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18 June 2021
A year and a half ago Raymond Briggs published a new book. Time for Lights Out is about old age, or rather it's about getting older. Something that happens to all of us, to some at Persephone Books more than to others. This is another work of genius, essential reading for anyone over 70, Persephone readers younger than that can save it until they reach that milestone. It's not enough to say chapeau! to Raymond Briggs. He should be recognised as one of the absolute greats. Here is Justine Jordan's interview with him when he published Time for Lights Out.
17 June 2021
Raymond Briggs's parents also inspired 'the shockingly apocalyptic When the Wind Blows (1982). This harrowing story, written during renewed Cold War tensions, satirised the dire state of Britain;s nuclear contingency planning. Jim builds a useless bomb shelter following official government advice, but to no avail: a nuclear strike sees the couple die slow and painful deaths from radiation poisoning' (Art Quarterly).
16 June 2021
Ethel and Ernest was also made into an unmissable film, here is the trailer. We shall show it in the shop, or rather the Parlour, this winter.
15 June 2021
Ethel and Ernest is Raymond Briggs's 'most emotional and tender work. A mix of comedy and tragedy, it is filled with the working-class couple's perspective on subjects spanning politics and class, to education and sex, all set against a background of world events, societal shifts and technological developments. No wonder the book is used in schools as a chronicle of twentieth-century life. It is also an autobiography of sorts, full of personal memories and recollections' (David Trigg in the summer 2021 Art Quarterly). In fact Ethel and Ernest is a great novel and one day will br universally recognised as such.
14 June 2021
An exhibition has just opened in Winchester (it is on until 18 August, details here), curated by Nicolette Jones and lent by the House of Illustration, about the life and work of Raymond Briggs. His Ethel and Ernest (1998) would be one of our desert island books and naturally we sell it in the shop. For those who haven't read it, it tells the story of Briggs's parents from 1928 to 1971; Ethel and Ernest is a great and enduring classic and an unforgettable homage to parenthood and to qualities like decency, good nature, 'mustn't grumble', uncomplaining hard work, attributes that we used to think of, proudly, as British but in the last four years our belief system has been destroyed.
11 June 2021
So whenever we use the word 'blueprint' we must think of Anna Atkins and her extraordinary, quiet achievement. And maybe we should have a wall papered in her honour, and in honour of the extraordinary, quiet but revolutionary achievements of women everywhere. The wallpaper is available here. (And the chair can be seen in the shop! Naturally, it's from John Lewis.)
10 June 2021
This is Alaria esculenta (1848–49) from Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, now recognised as the first ever photographically illustrated book.