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Biography/ autobiography

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  • The Amazing Mr Doolittle [Biography of American Air Ace and Daredevil] – Quentin Reynolds – 1954

    The Amazing Mr Doolittle [Biography of American Air Ace and Daredevil] – Quentin Reynolds – 1954

    A very good copy of the second impression of the first UK edition published in June 1954 one month after the first.

    Published by Cassell, London. Octavo, 313 pages, frontispiece of our Hero.

    Biography of the great American Air Ace. The front cover boldly list his achievements .. some would be less bold nowadays .. that’s history.

    His early flights is our bag though, and this ace started early in the 1920’s .. winner of the Schneider Trophy and a true daredevil .. where are they now? He was the first to fly on instruments alone, cross America etc.

    Doolittle, Not talking to the Animals, flying the Aeroplanes.


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  • The Fountain Overflows – Rebecca West – 1957

    The Fountain Overflows – Rebecca West – 1957

    An early edition of this important work by Rebecca West published by MacMillan, London and nominated a “Book society choice” – a March 1957 edition after the January 1957 First.

    Octavo, 392 pages, very good condition, a trifle marked on the page edges.

    Rebecca West the nom de plume of Dame Cicily Isabel Fairfield was named by the Times as the best female writer of the 20thC.

    She maybe is even more famous for her lengthy romance with HG Wells despite his 27 years on her of his already marriage. They had a child, Anthony west, who also became a writer. He wrote a fictionalised biography of HG Wells that did not show Rebecca (or Cicily) in a good light … they never spoke again; and it was worse than that.

    The Fountain Overflows can be understood from the Blake quote on the title page … “The cistern contains: the fountain overflows”. Essentially and autobiographically inspired novel concerning the Aubrey family in the first decade of the 20th Century.

    Later Rebecca west would write two further extensions … one published posthumously. She lived then in a large apartment overlooking Hyde Park. Unfortunately, next to the Iranian Embassy and had to be evacuated when it was under siege … if you remember all that. I her final years she was friends with Frankie Hawerd so must have had some fun.

    Rebecca West an extraordinary life and this novel encapsulates some of it.


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  • The Third Eye – the Autobiography of a Tibetan Lama – Lobsang Rampa.

    The Third Eye – the Autobiography of a Tibetan Lama – Lobsang Rampa.

    First published in 1956, this copy from the next year, by Secker & Warburg, London.

    Octavo, 256 pages, some illustrations including “Symbolism of Tibetan Chortens”. Nice dust jacket art with a photograph of the author on the rear.

    At the age of seven Rampa was decreed by two famous Tibetan astrologers to be specially gifted. He left his family for the Lamasery of Chakpuri on the outskirts of Lhasa. He became an adviser to the Dalai Lama because of his exceptional powers. The “Third Eye” is a reference to a procedure that heightens one’s abilities in clairvoyance. In the volcanic caves under the Potala he submitted to the mystical experience … the “living death”. And there is more … one for the believers.

    The autobiography of a special gifted Lama.


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  • The Martian – George du Maurier – First edition 1898.

    The Martian – George du Maurier – First edition 1898.

    First edition published by Harper & Brothers in 1898.

    A substantial book, large squarish octavo, 471 pages, dark black end papers which show signs of paper label removal, so possibly ex library probably not public as no other library marks. Striking deep blue cloth covered boards with gilt titles, design, and faux signature to front, gilt title to spine, extraordinarily clean. Someone has assembled poetry to the early preliminaries, which we find quite charming.

    Considered the be quasi autobiographical with a strange surreal Martian twist. The life of Barty Josselin as told by a friend Robert Maurice from early days at the Institution Brossard in Paris. Josselin a good looker and thoroughly talented and extrovert. Later back in England Barty has a spell in the army.

    Later his eyesight starts to fail which makes him think of taking his own life. In a dream a spirit guardian in the form of Martia from Mars comes to him. From then Martia inspires him and provides advice which secures his career as an author. Martia has other influences and wishes him to marry Julia … and all gets a little complicated from there ..

    George du Maurier Channelling a Martian Spirit Guide


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  • Jack Thwaites – Pioneer Tasmanian Bushwalker and Conservationist – Simon Kleinig

    Jack Thwaites – Pioneer Tasmanian Bushwalker and Conservationist – Simon Kleinig

    Published by Forty Degrees South, Hobart in 2008. A very good copy of a hard to come by book.

    Soft cover, perfect bound, 261 pages, illustrated throughout including images from hand drawn maps.

    This is a different sort of biography. We have the background of Jack Thwaites born in 1902 at Kendall in the Lake District, England. Arrived in Tasmania with his family at the age of ten. Around 1928 Jack began his ambitious walking trips. He was three years ahead of Bert Nicholls who is famed for cutting the Overland Track between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair .. the first genuinely up Frenchman’s Cap and likewise to the mountains in the South West.

    This book is partly written around the diaries he kept during these long hikes, often written in pencil at the evening camp fire. Many diaries are missing … such a pity.

    Simon Kleinig called on the help of many to produce this intimate and rewarding book not the least Jack’s grand children Anne and Bill Thwaites who also manged to find some memorable images of this pioneering walker.

    Jack Thwaites – The First Real Tasmanian Bush Walker.


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  • To Hell or to Hobart – A New Insight into Irish Convict History – Patrick Howard

    To Hell or to Hobart – A New Insight into Irish Convict History – Patrick Howard

    Published by Kangaroo Press in 1994, a soft cover edition in fine condition. Octavo, 199 pages, illustrated throughout.

    The author the great grandson of Irish convicts Stephen Howard and Ellen Lydon who were transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1843 and 1849 respectively. Stephen had stolen a gun from a landowner and Ellen and her family had been caught stealing a sheep during a time of high famine.

    This book is a joy. We first get the “’back history” the situation in Ireland both generally and specifically to Stephen and Ellen. The offences, the trial, the jails, the transportation. Time in Tasmania as convicts and their eventual release or ticket of leave. There striving to survive, success and the successes of subsequent generations …

    One Irish Convict family in depth but much deeper than that ..


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