Swindon ~ recent titles
Swindon: a Born Again Swindonian’s Guide, by Angela Atkinson
Angela Atkinson set up a blog in personal celebration of Swindon and called it ‘Born again Swindonian’. She is a fully-fledged Swindon enthusiast, and although not blind to the town’s flaws, she simply chooses to look beyond them and focus on Swindon’s many positives. Her words carry a genuine passion and commitment for her adopted home town. This guide is jam packed with pages explaining why. From blue plaques to bluebells, computing to copses, sculptures to Swindon secrets, there is something for everyone sandwiched between these pages.
July 2020, 96pp, colour illustrated, paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-84-6.
The Story of my Heart, by Richard Jefferies
Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) was a naturalist, novelist and social commentator, born near Swindon and always associated with the north Wiltshire countryside. A perceptive observer of human and animal life, in countryside and town, his sensitive, exquisite writing has always been cherished and admired. In 1883, towards the end of his short life, he set down in this spiritual autobiography his heartfelt philosophy of mankind’s place in the natural world. Wayward in places, but always beautifully phrased and meticulously observed – whether describing the hills of his native Wiltshire or the bustle of a London street – this visionary Victorian classic has taken on a new relevance for a world facing unprecedented ecological challenges.
June 2020, 188pp, paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-906978-87-7.
Selected Poems and The Testament, by Alfred Williams
Alfred Williams (1877–1930), dubbed ‘the hammerman poet’, was a self-taught Wiltshire genius, whose life was toil and poverty, but who deserves to live on and be remembered as a sensitive chronicler of village life, folksong collector, industrial reporter – and rural poet, in the mould of Clare, Cowper and Whitman. This is a facsimile reprint of his Selected Poems, published in 1925, to which has been appended one longer poem, ‘The Testament’, a joyful celebration of nature and mankind’s place in the world.
June 2020, 230pp, paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-906978-86-0.
A Picture is only the start of the story . . ., by Richard Wintle
A first selection of images drawn from the millions archived by the author during his career as freelance press photographer and owner of Calyx Picture agency. Based in Swindon, the images chronicle events of many kinds in the town and its surroundings, including factory closures, royal visits, music and film celebrities, military repatriations and major news stories. March 2020, 125pp, colour illustrated, square format paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-82-2.
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).
Swindon Photographers and Postcard Publishers, by Darryl Moody and Paul A Williams
Early photographs have an undeniable power, providing a window to our past with an immediacy that is hard to match – documenting change and capturing history. Museums, archives and local studies libraries, therefore, continue to build extensive photographic collections to preserve this important visual record for the future. The Local Studies team at Swindon Central Library has built up over many years a list of local photographers, postcard publishers and others connected with the photographic history of Swindon and the surrounding area. Now, drawing on existing resources, librarian Darryl Moody and local historian Paul A Williams have created the definitive reference guide, including all known individual professional photographers, partnerships, firms, postcard publishers and a number of more notable amateurs working in the Swindon area. Published by Hobnob for Local Studies (Swindon Libraries & Information Service) May 2019, 125pp, illustrated paperback, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-906978-67-9.