Down by the riverside
Happy Birthday, Tilly!

More "reading art" (for Ellen Kushner):

The Poor Poet by Carl Spitzweg

Girl Reading in Bed by James McNeil Whistler

My Life in Bed by Joseph Hubbard

“Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed ’till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.”  – Barbara Kingsolver

Reading in Bed by Peter Brannon

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."  - James Baldwin

Boys Reading by André Kertész

The Dramatist by Brigit Ganley

Girl Reading by Vanessa Bell

Interior with Duncan Grant Reading by Vanessa Bell

Portrait of Chattie Salaman by Duncan Grant

“We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves."  – David L. Ulin

Woman Reading by Alexander Deinka

A Lady Reading by Felix Vallotton

Reader with Yellow Necklace by Félix Vallotton

Sally by Mia Wolff

"Live for a while in the books you love. Learn from them what is worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be returned to you a thousand times over. Whatever your life may become, these books -of this I am certain- will weave through the web of your unfolding. They will be among the strongest of all threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys." - Rainer Maria Rilke 

The Blue Pool by Augustus John

The Precious Book by Gwen John

Brown Tea Pot with Yellow by Gwen John

“So often, a visit to a bookshop has cheered me, and reminded me that there are good things in the world.” – Vincent van Gogh

Novels by Vincent Van Gogh

The Novel Reader by Vincent Van Gogh

Hall's Bookshop by John Wheatley

A Song Worth Volumes by Camille Engle

"The Poor Poet" by Carl Spitzweg  (German, 1808-1834); "My Life in Bed" by  Joseph Hubbard (American), "Girl Reading," an etching by James Abbott MacNeill Whistler (American, 1934-1903); "Reading in Bed" by Peter Brannan (English, 1926-1994);  "Boys Reading," a  photograph by André Kertész (Hungarian-American, 1894-1985 ), "The Dramatist: A Portrait of the Artist's Husband" by Brigit Ganley (Irish, 1909-2002); "Girl Reading" and "Interior with Duncan Grant Reading" by Vanessa Bell  (English, 1879-1961); "Portrait of Chattie Salaman" by Duncan Grant (English, 1885-1978);  "Woman Reading" by Alexander Deineka (Russian, 1899-1969); "A Lady Reading" and "Reader With Yellow Necklace" by Félix Vallotton (Swiss, 1865-1925); "Sally" by Mia Wolff (American);  "The Blue Pool: Dorelia with Book" by Augustus John (Welsh, 1878-1961); "The Precious Book" and "Brown Tea Pot with Yellow Book" by his sister, Gwen John (Welsh, 1876-1939); "Novels" and "Novel Reader" by Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)'  "Hall's Bookshop in Royal Tunbridge Wells, west Kent" by John Wheatley (English, 1892-1955); and a "A Song Worth Volumes by Camille Engle (American), from her lovely Literary Roost series.


The books that filled my life to the uttermost brim as a child were all written by Enid Blyton. Now her work is considered so 'politically incorrect' that I've heard of teachers and even parents banning them from children's lives. Even so, they're still sold today, re-jacketed and re-packaged to appeal to a modern audience. It has to be admitted that some of her attitudes are appalling by today's standards, and it could be argued that some are appalling by any standards at all! But if we read them as historical tracts and as reflections of the time in which they were written, I think they still have a value as a source of unrivaled entertainment. Blyton was a consummate story-teller, and I still remember immersing myself in her world so completely that real life paled to insignificance. I have yet to read an author whose work engenders in me the same level of excitement and pure undiluted pleasure that I felt as a child when I first opened a book by Enid Blyton that I hadn't read before.

They weren't as well known in America, so I've never read them - but they certainly seemed to have turned many children into readers, which is always a good thing.

I'm trying to think if there was an equivalent writer or series of books for young American readers, and I'm not sure who or what that would be. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, perhaps -- which aren't widely known over here in the UK. (They are "teen detective" series, one for boys and one for girls, first published back in the 1920s/30s and still running today.) But those books are published under fake author names -- Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene -- and have actually been ghostwritten by many, many different writers over the years. (I've been one of them -- shhhh, we're not supposed to tell!) Being "factory farmed" like this, the books inevitably have a pretty bland, standardized style.

I'm told, however, that the first books in the Nancy Drew series were a bit daring for the time -- the original ghostwriter, Mildred Wirt Benson, was a journalist and led a very interesting life, quite liberated for a woman of her day.

Enid Blyton, on the other hand, was an actual person. Any ideas, folks, if there was an equivalent mid-20th century writer for American children?

Modern educationalists forget that the attitudes she had pass over most children. For those who read her books she offered the liberation of adventure without adults. I wished to be George with all my heart, to be honest I still do. I defy anyone not to have a favourite from the Far Away tree. I still look in the holes at the base of trees with bated breath.

I have loved everyone of the last posts Terri. You have an uncanny knack of chiming with the peal of thoughts. I am going to be working on how to engage children in reading (an ongoing project) over the summer, I am finding your posts invaluable. The marriage of words and pictures are inspiring.

Bless you, Charlotte.

And what about the wonderful Wishing Chair?! A piece of furniture that could fly you to adventures! My parents had an old dining room chair that'd belonged to my Gran and I used to sit in it in the desperate hope it would sprout wings and whisk me off somewhere!

And you all noticed that it's one of Jane Yolen's books in the last painting, yes...? Nestled between Austen and Dickens. Perfect.

I am blushing, and grinning, and no no I'm not crying!

You knew I'd love these, and why.

The treasures of a lifetime! Well, several lifetimes.

Who knew Van Gogh painted books? Or that those charming French peasant-costume ladies also took time for a quick read? And of course I noticed the Jane Yolen - nestled there between Dickens & Austen.

And, of course, that the artist's husband would only hold still while reading: I rest my case!


Fabulous collection of paintings... I love that you always introduce me to new painters, thanks.

"...the uncanny knack of chiming with the peal of thoughts...." Just beautiful.

Terri I'm enormously impressed that you were a ghost writer for the Nancy Drew series! They are known in the UK. I think I read some of the Hardy Boys Series. 'The mystery of the Green Ghost' I think it was called, and another called the 'The mystery of the Black Pearl'. There was also another with an ancient Egyptian theme; jewels hidden inside a psarcophagus. All great fun!

Glad you like it, dear. I think you'll like the Friday post too. xoxo

Oh yes, the wonderful Wishing Chair! And, though I know they are considered not PC today, I cannot resist, and have just recently purchased a boxed set of Famous Five books, with reproductions of the original covers. My eldest already has the Secret Seven and is so far up to number 4. I adored them when I was 11 or 12! And Charlotte, I wanted to be George too!

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