Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Lorna Doone and Exmoor

Some of you may know that I work for a friend who owns a bookstore, usually one day a week.  That's about to end soon but that's another story.  Besides waiting on customers and filling internet orders it falls to my lot to enter books and their descriptions on ABE, the Advanced Book Exchange.  For those of you who might not know, this is a listing of the inventories of over 9,000 second hand book dealers.  Once in a while there falls into the stack  from which I work a book which gets my special attention.  Today was such a day.
A copy of R.D. Blackmore's Lorna Doone.  It was published by Harpers in 1903.  It contained something like 44 black-and-white photographs.  It had no dust jacket but a wonderful illustrated cover and spine very much like the designs of William Morris, the English designer and craftsman.  The book is not a first edition nor is it particularly expensive, listed at only $22.
Lorna Doone has been one of my favorite books for a long time.  Along with Stevenson's Treasure Island and Rudyard Kipling's Kim, it's a book I need to read every few years.  What is the attraction, you ask?  On our very first trip to England in 1971 we tried to see everything.  Who knew when we would ever be back.  So it was pretty much a trip on the dead run.  One evening, after a day spent touring up the west coast of Cornwall, we found ourselves in the town of Lynton in Devon.  The owner of the B&B in which we found lodging recommended that we see the moor, Exmoor.  The next day we drove out to the moor, sampling its vastness, its quiet and its solitude, visiting Oare Church where we read that John Ridd and Lorna were married and John was shot by Carver Doone.  Well, I had to read the book.
When we returned to England two years later I told my wife that we must spend at least five days exploring Exmoor.  And we have spent at least five days every trip since.   There have been twelve.  So I guess we've spent nearly two months on Exmoor.  The photographs in the book I was handling are photos of places used by Blackmore in the novel; Dulverton, Porlock, the Cheese Ring near Lynton, Lynmouth with The Rising Sun Hotel, and of course, the Water Slide and Doone Valley.  We've hiked into the isolated and hidden Doone Valley several times.
Funny thing.  Blackmore was an extremely popular writer and his books were printed in the tens of thousands.  Yet these days they are hard to come by.  Lorna Doone is readily available in many editions, including paperback.  But I've only been able to acquire Perlycross, Springhaven, and The Maid of Sker.  When I've asked proprietors of book stores in England they always say, "we have a waiting list.  Would you like us to put your name on it?"  Anyway, it was joy to handle the book.  Did I buy it?  After all, I get a 20% discount.  No.  I already have three copies, one bound in fiull parchment, with many, many steel engraved illustrations.  And this one had much too fine print for these old eyes.


Blogger Bill said...

Have you ever seen the 1951 movie with Richard Greene and Barbara Hale? I saw it when I was about 10 years old and loved it. Haven't seen it since, so I don't know if it's really any good or not.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Anne said...

Do you know anything about the version of Lorna Doone that has no date of when it was published? The company was Rand, McNally. I just found this treasure and wanted to know more about it. I found your blog in researching the history behind my book. I have the first volume. I read the book and was puzzled about how it ended. Found the second book and wanted to know more. My first volume is white with a green imprint of a young man and woman and in gold letters is the title of the book and author. I would love to know more about this book.

6:25 PM  

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