Thursday, 29 January 2015
Clothes in Books: 3rd Birthday
It’s three years this week since I started the blog. Major moments since the last birthday include:
1) continuing to blog regularly for Guardian books – click on the tab above to see the list of articles. Topics this year included wedding dresses, dinner parties, shoes, nuns and bad character names.
2) CiB favourite Samantha Ellis not only wrote one of the best books of 2014 - How to be a Heroine – but also said that CiB combined ‘impeccable research & epic frivolity'. She was specifically talking about the stockings and nylons piece for the Guardian, but I’d like to think it might be the Clothes in Books motto.
3) The usual high quality April Fool entry – this time featuring a favourite author and a particularly fine picture. And there was a new feature of lists, from best Agatha Christies to Books like I Capture the Castle. There was Poison Pen week, there were guest bloggers, there were obituary entries.
But as ever the main highlights have been the pictures, so I thought I’d revisit some of the best ones of the year.
Over the year I looked at a lot of books by and about Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis. This amazing picture of the young Violet,used for this entry from her letters, where she remembers her youth, became the most viewed, RT-ed and shared picture in the history of the blog, beating out even the famous corset shop image, the previous winner. More than 4000 people looked at it over the course of a couple of days.
This picture from the Imperial War Museum is my favourite of all the pictures I have used on the blog. I used it to illustrate John Banville’s The Newton Letter: it’s a picture of a Land Girl. The IWM generously allows blogs to reproduce images under a CC licence, but I like this one so much that I paid for a print to be made, and it now hangs on my wall.
Sometimes I get all pleased with myself because I think the picture is an exceptionally good match for the book. The picture at the top of this entry is for Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide – I’d been looking for the right image for the whole life of the blog. The one below miraculously works for Christie’s Mystery of the Blue Train AND Nancy Mitford’s Pursuit of Love – see entry here.
And I was delighted with this for Ned Beauman’s Teleportation Accident:
Here we illustrate exactly & gruesomely the manner of death in PD James’s Shroud for a Nightingale:
I loved these folk-dancing girls, IWM again, ideal for Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes:
And I found this picture in the early blog days, and finally found exactly the right book for it: Murder a la Mode by Patricia Moyes:
---in the notes on the entry there’s a really splendid combination of trainspotting and fashion.
Clothes in Books has – of course – a favourite couture milliner (doesn’t everyone?) and it is Lilly Dache. This picture of Lilly working is considered to be a dead ringer for CiB hard at work choosing images for the blog, while wearing a jaunty hat indoors:
Though on good days, after a particularly good blogging session, or a successful search for the right photo, the CiB office can look more like this:
As ever, I want to thank two groups of people: the fellow-bloggers, readers and commentators who make this such fun – you know who you are. You recommend books to me, and even send them to me, you read my posts, share them, chat to me and have become good friends.
And also the countless individuals and organizations who so generously share their photos on the web – every single day I find something astonishing, beautiful or affecting, and I hope, wherever you are, you feel I might have done justice to your pictures, and shared them to a wider audience in a respectful spirit.