a Midshipman in the Royal Navy in 1935 and a Lieutenant after war broke out in 1939. A skilled navigator, his naval career took him all over the world, to the South Atlantic, Norway, the Sicily and Normandy invasions and Korea, as well as shorebound postings at H.M.S. Dryad near Portsmouth and H.M.S. Royal Arthur in Corsham. He rose to the rank of Commander in 1950, had command of his own ship in the Falkland Islands and retired from the Navy in 1960. Commander Hoare’s witty and entertaining memoir, of naval and social adventures on board ship and in port, continues through his subsequent civilian career, when living near Corsham, and ends with the death in 1974 of his beloved wife, Peggy, whom he had married in 1941. December 2008, 206pp, illustrations, paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-0-946418-82-4.

Bath Buns and Chocolate Olivers: A Bath childhood, by Rosamund Willoughby.

Born in Bath in 1912, the author spent her childhood and adolescence there, in the comfortable homes of her grandparents. Her absorbing memories of wartime and the 1920s depict a city and society vastly different from today, yet played out within street scenes and buildings which are still instantly familiar. 2004, 80 pages, £7.95, ISBN 0-946418-26-8.

The Basingstoke Admiral: a life of James Lancaster, by Michael Franks.

Historical biography of Sir James Lancaster, a ‘forgotten’ Elizabethan international merchant and naval commander who was celebrated in his own day but has been neglected by historians. Best remembered as the commander of the first fleet of the East India Company (1601-3) Lancaster had a varied career, touching many aspects of Elizabethan life, in rural north Hampshire, in London and overseas. Using new material based on archive research and re-working of the published sources, Franks argues the case for recognising Lancaster as one of the earliest ‘global traders’. Foreword by Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History at King’s College, London. November 2006, 230-page paperback, 55 illustrations, price £14.95, ISBN 0-946418-59-5

Coming of Age in Anna Valley, by Mary Pierce.

As a small child (7 in 1938) in a small Hampshire village (near Andover) Mary Pierce grew up in a big world through a big war. Sensitive-ly told and delicately illustrated, this is her account of coming of age in wartime and coming to terms with a grown-up world. 2004, 157-page paperback, £6.95, ISBN 0-946418-23-3.

 Walking on Wheels, by Jill Brown.

Daughter of a bishop, the author’s promising career as a physiotherapist was cut short by a rare form of muscular dystrophy; but, accompanied by her assistance dog, she has become a familiar figure around Salisbury supporting numerous cultural and welfare organisations. This is her story. December 2011, 192 pages, illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-25-9.

Figures in a Wiltshire Scene, by Ken Watts,

reveals the author’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Wiltshire’s associations with literary figures and other famous men and women, as well as his profound love of his native county. A massive work, the culmination of many years’ meticulous research, it covers every part of Wiltshire, and every period of history, from the Roman emperor Vespasian, to the 20th-century etcher Robin Tanner and his wife Heather. Ken’s perceptive and appreciative portraits of his subjects in their local setting will make you explore Wiltshire in a completely new light. A handsome 288-page hardback, copiously illustrated and fully indexed, 2002, price £20.00, ISBN 0-946418-11-X; or in paperback, 2005, £9.95, ISBN 0-946418-34-9.

In the Shadow of Salisbury Spire: Recollections of Salisbury Cathedral Choristers and their School (1826-1950), edited by Peter L Smith.

This book of memories spans 125 years in the lives of choristers and others closely involved in the music of Salisbury Cathedral. Recalled are not only daily life in the cathedral and school, but also events that made life rather more exciting. Stories abound of the bishop tobogganing on Harnham Hill; hair-raising Guy Fawkes’ Night fireworks mayhem in Salisbury market place; ferrying a piano precariously up the river on a wooden punt; and ghostly apparitions in the boarding house. These, together with the more serene moments of life spent in close contact with that glorious cathedral; or astute and sometimes acerbic observations on the eccentricities of teachers and clergy alike; or meeting great musicians or composers in the daily round of prayer and music; all have been collected and presented by the school’s honorary archivist. June 2011, 356 pages, illustrations, £14.95. ISBN 978-1-906978-17-4.

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