Nicolas Barker

Figures in a landscape

As you cross the Trent, you are very much aware that you have moved from the south to the north country. The next great divide is the Tyne, with the dramatic straggle of Newcastle stretching east and west. Beyond lies mile upon mile of Northumberland, all the way to the Scottish border, arable land for

Firing the youthful imagination

I must first declare an interest, now almost subliminal, in the subject of this vast, comprehensive, polymorphous and wholly captivating book. I was six when the war broke out and 12 when it ended. I read a lot of the books described new, as well as many more that were older. I remember the Magnet,

A mixed bag of memories

In 1958, half way through the century here recorded, the late and much lamented National Book League put on the first ever antiquarian book fair, with 24 members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association exhibiting. ‘We hope,’ wrote The Book Collector, ‘that the ABA will be encouraged to make this an annual event.’ It did, and

Birds in the hand

Penguin By Designby Phil BainesPenguin/Allen Lane, £16.99, pp. 255, ISBN 0713998393 Publishers do not make popular heroes. Who has heard of Humph- rey Moseley, who published the Caroline poets? Or Jacob Tonson, apart from Pope’s patronising verses? Thomas Hughes made Tom Brown’s School Days famous, but could not do the same for Daniel Macmillan. But

Royal taste in reading

Henry VIII is the first English monarch whose features everyone knows. The sharp little eyes in the massive head, the golden beard, above all the commanding stance in which Holbein painted him, are infinitely familiar and always terrifying. This is the man who sent More and Cromwell, two of his wives and many others to