Monthly Archives: September 2016

Who can tell a book by its cover?

Apparently a lot of people, judging by the emphasis placed on cover design by the experts at the Historical Novel Society Conference I attended recently in Oxford (UK not OH!). Famed Oxford Book Shop, Blackwell’s, had a stunning array of books by conference presenters and attendees on display in the reception area (which in my overwhelmed state I forgot to photograph) but here are some examples taken from promotional material created by and for the authors in attendance.
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In this new era of self-publishing, hybrid-publishing, as well as the proliferation of independent publishers (so-called “indies”), authors potentially have far greater control over how their story is represented in promotional material and above all on the book’s cover, and so for example Continue reading Who can tell a book by its cover?

Talking of heroes and great men…

Here is one who gets a lot more credit in both categories than he deserves thanks to the infatuation of the Victorians with the Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries. Richard I of England, better known as Richard the Lion Heart (or Coeur de Lion in his native French!) is the only English king to be honored with a statue in front of the Houses of Parliament, implying some connection with that ancient institution, or at least the country it represents. Richard, although a great soldier (credit where credit is due) spent almost no time in his English kingdom, preferring his lands in France when he wasn’t half way around the world slaying “infidels,” while soaking his poor English tax payers to finance his crusade (not to mention pay his enormous ransom when he was careless enough to get captured). Oh well, the English have always loved a “romantic” figure!

Richard I

Funnily enough, just around the corner, more or less tucked away, is another statue, the oft reviled Oliver Cromwell, Continue reading Talking of heroes and great men…

London, Sunday September 18th

The Elizabeth Tower (the “house” of the great bell, Big Ben)

Big Ben strikes the quarter hour. The streets of London’s famous Parliament Square are all but deserted on this early Sunday morning. A few stragglers are heading for Westminster Abbey for matins, a very few. We are shunted off to Saint Margaret’s, the lovely Abbey Church next door. It turns out that in a few hours there is to be a memorial service in the Abbey to commemorate the Battle of Britain when pilots from all the allied nations

The Great Winston Churchill

(average age 22) fought in the skies above England for three long months between July and October 1940 to beat off the formidable forces of the German Luftwaffe. Most of us today owe our freedom to the fact that they succeeded, or to put it in the eloquent words of the British Prime Minister at the time Winston Churchill, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”