Category: AGB

Contraptions: a timely new edition by a legend of inventive illustrations and cartoon wizardry

A timely new edition featuring the brilliant work from among the most inventive minds in illustration and cartoon wizardry.

Heath Robinson was one of Britain’s most successful graphic artists. His work has had a huge influence on comic art in this country, but also on the image and self-image of the British.

As the champion of pragmatic man, Heath Robinson presented a vision of the British as an unflappable, ingenious and slightly demented breed of inventors that persists to the present day. The British are still a nation of garage-haunting amateur engineers who will recognise the inhabitants of Heath Robinson’s world, with their pot bellies and pots of tea, archaic faces and sturdily commonsensical approach to the problems of existence.

How to hunt tigers by elephant, how to get an even tan, rise with the sun or put out a chimney fire, these and many more pressing questions are answered in the pages of Contraptions.

With illustrations salvaged from the family archives and commentary by Heath Robinson expert, Geoffrey Beare, Contraptions is the best possible introduction to the work of one of Britain’s great comic talents.

I, Hogarth

Hogarth’s epoch-defining paintings and engravings, such as Gin Lane and The Rake’s Progress, are renowned. He was London’s painter par excellence, and supplies the most enduring vision of the eighteenth century’s ebullience, enjoyments and social iniquities. From his lifelong marriage to Jane Thornhill, his inability to have children, his time as one of England’s best portrait painters, his old age and unfortunate dip into politics, and ultimately his death, I, Hogarth is the artist’s life through his very own eyes.

Recommended for readers of Peter Ackroyd and Hilary Mantel, this novel charts Hogarth’s personal story in four parts carefully blending the facts of his life with fiction, beginning with a childhood spent in a debtor’s prison and ending with his death in the arms of his wife.

Stanley and Elsie

The First World War is over, and in a quiet Hampshire village, artist Stanley Spencer is working on the commission of a lifetime, painting an entire chapel in memory of a life lost in the war to end all wars. Combining his own traumatic experiences with moments of everyday redemption, the chapel will become his masterpiece.

When Elsie Munday arrives to take up position as housemaid to the Spencer family, her life quickly becomes entwined with the charming and irascible Stanley, his artist wife Hilda and their tiny daughter Shirin.

As the years pass, Elsie does her best to keep the family together even when love, obsession and temptation seem set to tear them apart…

Effie

‘A joy to read – a wonderful, rich book.’ Dame Emma Thompson

The scandalous love triangle at the heart of the Victorian art world. Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at nineteen to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé John Everett Millais away on holiday, she and Millais fell in love. Effie would inspire some of Millais’s most haunting images, and embody Victorian society’s fears about female sexuality.

Effie risked everything by leaving Ruskin. She hoped to find fulfilment as Millais’s wife, becoming a society hostess and manager of his studio, but controversy and tragedy continued to stalk her. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie’s family letters and diaries to reveal the reality behind the scandalous love-triangle. She shows the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman who was intimately involved in the private and public lives of its two greatest figures. Effie’s charm and ambition helped to shape the careers of both her husbands. Effie is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

The Ten Thousand Things (Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction)

Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (2015), The Ten Thousand Things takes us on a journey across fated meetings, grand battles and riveting drama.

In the turbulent final years of the Yuan Dynasty, Wang Meng is a low-level bureaucrat employed by the government of Mongol conquerors established by the Kublai Khan. Though he wonders about his own complicity with this regime he prefers not to dwell on his official duties, choosing instead to live the life of the mind. Wang is an extraordinarily gifted artist and his paintings are at once delicate and confident; in them one can see the wind blowing through the trees, the water rushing through rocky valleys, the infinite expanse of China’s natural beauty.

But this is not a time for sitting still as Wang must soon travel through an empire in turmoil. In his wanderings he encounters master painters, a fierce female warrior known as the White Tigress who will recruit him as a military strategist, and an ugly young Buddhist monk who rises from beggary to extraordinary heights.

The Ten Thousand Things seamlessly fuses the epic and the intimate with the precision and depth that the real-life Wang Meng brought to his painting.

***PRAISE FOR THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS***

‘It has the sort of sensual prose that makes the reader purr with delight and is surely destined to be one of the books of the year.’ The Daily Mail

‘Spurling has mastered many aspects of Chinese history and legend.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Told by Wang from the cell into which he has been thrust in his old age, the story of his career becomes an intelligent, graceful meditation on the difficulties of reconciling spiritual life with the material world.’ The Sunday Times

‘I’ve never read anything like it… great feats of scholarship and imagination have gone into making these people, so distant from us in space and time’ Literary Review

‘This intricately wrought study of medieval Chinese scholar-artists is wonderfully well imagined.’ The Spectator

‘It is ostensibly a historical novel, but Spurling has in fact written a love letter to Chinese art.’ New Statesman

This is a remarkable novel that deserves to be read slowly and savoured as one would a stunning landscape or a beautiful painting.’ Herald Scotland

‘Those who appreciate a subtle, thoughtful narrative, and are willing to engage with the kind of philosophical questions that are as relevant today as they were in 14th-century China, will relish every page of it.’ BBC History magazine

‘In this immersive tale of a landscape artist’s life, written with restrained lyricism, John Spurling has also given us an entertaining and insightful study about the art of nature, and the nature of art.’ Tan Twan Eng, author of The Garden of Evening Mists

Contraptions

A timely new edition featuring the brilliant work from among the most inventive minds in illustration and cartoon wizardry.

Heath Robinson was one of Britain’s most successful graphic artists. His work has had a huge influence on comic art in this country, but also on the image and self-image of the British.

As the champion of pragmatic man, Heath Robinson presented a vision of the British as an unflappable, ingenious and slightly demented breed of inventors that persists to the present day. The British are still a nation of garage-haunting amateur engineers who will recognise the inhabitants of Heath Robinson’s world, with their pot bellies and pots of tea, archaic faces and sturdily commonsensical approach to the problems of existence.

How to hunt tigers by elephant, how to get an even tan, rise with the sun or put out a chimney fire, these and many more pressing questions are answered in the pages of Contraptions.

With illustrations salvaged from the family archives and commentary by Heath Robinson expert, Geoffrey Beare, Contraptions is the best possible introduction to the work of one of Britain’s great comic talents.