Hobnob Press

New and Recent Books

New Titles, Late Summer 2021

Struck Off, by John Killah

A gripping comic novel of our times. Set in a busy market town, it follows the dramatic story of Eaun Wright, a well-liked trial lawyer and partner in a local solicitors’ practice, as his business, marriage, and reputation are all unexpectedly and dramatically trashed within 24 hours and he embarks on an audacious plan for revenge and redemption. Set in the immediate future, Struck Off savagely dissects our crumbling criminal justice system as well as providing incisive reflection about what is actually now happening to traditional country life, invaded as it now is by city incomers bringing new money and new values. With a mix of prescient social relevance and witty dramatic fiction, Struck Off navigates a rapidly changing landscape involving gangsters and honest police officers, daffodil fairs and a Roman orgy, acid baths and a very dead badger, before a surprising international twist at the end of this fast-moving narrative – as well as lifting the lid on what the Honorary Secretary got up to in the hot tub. . .November 2021, 310pp, paperback, £10.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-15-4

Projected Passion: the History of Cinemas in Salisbury, by Richard Nash and Frogg Moody

Projected Passion tells the story of the cinema in Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK, to the end of the twentieth century. From the showing of moving pictures at the annual charter fair, via the old city theatres, the story of cinema pioneer Albany Ward and his civilian and garrison theatres, to the golden years when Salisbury could support three state-of-the-art cinemas (with a fourth at nearby Amesbury). The decline of the film sector is covered as one-by-one these old 'picture palaces' fell away until the last of them, The Odeon, was saved from closure and redevelopment by a local campaign worthy of its own feel-good movie. Projected Passion complements the authors' previous books about the history of popular music in Salisbury, and their prose style deals with both the entertainment and potentially stodgy planning processes in a serious but readable manner. September 2021, iv, 146pp, large format illustrated paperback, £12.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-13-0; also casebound edition, £15.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-14-7.

The Gorge, by Annette Burkitt

Historical novel set in Somerset and Dorset in the 10th century, sequel to the author's Flesh and Bones (2017). King Athelstan is dead. Long live the new king, Edmund, his half-brother. The cobbled-together nation of England must react to the challenges of the times: threats from Northumbria and Ireland, resentment from Mercia, pressure from a Church flexing its powerful Catholic muscles. Reformation is in the air. The House of Wessex is weakened by a cliff-top promise and suffers a shocking assassination. Was it intended or was it provoked? This story of Wessex in the mid-tenth century is set in the landscape of Shaftesbury, Frome, and Cheddar. Drawing on historical and archaeological sources, it attempts to put flesh on the bones of early medieval England, illuminating the pre-conquest period and revealing its chief protagonists. September 2021, 380pp, illustrated paperback, £12.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-18-5.

Days of Dark and Light, Recent Poems by David Thompson

Recent poems by Frome (Somerset) writer, who explains that during the period from early 2020 to mid-2021, when the Covid-19 pandemic dominated much of daily life, many elements of experience were limited by an array of restrictions. Without travel, or the opportunity for everyday encounters, imagination and memory became even more important. In his case, a return to writing, and particularly to poetry, was a means of escaping or transcending the collapse of normal life. At the same time, he wanted to explore a variety of poetic forms, some of them unfamiliar, that were stimulating to attempt and seemed to match latent images and feelings. Includes the poet's own illustrations. September 2021, 74pp, illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-16-1.

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.

The Thomas Rackett Papers, 18th-19th Centuries, edited by H S L Dewar, revised by Ann Smith

From his quiet country parish at Spetisbury in Dorset, the Rev. Thomas Rackett corresponded with a wide-ranging variety of friends and contacts between 1786 and 1840. Fellow members of the Royal Institute wrote about experiments in physics, chemistry, engineering and the emerging science of electricity, Sir Richard Hoare wrote to him about archaeological exploration, and friends from abroad sent news from afar as South Africa, Canada and Russia. Rackett's interests included botany, engineering, heraldry, pre-historic and Roman antiquities, geology, shells and conchology, barrow-digging, Greek and Roman coins, and methods of engraving. He was personally involved in many of these activities and his correspondents wrote to him for advice and to exchange opinions. His wife and daughter contributed to the scientific, literary and historical discussions and come across in these letters as intelligent and well-read members of a society that accepted them as intellectual equals. The Thomas Rackett Papers was first published by Dorset Record Society in 1965 and this new edition includes correspondence with Mary Anning who was a friend of Racket's daughter. Dorset Record Society, vol.21. September 2021, xvi, 135pp, casebound, £14.95, ISBN 978-0-900339-24-0.

Bishopstone with Little Hinton Parish: its Archaeology and History, by Mogs Boon and Bernard Phillips

Bishopstone with Little Hinton Parish was formerly two parishes - Bishopstone and Hinton. They are in north-east Wiltshire on land which has a long and varied history that spans over 12,000 years of human activity. The two authors have for many years trod the fields and byways of the parish searching for evidence of man's impact on the landscape and the artefacts they have left behind. This book records for present and future generations their discoveries and those of others within the parish - from prehistoric flint tools to deserted medieval villages and long-lost water mills. September 2021, 100pp, colour illustrated paperback, £10.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-20-8.

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.

A Visit to Venus, story by George E Hobbs

This book is a result of the remarkable vision and creativity of the Swindon writer George Ewart Hobbs (1883-1946). Hobbs, whose life and works are also explored in A Swindon Wordsmith (published in 2019) and A Swindon Radical (2021), worked full-time as an engineer with the GWR, for more than half a century, but was still a prolific writer, across a dazzling range of (fiction and nonfiction) subjects. A Visit to Venus was originally serialised in the Swindon Advertiser, and although it is not his only work of science fiction, it is the longest and most ambitious, made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was written in 1927, when the genre was in its infancy. With its believable characters and the philosophical and theological questions it raises, A Visit to Venus sits alongside other quality (but much later) examples of the genre in its purest form, most notably Star Trek, boldly dealing with what science fiction is always about in the end: man's solitude. Because this is a story seeking not just what's out there, but rather what's inside us. Edited by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter, published in association with Swindon Heritage. September 2021, 132pp, illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-22-2.

New Titles, Summer 2021

The Witches of Selwood: Witchcraft Belief and Accusation in Seventeenth-Century Somerset, by Andrew Pickering 

The ancient forest of Selwood straddles the borders of Somerset and Wiltshire and terminates in the south where these counties meet Dorset. This book explores the connections between important theological texts written in the region, notably Richard Bernard's Guide to the Grand-Jury Men (1627) and Joseph Glanvill's Saducismus Triumphatus (1681), influential local families, and the extraordinary witchcraft accounts in the area. In particular it focuses on a little known case in the village of Beckington in 1689 and shows how this was not a late, isolated episode but an integral part of the wider Selwood Forest witchcraft story. By presenting a micro-history of a specific area, which was rife in witchcraft practices in the seventeenth century, the author makes a valuable contribution to early modern social history. Revised edition of a work first published in 2017.

April 2021, xxii+226pp, illustrated jacketed hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-05-5

Sweet Medicine, by Sue Boddington

Spring 1860 in a lonely corner of Montana, four people are seeking fulfilment in their lives and some form of healing for troubled minds. Bear Claw, the Cheyenne warrior, whose mother was the daughter of a Jewish pedlar, is searching for a way to reconcile his life as a Cheyenne with his promise to his mother to honour the traditions of her people. Ben Barnett, the youngest son of a Wiltshire squire has emigrated with his young wife Frances in the hope of finding a cure for his depression and restless spirit in the challenge of a pioneering life. Frances however, longs for a more secure, civilised life with her relatives in Boston. Lothar Klein dreams of becoming a rich man and being accepted in the upper ranks of European society and has travelled from Germany believing he will find gold in America. When the lives of these four people intersect a chain of events is set in motion that reaches a dramatic conclusion.

            The story is set against the background of the dangers and hardships of living in an untamed landscape and the often fraught relationship between the white settlers and the native population, but also how an individual friendship can transcend differences in race and culture. The life and traditions of the Cheyenne are portrayed in detail at a time when the Plains tribes still had the freedom to live in their own way before they were swept aside by the irresistible force of the believers in Manifest Destiny.

May 2021, 278pp, paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-08-6

The Farming Diaries of Thomas Pinniger, 1813-1847, edited by Alan Wadsworth

From 1813 until his death in 1847, Thomas Pinniger kept a detailed daily account of the sheep and corn husbandry he practised first at Little Bedwyn Farm to 1825, and then as the owner of Beckhampton Farm in Avebury parish from 1829. These periods were separated by a stay on Sambourne Farm in Chippenham, when he was more an observer than an active farmer. These 'Farming Memorandums', as Pinniger described them, provide a fascinating and detailed record of the challenges that he faced throughout his long career. Farming practices and developments, prices of corn and livestock, and the weather were all recorded in detail. Pinniger also noted the births, marriages and deaths of relatives, friends and acquaintances, revealing the social milieu in which he lived. Dates of funerals and of funeral services were also often provided, the latter rarely recorded in this period. He also provided a first hand account of the unrest of the Swing Riots of 1830, which he viewed as a serious threat.  The years 1823 to 1838 have been transcribed, but the whole span is covered in the introduction.  In keeping such meticulous daily records over so long a period, Thomas Pinniger stands as the principal representative of the class of yeoman farmers, from early to mid 19th-century Wiltshire.

June 2021, clxviii+416pp, illustrated hardback, £20.00, ISBN 978-0-901333-51-3. Published by Hobnob Press for the Wiltshire Record Society (volume 74)

A Surfeit of Magnificence: the Trials and Tribulations of Sir Thomas Champneys of Orchardleigh, by Mick Davis

Champneys was born in Frome in 1769 the last in a line of aristocrats who claimed origins back to William of Normandy. A series of bad judgements resulted in Thomas being born into a third generation of bankruptcy and despite marrying a very rich widow he was never able to extricate himself from this. He became involved in a serious legal disputes, was imprisoned for debt, undertook extravagant building projects and was rumoured to have engaged in homosexual relations which involved a court case for slander. In 1832 he stood in the local election which resulted in three days of rioting and the local militia firing on the crowd. He lost despite being popular with the working people who were not enfranchised. 

His debts became so large that his mansion, at Orchardleigh was raided by bailiffs on many occasions and the contents sent off to auction until eventually the estate was purchased by a relative and he was allowed to stay there with his wife until his death in 1839.

July 2021, viii+178pp, colour illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-06-2

Colesbourne: a Gloucestershire Village History, by Henry Elwes

The Cotswold village of Colesbourne straddles the picturesque valley of the River Churn, as it descends from Seven Springs to Cirencester. Since the 1780s, the historic Colesbourne Estate has been in the ownership of the Elwes family. It was Henry John Elwes who in the 1870s began Colesbourne's now world-famous snowdrop collection. In this new account, Sir Henry Elwes, who served from 1992 to 2010 as Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, draws on unique estate and family archives to paint a vivid picture of a community that saw many changes in the 20th century, yet still thrives today. A fascinating blend of local and personal histories, the book is profusely illustrated, many of the images being published here for the first time.

July 2021, vi+234pp, colour illustrated paperback, £12.50, ISBN 978-1-914407-03-1

Fifty-Six Poems, by Pete Gage

Pete Gage has had a successful career in the music industry, as lead vocalist in various blues bands, in particular the Jet Harris Band, Dr Feelgood, and latterly with his own 5-piece blues band The Pete Gage Band. In addition to being a Frome-based musician, Pete is both an artist and a poet, meticulously creating hand-painted mandalas based on Tibetan designs, but with his own westernized style. He studied graphic design in the 1960s at St Martin's Art College, London, and incorporated this training into the creation of his pictures. Reproductions of much of his work accompany these poems. Throughout his life since his late-teens Pete has written poems and free-flowing prose. The 56 poems included here present a cross-section of his verse, often rhythmic, but equally often free. Some of his poems can be quite simple, whilst others can be very deep, such is the expanse of Pete's creative expression.

July 2021, 120pp, colour illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-12-3

Bruton in Selwood, by Bruton Museum

This book, fully colour illustrated, tells the fascinating story of Bruton, a small town in Somerset, and its environs from the earliest times to the present day. An important ecclesiastical centre since the seventh century, notable individuals in Bruton's history include Sir John Fitzjames, standard bearer serving three monarchs and a co-founder of Bruton's free grammar school, Stephan Batman, an eminent Tudor author and cleric, Sir Hugh Sexey, the town's great benefactor, and Gabriel Felling and Ernst Blensdorf, two of its most admired artist-craftsmen. R. D. Blackmore, author of Lorna Doone was schooled in Bruton and, for most of 1959, it was home to the great American novelist, John Steinbeck. The lives of ordinary folk raising families, working on the land and in the town's mills, are revealed in a host of parochial records and in the fabric of the buildings in which they lived and worked, prayed and played.

July 2021, xii+112pp, colour illustrated jacketed hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-11-6

Déjà Lu: collected stories of Crysse Morrison

This collection of 37 stories, on themes ranging through love and loss, betrayal, passion and the complexity of human relationships between lovers and family members, has been selected from the author's long career of writing short stories. Most have been previously published in magazines or edited collections, or been presented on radio or as live readings. The author is a Frome based poet, novelist, dramatist and critic. August 2021, 197pp, paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-10-9.

Print Print | Sitemap
Hobnob Press