2021 ROUND-UP OF BOOKS by Robert Tanitch

2021 ROUND-UP OF BOOKS by Robert Tanitch


WILLIAM MORRIS edited by Anna Mason (Thames & Hudson / V&A) William Morris (1834-1896), poet, socialist, writer, manufacturer, designer, pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement, revolutionised the late Victorian interior. His artistic versatility is everywhere, paintings, drawings, stained glass, furniture, tiles, tableware, wallpaper, textiles, calligraphy and painting. This superbly illustrated book is wonderfully comprehensive.

WALTER CRANE by Jenny Uglow (Thames & Hudson). Walter Crane (1845-1915) was a leading spirit of the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movement; a powerful socialist artist concerned for workers welfare; and a supreme decorative illustrator of children’s books, nursery rhymes, fairy tales and toy books. He mixed real life and fantasy in bright frank colours and striking black and white images. Beautiful.

BATTLES MAP BY MAP from the ancient world to the 21st century (Dorling Kindersley). From Thermopylae to Desert Storm and including Salamis, Actium, Hastings, Agincourt, Fall of Constantinople, Spanish Armada, Trafalgar, Waterloo, Gettysburg, Gallipoli, Verdun, Passchendaele, Dunkirk, Pearl Harbour, Iwo Jima and Stalingrad. Impressive.

THE NATURAL HISTORY BOOK (Dorling Kindersley). The ultimate visual guide to everything on earth: living earth, minerals, rocks, fossils, microscopic life, plants, fungi and animals, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals. Massively illustrated in great detail, it’s a great reference book for the whole family

HARLOTS, WHORES & HACKABOUTS. A History of Sex for Sale by Kate Lister (Thames & Hudson). This fascinating history of courtesans, prostitutes and sex workers in different countries from the ancient world to the present-day records changing attitudes to sexual morality and the treatment of women, who led brutal lives of poverty, abuse and disease. Government efforts over the centuries to clean up have invariably failed. The text is informative, sympathetic, factual and not salacious. There is an excellent selection of paintings and archival photographs.


THE STORY OF THE COUNTRY HOUSE by Clive Aslet (Yale) is a History of Places & People: Belvoir Castle, Chatsworth House, Blenheim, Castle Howard, Strawberry Hill, Balmoral Castle and many more. This useful little book is for all those who love visiting country houses and it will, surely, encourage many more to become regular visitors.

OUTDOOR EUROPE (Dorling Kindersley). Walking in Croatia, ice-skating in Switzerland, canoeing in Northern Ireland, climbing in Sicily, scuba diving in Italy, mudbathing in Bulgaria, sailing in Sweden, wild camping in Dartmoor, bird watching in Denmark, kayaking in France, surfing in Cornwall, mountaineering in Russia, ice swimming in Iceland, snorkelling in Croatia. How are you going to spend your holiday?

THE SKY by Helene Druvert. Text by Juliette Einhorn (Thames & Hudson). This large-format book, pleasantly illustrated, filled with laser cuts and flaps throughout, takes readers on a journey up, up and away through the clouds with bags of atmosphere, birds, eclipses, moon and allows plenty of time to star-gaze.


AFFAIR OF THE HEART by Michael Billington (Methuen/Drama). Michael Billington is the most influential theatre critic since Kenneth Tynan and Harold Hobson and this volume covers theatre from 1992 to 2020. His reviews, authoritative and always very readable, are an invaluable record for theatre lovers and theatre historians.

PICK A POCKET OR TWO by Ethan Morden (Oxford). A History of British Musical Theatre. from John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera to Gilbert and Sullivan, and on to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, David Heneker’s Half a Sixpence, Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend and Joan Littlewood’s Oh What A Lovely War.

THE ROYAL BALLET IN 2020 (Bloomsbury). This illustrated companion, capturing the productions and disruptions before, during and after lockdown will please balletomanes very much.


THE OXFORD COMPANION TO SPIRITS & COCKAILS edited by David Wondrich with Noah Rothbaum (Oxford University Press). Seasoned imbibers, boozers, quaffers and alcoholics please take note: here is the first major reference work to cover the subject globally. Inebriating, intoxicating, it will definitely keep your spirits up.

HIGHLY IRREGULAR by Arika Okrent (Oxford) addresses many oddities of the English language, such as, why Tough, Through and Dough don’t rhyme? Why do we pronounce and spell words the way we do? Informative, insightful, the book will appeal to all those who love the English language and its quirks.

A SMALL BOOK OF JEWISH COMEDIANS by Bobby Slayton and Tony Nourmand (RAP) This stocking filler offers quips and photographs. Who are your favourite Jewish comedians? Do you know who said “I wake up in the morning and read the obituary column. If my name’s not there, I eat breakfast”? I

JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR by Cold War Steve (Thames & Hudson) is a series of photographs satirizing recent political events and Boris Johnson in particular. Each photograph is a collage of images and part of the fun is identifying the painting which inspired Steve and identifying the people, venue and objects in it. The satire is in the Hogarth, Gilray, Cruickshank tradition.

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