A man of Enlightenment rigor and Romantic sensibility, Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) drew animals from life, accurate in every detail of every feather. Yet he also captured the attitude and idiosyncrasies of his subjects. Truly Nature’s Engraver (Univ. of Chicago, $18), he had as sharp an eye for village life, and his witty vignettes of fishermen, travelers, laundresses, and children show his expertise as an engraver of human nature. Illustrated with scores of prints from Bewick’s History of Quadrupeds, History of British Birds, and his edition of Aesop’s Fables, Jenny Uglow’s masterful and beautiful life of the printer portrays his times as well. Uglow is a knowledgeable and engaging guide to the unsettled politics of the era, the apprentice system, the business end of Bewick’s engraving workshop, the tools and techniques of woodblock printing, and the way Bewick revived a fading craft so thoroughly he turned it into an art.

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374112363
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 12th, 2007

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226823911
Availability: Backordered
Published: University of Chicago Press - May 15th, 2009

Germaine Greer has taken on the “bardolaters” in Shakespeare’s Wife (Harper Perennial, $14.99), her exquisitely researched book about Ann Hathaway, Shakespeare’s oft misrepresented spouse. Greer counters the frequent assumptions that Shakespeare hated his wife; that she, an older woman, used pregnancy to manipulate him into marriage; and that she was a plain, boring woman with no skills or interests of her own. Greer’s meticulous research fails to prove anything definitive about Hathaway and Shakespeare’s relationship except that the work of Shakespearean academicians has left “a wife-sized hole” in his biography, one often filled with baseless conjectures and misogynistic presumptions. In examining Hathaway’s life, Greer elaborates on wider Elizabethan customs and social mores and allows us to fill in the gaps regarding the couple’s relationship. Shakespearean scholars aren’t the only ones who will love this book; anyone looking for a thorough account of women’s lives in Elizabethan England will find it engrossing.

Shakespeare's Wife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061537165
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - March 17th, 2009

Alex Von Tunzelmann’s marvelous book, Indian Summer (Picador, $18), tells a little-known story about the importance of the relationship between Lady Edwina Mountbatten, wife of the last Viceroy of India, and Nehru, India’s leader in the final stages of India’s Independence movement. Louis Mountbatten, obsessed with rank and privilege, was an ineffective naval officer but perfect for the task of taking Britain out of India. His wife barely tolerated him, but she loved India.  She and Nehru completely adored each other. He confided in her and admired her energy and devotion to India. Von Tunzelmann uses the relationship as the hook, but the reader will learn a great deal about the struggle for Indian independence in 1947. Von Tunzelmann is keenly aware of the legacy of colonialism—how it infantilized hundreds of millions of poor people and pitted them against each other. Nehru was a brilliant, charismatic leader who had a strong moral code; he believed that Muslims and Hindus (and many others) could live together. There were too many others, however, who were determined to separate.

Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312428112
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Picador - September 30th, 2008