This delightful collection of country curiosities shows rural life in the raw a hundred or more years ago. Hugely enjoyable, a real eye-opener and surprisingly useful.
Country Life magazine has set the standard for the illustrated periodical since its birth in 1897. World-renowned for the quality of its writing and the comprehensiveness of its archive, it has charted, with charm and humour, all aspects of rural life in Britain.
The Country Life Cookery Book
**with a preface by Simon Hopkinson**
The Country Life Cookery Book was written by Ambrose Heath and illustrated by Eric Ravilious in 1937. It is an excellent cookery book, set out in twelve chapters, one for each month of the year, with some extra sections on ‘A Few River Fish’, ‘Herbs in the Kitchen’ and ‘A Calendar of Home-Grown Vegetables’. This last is especially useful for Persephone readers who grow their own vegetables or have an organic box delivered as it is a quick way of looking up what should be in season.
And naturally the recipes are seasonal too. As Simon Hopkinson, the well-known chef and cookery writer, says in his new Preface: ‘Seasonal is simply how it was. Those of my parents’ generation, as well as that of Mr Heath, knew nothing else other than, say, the purchase of a pound of leeks from the greengrocer in winter, followed by no leeks at all, all summer long.’ And, he continues, ‘seasonal cookery writing is all the rage, now, but this was not always so. Nobody worth their salt would now dream of giving a recipe for asparagus in November, yet it was seen as the height of sophistication to be served the same vegetable imported from California in smart London restaurants throughout the 1970s.’
Something else that Simon Hopkinson admires is the Englishness of The Country Life Cookery Book. Ambrose Heath’s voice was ‘entirely that of a homegrown enthusiast. An intellect and ingenuity, thrift and humour, good taste and provenance, together with a charming indifference to a majority of precise measurements or timings, quite delight this present day reader. I would give anything to be allowed to compose recipes this way, this day, for a cookery book – and to have the beautiful engravings of Eric Ravilious as decoration throughout just as a wistful reverie.’
For, indeed, the other reason for reprinting this book, apart from the usefulness of the recipes, is that it has a dozen delightful Ravilious illustrations with which most people will be unfamiliar (this cookery book has never been reprinted before and secondhand copies are fiendishly expensive.)
The endpapers taken from an early 1930s design for a textile by Josef Hillerbrand for Morton Sundour.
Letters to the Editor: A Miscellany
Readers of Country Life have always been eager to share their knowledge of all aspects of life in Britain. Among the letters published each week in the magazine are to be found a delightfully varied collection of musings on rural life, regional oddities, curious objects, favoured pets and even puzzles. Selecting from hundreds of thousands of letters from the first sixty or so years of the magazine's existence, here is the creme de la creme.
Beautifully presented, and illustrated with photos and illustrations (often startling in their originality, eccentricity or both) sent in by readers themselves, this is a book to dip into time and again, and every visit guarantees pleasure, laughter and surprise. And among the responses, from other readers and from the magazine's editors, can be found astonishingly well informed and wise advice on everything from sundials to dog food that still stands the test of time.
Gentlemen's Pursuits: A Country Miscellany for the Discerning
The rich and largely unseen archive of Country Life dates back to 1897. In Gentleman's Pursuits, the doors are thrown open and a host of fascinating details emerge.
Country Life contributed hugely to the cult of country sports in late Victorian/Edwardian England, and there is an enormous wealth of material from the time, of which a choice selection is presented here. Within this volume are found tips on pipe-smoking for discerning males, advice on gun dogs, rules about how to lay on the best shooting lunches (usually involving long trips to Fortnum and Mason's), detailed musings on tweed coats and caps, intense discussions on the correct ammo with which to take on a rogue elephant, and all you ever want to know about fishing tackle.
The Glory of the Garden: A Horticultural Celebration
Gardening writing goes to the heart of the iconic brand that is Country Life. Gertrude Jekyll, the doyenne of gardening art, was a driving force at the birth of Country Life in 1897, and set the standard for some of the best English gardening writing. The influence of this writing on twentieth century English garden design is hard to overestimate.
Yet here all is presented in accessible articles and choice photos. Within the pages of The Glory of the Garden you can trace the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Edwardian revolution in garden design, the Italianate obsessions and the eccentric longing for an Olde English style. Every article resonates with period charm, historical detail and still-relevant instruction.
Curious Observations: A Country Miscellany
'Each of the wry, witty, slightly quirky and downright odd observations in the collection adds to what Mark Hedges, Country Life's editor, calls in his foreword the golden seam of what it is to be and feel British. In essence Curious Observations is a gentle meander through the social fabric of life and traditions in the countryside' The Times
A perfectly formed and beautifully presented collection of titbits from the ever-surprising pages of Country Life. Flitting from observations on cheese rolling in Gloucestershire to smuggling silk in Sussex, from Shakespeare's Avon to the vanishing sign language of country tramps... and all by way of a charming rumination on the origins of the simnel cake.
Within these lovely pages there will indeed be something for everyone. Classic writing on the idyllic British countryside, Wodehousian ruminations on fishing and golf, and moving accounts of beloved (and unusual) pets.