Sunday, March 28, 2010

'Tis Fitz We Understand

The prefix Fitz- is an old word for "son of", especially used for the illegitimate sons of royalty.  Bear that in mind as we lay out this factoid.

We recently came across this exciting book, A Descriptive Catalogue of the manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum, by Montague Rhodes James (yeah, that M. R. James). The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge and was founded in 1816 with the bequest of the library and art collection of the 7th Viscount FitzWilliam.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Goreyana: The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost

Goreyana author Irwin Terry out-does himself with his notes about the various pieces of artwork for The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost:
  • Edward Gorey provided artwork for the full wrap around dust jacket, the hand lettered type for the cover and spine, a frontis drawing, and two interior spot illustrations. I have all of these pieces of art in my collection, and also have the water color sketch Mr. Gorey made for the dust wrapper design.
  • Mr. Gorey often blocked out color paintings by making a loosely painted sketch before proceeding with the final illustration. I am not aware of any other preliminary art which exists from the Bellairs series. The preliminary art shows all the major elements in place for the dust jacket, although the evil floating face in front of Johnny on the cover is inexplicably smiling! This piece of art is a wonderful look into how Edward Gorey sketched out his paintings. Artists often create color renderings before attacking complicated paintings, and Mr. Gorey's sketches are always very loose. This piece has paint liberally splashed about!
  • It has been pointed at Bellairsia that on the first edition hard cover edition of this book, the spelling on the stained glass window is incorrect - "ZABU". It is corrected on the paperback edition to "ZEBU". Looking closely at the original artwork, there is a practically invisible paste-up over the showing where Mr. Gorey corrected his mistake. This misspelling is even more unusual considering the word is spelled correctly on the sketch.
  • The two pieces of interior artwork complete the collection from this title. The smaller of the two could have easily been lost over the years, and the diagram drawn by "Professor Coote" at the end of the story is another example of the care Edward Gorey took for even simple illustrations.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Statues, Figures, and Irving Finkel

In the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell there is a wonderful passage in which the statues in York Minster Cathedral are brought to life by magic and begin to speak. The Into My Own blog speculates what the "statues and figures that can be seen in Edinburgh" might be pontificating about.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Time Capsule: 1566

March 9, 1566: When you settle down for the night, what sort of book do you dig out of the shelves? History?  Mystery?  Romance?  A book Lewis finds in his uncle’s house is Volume IX of Stoddard's Lectures, labeled "Scotland, England, and London":

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Top 10 Mistypings

As we prepare for the tenth anniversary of Bellairsia, we’re using our moderately-new Twitter feed to share some memorable moments and commentary in the form of Top Ten lists.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hannah Duston, Badass of the Week

Long-time fans will recognize the name Hannah Duston from John’s stories as she is memorialized in Johnny Dixon’s adopted home of Duston Heights. Stephan Kinsella reminds us of her story:
Despite what Riverdale Elementary School’s annual First-Grade Thanksgiving Day Class Play might have you believe, early Colonial America wasn’t all one giant super happy mecha fun time made out of maize, delicious roasted turkey breast, and Pocahontas teaching John Smith the meaning of friendship and cooperation by baking pumpkin pies and putting out on the Sabbath.

#JohnBellairs