Friday, 31 May 2013

The Bookish and the Bizarre

Returning to bookish matters, here`s something pretty much guaranteed to interest, entertain, amuse and amaze the ardent bibliophile ;

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Return of Sexton Blake

One of my many enthusiasms and pet obsessions is the fictional detective Sexton Blake.

Blake was created by 19th century writer Harry Blyth, using the pen-name Hal Meredeth (sic). The first Blake story was The Missing Millionaire, which appeared in a short story magazine, The Halfpenny Marvel, during December 1893.

Blyth/Meredeth apparently sold the rights to his creation and Sexton appeared in numerous publications including The Union Jack, Detective Weekly, The Penny Pictorial and, of course, The Sexton Blake Library.  Blake was not the `property` of any one writer and this meant the series could continue and indeed evolve and adapt over an unusually long period of time. The SBL itself ran  from `I don`t know when`  until 1963, when publishers  Fleetway pulled the plug, though there were occasional reincarnations of the celebrated sleuth, notably the book and TV show Sexton Blake and the Demon God (1978).

As a long-standing fan I was of course delighted to learn recently that Obverse Books have been in touch with copyright holders IPC and have acquired a license to produce a new, re-invigorated Sexton Blake Library.

I am all the more pleased because  Obverse main man Stuart Douglas is something of a Blake buff himself and acknowledges that the new project will fulfill "a long-standing personal ambition to bring the longest-running detective series in literary history back to life."

The new SBL will commence with a new example of Sextonian sleuthing, penned by Nottingham-based writer George Mann*, combined in one volume with a reprint of a classic Blake tale from between the wars.

Mann confesses himself to have been "an avid devotee of Sexton Blake for many years" which is all to the good.

While we await the next exciting instalment, I thought I`d wet your appetite with images of cover art from the original SBL, all drawn from my own collection. 

If you`re feeling philosophical, you may want to reflect on the way in which the artwork evolved to reflect changing times. Or you may just want to enjoy the pictures.

 I favour the latter myself.

On the web ;

Obverse Books -

George Mann -

Sexton Blake -

* Trivia Corner ; the modern George Mann will in fact be the second writer of that name to contribute to the SBL. `Arthur Maclean` who wrote a number of  Blake stories in the early `60s (see picture number 3 above) was in fact a pseudonym of writer George Paul Mann. In addition to his own contributions, GPM was also sometimes paid to revise stories by other writers which for one reason or another did not meet with the editor`s complete approval.  

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

John Severn (John A Severn)

I had never heard of Nottingham man John Severn, a man for whom conservation was something of a passion,  until last week, when I came across his obituary  in the course of my work.

I always have a soft spot for life`s enthusiasts, and I was interested to learn of his project with local charity Family First, utilising the abilities of the unemployed to restore buildings in the grounds of Wollaton Hall.

In case others also find his life and work interesting, here is said obituary ;

Small Charities Week 2013

Just time for an all-too-hasty plug for this year`s Small Charities Week, which will take place 17 - 22 June 2013.

Further info ;

Monday, 6 May 2013

This Month`s Good Cause- May 2013 - Anti Slavery (Anti slavery International)

Having started with the `This Month`s Good Cause` malarkey, I`ve decided to introduce another element, which is that, as much as possible,  the causes chosen will be a mix of national, local and international causes*.

With that in mind, this month`s good cause is Anti Slavery (Anti Slavery International).

Founded in 1839, Anti Slavery, which has been known by a number of different names,  is the world`s oldest international human rights organisation and the only charity in the UK to work solely on the issue of forced labour and related matters.

The group is quite thoughtful in it`s approach - unlike some others it does not normally advocate consumer boycotts, acknowledging that they can under some circumstances make things worse for the vey people the group aims to protect. It does sometimes put pressure on major corporations to clean up their supply chain.

If you`re interested to know more about the group`s work, click here ;

Among it`s other activities, the group annually presents the Anti Slavery Award to groups or individuals that have played a major part in combating modern forms of slavery.

Inevitably, their list of past award winners is a useful introduction to the major campaigning groups in the field worldwide ;

 The group`s American sister organisation is Free The Slaves ( ) , and their award scheme is the Freedom Awards ( ).

*This Month`s Good Causes - previous months

April 2013 - Derbyshire Blood Bikes (
March 2013 - Brake (