Monday, 12 January 2015
The York Book Fair
A major book fair is held at York Racecourse in early January each year. I don't travel there every year, since a trip on the M62 in wintry conditions is not the ideal way of passing the time, but a long week-end in York this year coincided happily with the fair, so I was able to make it. And it was, as ever, fun to look at books that I'll never be able to own but which are nevertheless full of interest.
An example was a thriller called Wheels of Anarchy by Max Pemberton, which dates back to 1908. Pemberton was a well-known writer of his day, and I first came across his writing as a teenager, when a story of his appeared in Hugh Greene's brilliant anthology The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. What intrigurd me about Wheels of Anarchy was that Pemberton explains in a preface that the idea for the story came from his friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson, who died young, shortly before it was written.
Now Robinson was also the chap who gave Conan Doyle the idea for The Hound of the Baskervilles. It must be very unusual for a writer (and Robinson did write some detective stories of his own) to give publishable ideas to not one but two friends, and still less common for one of them to become an all-time classic. He originated from Liverpool, and in fact I've had a business connection with his family's very old-established firm for many years. He was a remarkable man, and I hope to write more about him at a later date.
There were many other gems on sale, including a set of four books signed by Christopher Bush, and a couple of thrillers signed by Victor Bridge, as well as a signed first of Len Deighton's classic The IPCRESS File. The photos come from James M. Pickard's stand - two early, pseudonymous, Ellis Peters mysteries are in the top photo. All well outside my price bracket, but nice to see,all the same.
Another pleasant aspect of book fairs is the chance to catch up with a few friends. Unexpectedly on Saturday, I met for the first time Catherine Hawley and her husband Rob, who were trading at a book fair for the very first time. Catherine blogs as Juxtabook and like me is a big fan of Josephine Tey and Reg Hill; I've been enjoying her blog for years, and can recommend it.