Hobnob Press

New and Recent Books

New Titles, Spring 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 Drawing on previously unpublished material and sources, this is the first in-depth biography of one of life’s ‘quiet’ heroes.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.

Give us a Neg! by Richard Wintle

A trawl through the sporting archive of Swindon’s picture agency. The third selection of images drawn from the millions archived by the author during his career as a freelance press photographer and owner of Calyx Picture agency. Based in Swindon (Wiltshire) this volume highlights the many local sporting events that the author has covered, including spectacular action shots, with a commentary about the techniques that sports photojournalists employ. January 2022, 134pp, colour illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-27-7.

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.

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