Just borrowed

I’ve just borrowed two beautiful books from work & wanted to share them. Daphne Du Maurier at Home is by Hilary Macaskill. I’ve reviewed her book on Charles Dickens at Home here & this new book is in the same style. Daphne Du Maurier’s novels were very often inspired by places, most especially houses in Cornwall like Menabilly & Kilmarth. From her first home in Fowey (which you can see on the cover) to Menabilly, the house she coveted & was eventually able to lease, to Kilmarth, her last home, place was very important to her. Menabilly was famously the inspiration for Manderley in Rebecca.

Menabilly also provided the inspiration for her historical novel The King’s General which was set during the English Civil War. In this picture, Daphne is looking up to where a bricked up room containing a skeleton was discovered in 1824. This incident was the spark that led to the novel. Daphne Du Maurier at Home  is a lavishly illustrated book describing all Du Maurier’s homes & the books she wrote while living in each of them.

I’ve been immersed in the Anglo Saxons lately. I’ve been enjoying Michael Wood’s latest documentary series, Alfred the Great & the Anglo-Saxons, which led me back to Asser’s Life of the king & Justin Pollard’s more recent biography. This beautiful book by Nicholas J Higham & Martin J Ryan is perfect for anyone who’s interested in the Anglo Saxon world. I read a review in one of my archaeological magazines & thought I would borrow it before taking the plunge & buying it (I’ve been a bit reckless in my book buying recently. I’ll have to do a confessional post when all the loot turns up).

The book is a synthesis of information from historical & archaeological sources. As well as the narrative proper, there are sections called Sources and Issues with more in depth information about topics such as the Staffordshire Hoard (above) that was discovered in 2009, King Arthur, the Anglo Saxon cemetery at Spong Hill & the various settlements at York.

The illustrations are beautiful, from detailed maps & plans of archaeological sites to the great works of art, jewellery & manuscripts of the age such as the Vespasian Psalter above. I want to read it from cover to cover but it would also be an excellent introduction to the Anglo Saxons or a book to dip into on a specific topic. The authors acknowledge a long list of friends & colleagues who read & advised on different chapters as the book is obviously based on the work of many scholars past & present. I know I’m going to have to have my own copy, it’s just a matter of time.

12 thoughts on “Just borrowed

  1. Like you, I've become interested in the Anglo-Saxons. Your book by Higham and Ryan looks wonderful. I've just acquired The Anglo-Saxons edited by James Campbell, which is good but has few color illustrations. After I've swallowed Campbell I will get Higham. Isn't it remarkable how much we know about these people who lived so very long ago.


  2. I have a copy of the Campbell book from the early 80s. It's a Book Club edition, I think. It's very good but this new book has some beautiful illustrations. I have started reading it but it's so heavy, I can only read it when Lucky doesn't want to sit on my lap. So, it will be a slow process!


  3. Lyn, these books look wonderful. I'm interested in Daphne du Maurier and the Anglo-Saxons, and I love Michael Wood, have rather a crush on him for a long time as he seems a lovely man and has a great personality, his enthusiasm for history is contagious. I've not seen the Anglo-Saxon book above. If you go on to you tube, all of the episodes of Michael Wood's very first series, In Search of the Dark Ages, is there to watch, it's great and I wish someone would put it all on dvd so we could buy it. It's nice to find a fellow history lover here!


  4. I've watched the Dark Ages on YouTube &, apart from the dreadful music, it's stood up well. I read somewhere that it won't ever be released on DVD because the quality of the tape isn't good enough & from the quality of the YouTube uploads, I'd have to agree! It is great to see MW in that gorgeous sheepskin jacket & to see him walking around English towns in the late 70s. I don't think he's aged a bit! His series on Shakespeare is also excellent.


  5. I'm about two thirds of the way through now but, as I said, I can only read it when Lucky or Phoebe don't want to sit on my lap. Last Sunday, I sat down at 11am & read for an hour as they were both outside. It felt faintly disreputable to be reading in the middle of the morning!


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