Monday, March 26, 2012

Favorite Junk: Victorian Copies of Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake and Marmion

When I was 14 I became a bibliophile.

Victorian copies of Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake and Marmion.
Favorite Junk:  The Lady of the Lake and Marmion
One afternoon my parents took us to a book sale at the local public library and in among the paperbacks and other ex-libris stamped hardbacks were some vintage books that had been donated to help raise funds for the library.  And among this pile were two of the most beautiful books I'd ever seen - copies of Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake and Marmion.  I had already loved reading, but these books started a passion that has never waned.

Oh, and they were only $5.  At 14, I was already an accomplished garage saler and junk store junkie and bargain hunter. Even then, I knew a deal when I saw one. And couldn't resist.

My parents have always been great readers and encouraged us from a young age as well, allowing us to stay up and read instead of turning our light out.  Bedtime was at 8, but we could read until 8:30.  What a great privilege.

Ah, moody poetry (from Lady of the Lake)
But this was different.  The glossy brown covers and shiny gold leaf on the edging were elegant and fancy and as I was at that age obsessed with Victoriana of all sorts, they were the perfect starting point for what at times is really just a compulsion to collect....possibly even hoard...books.  I later received a copy of A Gentle Madness a history of book collecting and it talked about how being a bibliophile is a lifelong "problem."  While I now have to temper my "madness" by avoiding picking up antique books at boot sales, every once in a while I get weak.  It's not about reading them.  Sometimes.  But in many ways books our our companions, our friends and having a room filled with them....well, I long for a library like Henry Higgins' in My Fair Lady.  Just to sit all day in the company of books is a lovely thing.

These two elegant ladies started my gentle madness and were one of the first things put into the box of "must takes" when I moved to the U.K.  I look at them and they still make me smile and I love them just as much as I did that day in the library 25 years ago...

No comments:

Post a Comment