Friday, December 20, 2013

Time Capsule: Imaginary Worlds (1973)

This year not only marks the fortieth year of The House with a Clock in it Walls (as has been noted throughout the blog’s last twelve months) but also of Imaginary Worlds: the Art of Fantasy, the study of the modern literary fantasy genre authored by Lin Carter (1930-88).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Where's There: Mount Palomar Observatory

It is said Lewis would one day work as an astronomer at this California observatory [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 120].

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Anna Holmes: In the Mind of a 10-Year-Old

We’ve received more than a few alerts to the December 8 edition of the New York Times Sunday Review and the brief interview with Anna Holmes, the founder and editor of the online magazine/blog, Jezebel – known for, the NYT says, its smart and snarky feminist content. Holmes goes through some of her interests in the form of what she’s following, listening [to], and wearing – and for reading she heaps plenty of praise on John’s work:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The First Book To Terrify Me

Jenn's Bookshelf blog has a guest post from Belle Wong, owner of, that discusses - as the title of the post says - the first book to terrify me. Belle cites Bellairs' The House with a Clock in its Walls and remembers reading the Yearling paperback's tagline ("The thing was ticking away, marking off the minutes until doomsday") and the cover being the "scariest cover out of any book I’d ever read up until then."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BiblioFile: The House with a Clock in its Walls (1995)

In 1995 The House with a Clock in its Walls – as well as four other titles – was released in audiobook format by Recorded Books, LLC. The unabridged novel was read across either three audio cassettes or four compact discs for upwards of four-and-a-half hours of listening excitement. Telling the story is acclaimed award-winning narrator and actor George Guidall who has has recorded over 900 unabridged novels that have favorably earned reviews from Audiofile, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, and a variety of national newspapers and magazines.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Spooks, Character, and Place

Justin Glanville is both the president of the Munchen, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and a fan of John Bellairs. Well, that’s not quite right – he’s not so much the president as he is the town’s co-creator.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Time Capsule: November 22, 1963

Friday, November 22, 1963: The Tea House at the corner of West 17th and Gould Streets on the campus of the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, Minnesota. That’s what the late Norbert Geier remembered.

We’ve met numerous people over the years here at Bellairsia, mostly sharing memories of John and his life and times. Sometimes the stories recall momentous events – the publication of a book or the news of a chance encounter – but often than not they are just anecdotes of what was happening a generation or two ago. This story is a bit of both.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What’s What: Muggins Simoon

Jonathan Barnavelt's automobile; a 1935 model, described as "a big black car with running boards and a windshield that could be cranked open" [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 94].

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

BiblioFile: 壁のなかの時計 (2001)

Of all the editions of The House with a Clock in its Walls we’ve reviewed this year, this is the one version we can’t read. At all. We don’t speak or read French or German but we’re able to thumb through books in those languages and still get a feel for where we are story-wise. Not with this yellow-bound beauty from Artist House. We’re totally lost with a book printed in Japan. More so, in Japanese.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Autumnal Genius Of John Bellairs

Grady Hendrix at writes about the nostalgia that this time of year brings to mind: burning autumn leaves on an overcast day, a static-filled radio station playing Brylcreem advertisements, a scratchy wool blanket ... it's the nostalgia of John Bellairs:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Interview: Irwin Terry

Irwin Terry authors the Goreyana blog and creates stained glass windows in his spare time (or vicey versa) – including this gem recreating the image seen on the just-jacket of The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost that he donated to an Edward Gorey House auction back in 2010. When we last left Irwin he was giving us his top five illustrations from The House with a Clock in its Walls and discussing how he came to be a collector of Edward Gorey’s original artwork. This time around we chat about some Bellairs and Gorey collaborations.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Who’s Who: Emmanuel de Grouchy

One of Jonathan’s illusions of famous scenes from the past includes a version of the Battle of Waterloo where the French won; setting the scene to his nephew, Jonathan says this French general was sent to keep the Prussian general Blücher busy [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 79].

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Young Adult Books That Changed Our Lives

This week the CNN Living Staff published an article entitled Young Adult Books That Changed Our Lives.  Said staff "posed the question to members of the CNN Digital newsroom to find out which books have stuck with them since adolescence. To even things out, we sought input from the millennials in the newsroom, too." The published list includes some Judy Blume, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Louise Fitzhugh's nearing fifty Harriet the Spy - plus The Face in the Frost, The House With a Clock in Its Walls, and - of all things - The Chessmen of Doom:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

BiblioFile: The House with a Clock in its Walls: A Study Guide

We’ve heard a handful of stories about John’s work being used in the classroom, everything from projects based on the books being presented by students to teachings introducing historical topics based on some of the stories. In 1994, Thomas J. Palumbo wrote Integrating the Literature of John Bellairs in the Classroom, and John’s life and work were the subject of a master’s thesis in 2011. Back in 1992 someone put together an entire workbook based on one book.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Interview: Shelia Foley

In 2007 the Haverhill Mural Project installed six outdoor murals on downtown historical buildings that depict the rich history and culture of that city. The following year project supervisors invited more professional artists the opportunity to create additional murals for inclusion as part of a downtown walking tour. Five years ago this month artist Shelia Foley unveiled her mural honoring John Bellairs and five years on we reconnect with Shelia to discuss this and some of her other artistic endeavors.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Researching Mary Zimmerman Again

With this year being the fortieth anniversary of The House with a Clock in its Walls we thought we’d revisit again the life and times of Mary Holoubek Zimmerman. Does that name sound almost familiar but not quite right? It should. Here’s some of our initial research from a decade ago.

Off-and-on this year we’ve dug back into the trenches for grins to see if anything new could be found. We did feel a bit foolish at the get-go of the hunt if only because we realized that we have had a street address for her all these years. Sort of. During our initial research a decade ago, the fine folks at the Wisconsin Historical Society sent us what amounts to an autobiographical sketch that includes her birth (Chicago; September 18, 1905), martial status (wife of Louis P. Zimmerman, married 1934), children (two), and an address.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Where's There: University of Göttingen

We learn that Mrs. Zimmermann earned a D. Mag. A. degree (Doctor Magicorum Artium) from the University of Göttingen in Germany in back 1922 [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 34].

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time Capsule: The First Fidgettine Phenomenon

We’re celebrating a half-century since the first miraculous Fidgettine vision!

It was fifty years ago this year...when exactly we’re not quite clear...that John Bellairs began frequenting the apartment of his friends, Dale and Marilyn Fitschen. Both John and Dale were taking classes at the nearby University of Chicago, with Bellairs plodding along in pursuit of his doctorate in literature and pounding out pages of his dissertation.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

BiblioFile: La Pendola Magica (1975)

Of all the foreign editions of The House with a Clock in its Walls we have seen over the years it’s been the two initial Italian outings that have always had the most mystique to us - in part because they’re almost as old as the original American edition. Aside from some one-off outings from Germany and England in the late-1970s, when we began The Dullard’s Bane back in 2001 all the major foreign editions of House that existed were from Italy – making it the first country to publish John’s novels outside the United States. Italy kept at it, too, as we’ve seen close to a half-dozen different covers dating from between the 1970s through the 1990s. It would seem then our website began about the time there was a rise in new translations, with House soon appearing in Polish, Japanese, Serbian, and French. We wish we could take credit for it but let us not be silly.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 Living History Portrayal Walk

For the thirteenth year in a row ... lucky number 13 ... Marshall, Michigan’s Oakridge Cemetery will conjure up the ghosts of so many years ago with the annual "If These Stones Could Talk..." tour. Visitors will learn about a handful of significant people from Marshall's past by actors portraying the deceased at their grave site. Small groups will be guided by hosts in a predetermined lantern-illuminated pattern through the cemetery and the once-prominent residents will rise up and share their stories.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Time Capsule: September 1, 1993

September 1, 1993: We’re pleased to be continuing the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Brad Strickland’s association with John Bellairs’ characters and in particular the two decades since The Vengeance of the Witch-finder was published.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Collecting the First Edition Library Issue of House

Book collector Russ Bernard leads the book collecting discussions at our fan forum (the appropriately named The Books, the Covers, and the Collectors group) and he’s been on a mission for quite some time to find a first library edition of The House with a Clock in its Walls. It’s for a project that he’s piecing together – he’s shared some of it with us and it’s a compelling theory – but he needs some assistance in finalizing it.

"I am trying to find a copy to use for comparison between the various issues of the first printings of House, and I have copies of other issues but still need this regular library issue for comparison."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

BiblioFile: O Fantasma No Espelho

We mentioned earlier in the year that 2013 marks 20 years since The Ghost in the Mirror was published. We were looking at the book’s history recently, recalling something that had bugged us once in the past, and thought we’d ask the, our Brazil about this one.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

BiblioFile: Luis Barnavelt i zegar czarnoksiężnika

Yes, it’s time to uncover another zwariowany cover from the collection of Polish editions in the Lewis Barnavelt series. Keeping up this year's theme we’re going to take a quick peek at Luis Barnavelt i zegar czarnoksiężnika.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What’s What: Washington Elm

We’ve received a number of interesting inquiries about John’s life and work over the years and one particular question about a tree pops up once every so often.  Perceptive readers of the original Dial edition of The House with a Clock in its Walls will recall the rear flap of the dust jacket that notes John was living in Haverhill with his family, "a grandfather clock, and a piece of the elm tree under which George Washington took command of the American army."

Sounds like a rather impressive souvenir right? Like every good story, however, there is both fact and fiction surrounding this tree.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

50th Annual Historic Home Tour

The 50th Annual Historic Home Tour of Marshall, Michigan features eight of the city's most outstanding privately owned homes, as well as an historic church and the city's best-known museums: Honolulu House, Walters Gasoline Museum, American Museum of Magic, GAR Hall, DAR Governor's Mansion, the Calhoun County Fair Museums, Maple Grove Church and School, and the Capitol Hill School.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Interview: Charles Pieper

It’s been a couple of years now but we first encountered Charles Pieper when we read that he’d written a screenplay for The Curse of the Blue Figurine. You know – just for fun. We thought we’d check in with him after all these years and were surprised to learn just how busy he’s been. Since we’ve talked Pieper has studied film at Emerson, FAMU in Prague, and CalArts; become a director, stop motion animator, editor, and monster maker; directed music videos for numerous of bands (with names such as Brit and the Cavalry, Dufus, Quitzow, and YesMisterBloodVessel, plus scores more); and had his animations and films shown in festivals in cities as varied as New York City, Seattle, Toronto, Poland, Madrid, Kiev, and Tokyo. Oh, and Kentucky, too. On top of all that he’s taken some time out this summer to chat with us.  He's the one on the right.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

See Thy Nero Shine

We’re a bit slow in our spring cleaning this year. Only recently did we undertake some minor website clean-up as well as some cleaning out the email account’s inbox. One item we found was a September 2003 email from Ms. Tracey Siddle who at the time was working toward an MA at Sheffield Hallam University.
For one of my units, we are doing ‘Editing a Renaissance Play’ and my choice is the anonymous Tragedy of Nero (1624.) Whilst scrolling around I noticed that this is the same topic that Mr Bellairs did his Doctoral Thesis on. I would subsequently be extremely grateful for any information proferred or if you could even direct me to a copy of the thesis so that I might glean what insight I can.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The 1950's in Winona

Minnesota author Kent Stever has published his first book, Growing Up on the Mississippi: the 1950's in Winona, MN. We doubt he had any run-ins with Anthony Monday but you never know. has an article about his August reading and some information on the book:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Who’s Who: John Dee

After moving into his uncle’s house Lewis Barnavelt spends time going through a lot of books, including one whose frontispiece is an engraving of this person raising the spirit of a dead woman [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 67-8].

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book News: Glades Heist

The fourth book in Ken McKea’s Jim Dallas series was released July 3:

BiblioFile: La Pendule d'Halloween

The House with a Clock in its Walls was first translated pour françaises in 2001 when it was published by Editions du Rocher Jeunesse. There it was known as La Pendule d'Halloween (The Halloween Pendulum), which is not a bad title – we get the gist of what the publisher was going for – but there’s something missing. The cadence of the original words and the comes-across-as-mundane-but-actually-isn’t mentality seems lost on the French readers.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Let Thee Play The Scribe

Mark Dery is looking for help transcribing interviews with Edward Gorey for the biography he is working on about Gorey.  The stint is unpaid, but could be a good opportunity for one of you out there:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Time Capsule: June 23, 1973

June 23, 1973: Forty years ago today The House with a Clock in its Walls was published. That’s roughly 1,261,440,000 seconds ago – but who’s counting?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where’s There: Barnavelt House

The residence at 100 High Street in New Zebedee, Michigan is the home of Jonathan Barnavelt and his nephew, Lewis, who moves to the house in the summer of 1948 [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 3].

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

BiblioFile: The House with a Clock in its Walls (1973)

The Goreyana blog has been – and continues to be – a great source for information about collecting the artwork of Edward Gorey. Back in 2009 the blog’s author, Irwin Terry, began a series of posts about the artwork Gorey created for the books by John Bellairs and those completed and continued by Brad Strickland. It took about two years to get through it all but in the end there was some splendid insights shared into a side of the books many were not familiar with. All said, Irwin was at the top of our list of people we wanted to hear from about which of Gorey's interior artwork created for the original edition of House was the best.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Conflicting Elements Exposed in Curse

Not long ago we were going through the archives and found some of Brad Strickland’s notes on inconsistencies and other tidbits in The Doom of the Haunted Opera. Since then we’ve come across some of our internal notes we took on oddities in The Curse of the Blue Figurine (1983). The book turns 30 this year (this month, no less) and we thought we’d share some of our notes on some of the “screwy moments” we found.

Monday, May 20, 2013

BiblioFile: Das Haus das ticket (1977)

House was published in Germany as Das Haus das ticket and is described on the back cover of that book as being, “Ein spiritistisch-komischer Gruselroman mit richtigen Hexen and Zauberen unserer Zeit.” (“A spiritualist-comic horror novel with real witches and magicians of our time.”)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What’s What: Doomsday Clock

A device hidden in the walls of the Barnavelt House that, when wound properly, will bring about the End of the World [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 133-6].

Friday, May 10, 2013

Interview: Irwin Terry

We were surprised in the fall of 2008 to discover Goreyana, a blog detailing one person's collection of artwork by author and illustrator Edward Gorey.  We were even more surprised when a few years later that blog began a series of posts highlighting the artwork Gorey created for the books by John Bellairs and Brad Strickland.   Irwin Terry is the main behind Goreyana as well as the co-owner of Century Studios, a stained glass studio in St. Paul, Minnesota where he and partner Bill Campbell specialize in the creation of museum quality reproductions of Tiffany Lamps.  Raised in Wisconsin (hey - Lewis Barnavelt’s old stomping grounds!), Terry attended college at the Philadelphia College of Art, and completed his BFA at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.  Terry and Campbell collect children’s literature and original illustration artwork, with a special emphasis on Edward Gorey, the Oz book series, and illustrator John R. Neill.

This is the first in a series of interviews with Irwin.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Time Capsule: May 1, 1983

May 1, 1983: We’re celebrating thirty years of evil charms, disappearing priests, strange spiders, and – of course – the ushabti.  Dial Books published The Curse of the Blue Figurine on May 1, 1983 – thirty years ago today – and ushered in a whole new slew of characters and locations of John’s.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

BiblioFile: House/Ghost Flip Book (2002, Puffin)

Whoever said two books are better than one probably meant well. Then someone came up with tête-bêche and quite possibly blew the mind of that original person.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Strickland on The Life of Eddie Carroll

News from the University of North Georgia on Brad Strickland's new book, Wishing on a Star: The Life of Eddie Carroll, a biography of actor Eddie Carroll:

2013 Edward Gorey House Exhibition

The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts opened their newest season on Thursday, April 18, with an exhibit celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Vinegar Works.  Published by Simon and Schuster in 1963, the three volume set (billed by Gorey as "Three Volumes of Moral Instruction") contains The Insect God, The West Wing, and what is probably Gorey's best known and most quoted abecedarian exercise, The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

From Amy to Zillah and Basil to Yorick and everyone in between (including Neville), the book has never gone out of print and the children have turned up on everything from posters and calendars to t-shirts and no shirts.

The Edward Gorey House will celebrate these three remarkable books with exhibits containing original artwork and manuscripts throughout the rest of the year.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Who’s Who: David Rizzio

Before bed, Lewis reads Stoddard’s account of the murder of this member of the Scottish court [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 19].

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seek Him With Candleshoe

Candleshoe was on somebody-or-other’s movie channel recently and it sounded harmless enough that I thought I’d give it a whirl.  I’m glad I did because it reminded me very much of The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn – both the book and the television special.  (And if you’ve seen that television special you know there’s not much out there that will make you want to remember it.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Time Capsule: April 5, 1993

April 5, 1993: We’re pleased to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Ghost in the Mirror this month - not just the celebrated return of Lewis Barnavelt and Rose Rita Pottinger but the debut of Brad Strickland’s association with the series, too.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Alternate Histories in Children’s Literature

An email appeared late last week regarding an entry at the Academic Call For Paper Database seeking scholarly papers on the subject of alternate history in the children’s literature genre:
Historical fiction as a genre within children’s and young adult literature has been traditionally viewed by some as unpopular. Alternate History is fiction where something has changed in the historical timeline: take a known and tweak it. The resulting story can be about that change or the backdrop for a story, where the “what if” is less about the Changed World Event and more how that Changed World Event changed the world, people, culture and their points of view. It can also be great fun for the person who is familiar with the history, to find references to famous people, places, and things that are now just a bit different.