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The Earl of Cork's Enigma

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Therein Illustrated & The Honour Of It

"House" frontispiece by Edward Gorey
We came across this article about the decline in artwork used in children's books. For an example the author cites John's novels and the differences in artwork between those published in the 1970s and those released during the 80s. We thought we'd re-publish it here to gain some more insights:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Comments of Praise, Richly Compiled

John Bellairs
Catherine Dalek commented on some of her summer reading list, including few Bellairs titles:
Obviously I’m not the target audience. however, I’m not sure how well novels written in the 1980s but set in the 1950s resonate with today’s ten year olds.
What say you, readers of today?  Do you enjoy reading of the world 50+ years ago or is too strange a time and place to bother with?  We wonder how John would have been affected by - or would have affected - children’s literature trends were he still around.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More About Widow's Walk Lake

Widow's Walk Lake
Filmmaker and Bellairs-fan James Strayer got in touch with us earlier this year about his latest work, Widow's Walk Lake, a film inspired partly by some of Bellairs’ spooky stories. The story is set in the 1930s and follows a young man as he goes off to war leaving his wife behind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enquirer: Marshall Historic District Possible

Marshall, Michigan
Darby Prater reports in the Battle Creek Enquirer:
In a town known as "Historic Marshall," it might seem appropriate that downtown buildings be required to maintain an historic appearance. But, while preservation of traditional architecture is encouraged, Main Street Manager Diane Larkin said without establishing a local historic district, the city has no legal control over it. Representatives and volunteers from 17 Michigan communities convened Tuesday [December 9] at Schuler's Restaurant to discuss the role of design in historic preservation. Marshall is one of four cities nominated for the master level of the Michigan Main Street Program, which will help Marshall attract tourism and industry, Larkin said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Alert: Magic Mirrors

Books News
There is news this holiday season of what appears to be a new John Bellairs anthology on the horizon. This one is a collection of his non-YA books entitled (appropriately enough) Magic Mirrors. The anthology looks to include:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Something About a Magician Disillusioned

Lumache Mansion in Colon, Michigan
If there's one thing we learned from The Specter of the Magician's Museum it's the men and women who practiced stage magic came up with some interesting stage names. Much of Specter has its roots in the American Museum of Magic in Marshall as well as Colon, the magic capital of Michigan. There are more names buried out in Colon's Lakeside Cemetery, too. The Magnificent Fraud. The Amazing Conklins. The Conjuring Humorist.  America's Greatest Pickpocket. You get the idea.

Ion Zwitter shares the story of one such magician, The Great Lumache:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Grave of the Unknown Stranger

I found the vignettes in this article interesting – and in one case, a bit Bellairsian. Even the title of this post strikes me as a potential book title.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Whirl Along with Us in the Globe

Inside the globe
How many glass orbs can you think of from the Bellairs and Strickland novels?
  • The green glass paperweight-thing of Prospero's (The Face in the Frost)
  • The snow globe Johnny sees first hand (The Hand of the Necromancer)
  • Does that crystal orb atop Mrs. Zimmermann’s staff count?
Elisabeth linked to images of snow globes created by Walter Martin and Pamela Munoz and rightly says they remind her of Bellairs's books and Gorey's illustrations.  Yes, indeed they do - and we'd love to see a series of globes with one representing each book.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Review: Vengeance "A Very Fast Read...Deliciously Spooky"

Book review: The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder

Time Capsule: October 31, 1948

The ayes have it
October 31, 1948: It may be hard to believe but it was sixty years ago tonight that ten-year-old Lewis Barnavelt dared himself to meet Tarby Corrigan in Oakridge Cemetery and...well...you know the rest.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Such Virtue Hath My Pen

Fan art for "The Figure in the Shadows"
Color us impressed: John Joy has created a mock book cover design for John Bellairs’ The Figure in the Shadows.  Very impressive - to the point we'd like to see the whole series by Mr. Joy. Anyone at Dial paying attention?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Book Alert: The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer

The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer
It's summer again in New Zebedee and Lewis Barnavelt is back in another hair-raising adventure! What sort of shadowy figure does Lewis see and why has our timid hero immersed himself in understanding the mystical and magical number three? Fates? Wise men? Blind mice?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Time Capsule: October 3, 1958

October 3, 1958: 50 years ago today John Bellairs debuted in the pages of the University of Notre Dame student magazine, the Scholastic. Now a senior level English major, Bellairs and friend Charles Bowen were tapped to share their humorous observations about life in South Bend by alternating each week as the author of "Escape".

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008 Living History Portrayal Walk

Oakridge Cemetery
Oakridge Cemetery, one of the oldest continuously operated cemeteries in Michigan, is home again this year to the 8th Annual "If These Stones Could Talk..." Living History Portrayal Walk. This guided walking tour will feature actors portraying significant persons from Marshall's past at each of those individual's gravesites.

This year’s famous Marshallnites include Anne Ells (no relation Myra, that we know of), Samuel Burpee, Mary Coleman, Deville Hubbard, Calvin Clark, Rev. Christopher Heidenreich, and Adam Crosswhite. The event will take place rain or shine so participants are encouraged to bring flashlights, wear comfortable walking shoes, and carry an umbrella.

When: October 11, 2008
Time: 7:00 pm

To learn more, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time Capsule: September 20, 1378

Grand Central Schism
September 20, 1378: 630 years ago today Antipope Clement VII was elected by French cardinals as opposition to the Roman-elected Pope Urban VI; these proceedings lead to what Bellairs lovingly called the Grand Central Schism in Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies [58-9].

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To Think What Follows....

Eoin Colfer
The Bookshelves of Doom notes the news of the sixth book in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, after Adams's widow sanctioned Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl) as the author. The site then notes:
I generally don't like it when people continue the work of much-beloved-but-sadly-deceased authors (see Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, John Bellairs, etc.).
The sixth Hitchhiker’s book, And Another Thing..., will be published in October 2009. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bellairs and Gorey, Scary Does it

Bellairs (and Gorey) fan Megan Noel shares some memories of reading of The Curse of the Blue Figurine in a slightly strange location, and makes a good point about Dial having copies of Edward Gorey's artwork  laying around.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Whistle and Hum

Whistle and Hum
Brendan Adkins writes about finding new Bellairs books - albeit in a dream.  And he may be on to something because I may have had a similar dream.

I was adamant the new cover featured Johnny or Lewis riding a bicycle on an empty rural road and there was something shadowy watching from behind the only tree within miles.  Whistle and Hum sounds more interesting - unless it's a bad U2 cover album.

Then I glanced over and noticed a series of five John Bellairs books that I remembered enjoying in high school (including one called Whistle and Hum). I thought about finding them for a while after I woke up, until I realized they don’t exist.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Salisbury Cathedral, Cheer thy Spirit with this Comfort

Salisbury Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Mary – better known as Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England – is celebrating the 750th anniversary of its consecration.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Visit to Edward Gorey's House

Edward Gorey House
Edward Gorey's art is something you don't forget. Even if you can't remember his name, his style stands out.  Pam also thinks his former house stands out and she's remembered enough about her visit to share these thoughts online.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

45th Annual Historic Home Tour

Marshall, Michigan
For 45 years the Marshall Historical Society has been showcasing eight private homes, one church, and one business as part of its Historic Home Tour. It has been called the Granddaddy of Midwest Home Tours and is famous all over the country for its traditions and heritage. Marshall's Home Tour was voted the Best Home Tour by the readers of AAA's Michigan Living magazine.

Of special interest to fans of John Bellairs is the inclusion in this year's tour of the Zaharion (née Cronin) House (407 North Madison), the landmark inspiration for The House with a Clock in its Walls.

When: September 6-7, 2008
Time: Saturday 9:00 to 5:00, Sunday 10:00 to 5:00

For more information, including cost, please contact the Marshall Historical Society.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

About Widow's Walk Lake

Widow's Walk Lake
One of the joys of Bellairsia over the years has been the response we get from fans. Some are new to the Bellairs-game and have questions about books, while others are long-time readers and appreciate the site memorializing John and his work. It’s also been nice to hear from John’s close friends and have them express their pleasure in us keeping John’s memory alive. And we’ve had fun doing it, too.

So we found it interesting a few weeks ago that another such fan surfaced to tell his story.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Prosperity Be Thy Page Count!

Book pages
Over the past few months our inbox has had the fair share of questions about the new book: when is it going to be released, which character is the book about, what is the plot, and so on. Well, we know The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer is due out this October, it features Lewis Barnavelt, and that Amazon.com says the book is 176 pages.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The John Bellairs Mural

John Bellairs mural
Team Haverhill, an independent citizen action group dedicated to bettering Haverhill, Massachusetts, began a Mural Project in 2007 consisting of outdoor murals of famous people from the city's past. A new series of murals are planned for 2008, bringing the total to 18, and among those will be one honoring author and former Haverhill resident John Bellairs.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An Edward Gorey Cover Bonanza

Edward Gorey
The Caustic Cover Critic combed through a cozy collection of covers created by celebrated ... oh, come on now, give it a break.  Part three of the site's Edward Gorey bonanza finally centers on covers (grr...) for the Bellairs series.  Judging from the crazy collection of comments a number of fans hoped Bellairs titles would be included in the cover critic's list this time around.

See ya.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Curse of the Sad Little Figurine

Sad little figurine
Stu Horvath tells the story of this image shared on Flickr, found in an antique store (where else) in the Brandywine River Valley:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

In Forms...and At Zoos...Imaginary

Morgan's Zoo
Writer and children's librarian Lisa Chellman writes about the devil's in the details when it comes to fictional things in Michigan:
When I was a kid, I never fully forgave James Howe for writing, in Morgan's Zoo, that one of the animals was to be shipped to the zoo in Kalamazoo. There was no zoo in Kalamazoo, as I knew darn well; the nearest zoo was in Battle Creek. My parents explained poetic license, but to me it was just wrong.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Best Punch Line in a Fantasy Book, Ever

What's the best punch line in a fantasy book? Jim Lehmer asks and answers himself, saying it's the following:

"Use the spell, fool."

This being the wisdom of wise-one Michael Scott from Bellairs's The Face in the Frost.

Good one, Jim.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Memoriam: Dody Goodman

Dody Goodman as Miss Eells
Dody Goodman, best known to contemporary audiences as the scatterbrained secretary in the Grease movies and in her role in the sitcom Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, died Sunday, June 22. She was 93.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Discovering Hoosac

by guest contributor, Ben McLeod:

When I was about nine or ten years old, in the very early 1980's, I checked out the Winona Public Library's copy of The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn. I probably took it back into the stacks, which is where I liked to curl up with creepy finds. But before you write this off as another fan's first-time discovery of Mr. Bellairs work, let me explain. I felt like Bastian in Michael Ende's The Neverending Story because as Anthony Monday wandered around the Hoosac Public Library, I began to think it was strangely familiar. As I read further and the novel's description of Hoosac developed, I came to realize that it was, in fact, Winona, Minnesota under a different name.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Under the Spell of Scary Stuff

John Bellairs
It’s nice - even if it is all these years later - to come across something new about John Bellairs. This week we were directed to Marilyn Stasio's article in the June 9, 1991 edition of the New York Times that gives some praise to the then recently-deceased author.

Plus we sort-of like the phrase "chiller-dillers" and welcome it back into polite society PDQ.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Something About Jamesian Inspirations

M. R. James
Knowing Bellairs was fond of the ghost stories of M. R. James has led a few people to send us their recommendations for similar tales.  What's your verdict?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bibliofile: Peter Smith Publishing

The Figure in the Shadows
No book collecting topic has been discussed more at Bellairsia and the Compleat Bellairs over the years than the fine art of tracking down the hardcover first edition copies of John and Brad’s books with the wraparound dust-jacket artwork by Edward Gorey and doing so without shelling out fistfuls of money in the process.