cover of book

Scholars, Poets and Radicals: Discovering Forgotten Lives in the Blackwell Collection
by Rita Ricketts
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2015
Cloth: 978-1-85124-425-6
Library of Congress Classification Z325.B625R53 2015
Dewey Decimal Classification 070.592094109034

The Blackwell Collections—the archive of the well-loved bookselling and publishing company—are full of surprises. There are warrior women no longer prepared to suffer the fate of a spellbound princess, scholarly apprentices giving themselves an Oxford education, and reluctant radicals publishing in protest against the authorities who sent so many to “certain death” in the Great War. Amid the many unknown authors the Blackwells published are famous names: J. R. R Tolkien, John Buchan, Wilfred Owen, John Betjeman, Dorothy L Sayers, Vera Brittain, Edith Sitwell, and Laurence Binyon, who is recollected whenever For the Fallen is read. But the memoirs, letters, and journals of “ordinary people” who worked for the family also deserve a hearing. The diary of Will King, a real-life Jude the Obscure, stands out. Its astonishing record of what he read and his mordant dissection of the texts amounts to a critique of English culture between 1910 and 1950. Together with the stories of three generations of B. H. Blackwells and their diverse associates, the book provides a panel of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history far beyond Oxford.

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