For July’s session (Thursday 7th, 6pm), we will be discussing the graphic novel behemoth that is ‘WATCHMEN’ by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons:
“In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the cold war is in full effect. ”
Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy.
In the mid-eighties, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Watchmen, changing the course of comic history and essentially remaking how popular culture perceived the genre. Popularly cited as the point where comics came of age, Watchmen’s sophisticated take on superheroes has been universally acclaimed for its psychological depth and realism.”
If you have any other suggestions for the reading list then please let me know and we’ll try our best to accommodate.
So far we have the following for consideration:
20th century Boys
Diary of a Teenage Girl
Hip Hop Family Tree
Pride of Baghdad
The Bad Doctor
Y: The Last Man
The reading group takes place on the first Thursday evening of every month.
See you there! Bring snacks!
Customer Services Assistant
Save the date – Saturday 7 May is free Comic Book Day! And libraries are taking part, courtesy of the lovely folks at Forbidden Planet who are providing the comics to us.
Across North America and around the world, comic shops will be giving away free comics.
“Free Comic Book Day is the perfect occasion for newcomers to comics as well as those who have been reading them for years to celebrate comics and discover new titles that debut on the first Saturday in May,” said Free Comic Book Day spokesperson Dan Manser.
You can collect yours from your local library! Why not check out their graphic novel collections while you are there and see what else your library has to offer.
There is a Dr Who title, a Superhero Girls title and selected libraries will also have Suicide Squad (suitable for teens and over only).
Look for the posters in participating libraries, or see the list below. One title per customer, while stocks last.
Kensington Central, Notting Hill Gate, Kensal, Brompton, North Kensington
Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie (15.9.1890 – 12.1.1976) is the best-selling novelist of all time. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap.
Described as the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie was born in Torquay, Devon in September 1890. Educated at home, she taught herself to read and was soon writing poems and short stories.
It was during the First World War that Agatha turned to writing detective stories. Her debut novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles took some time to finish and even longer to find a publisher. She started writing partly in response to a bet from her sister Madge that she couldn’t write a good detective story and partly to relieve the monotony of the dispensing work which she was now doing.
It was not until 1919 that a publisher, John Lane of The Bodley Head (the fourth to have received the manuscript) accepted The Mysterious Affair at Styles for publication and contracted Agatha to produce five more books. She chose a Belgian refugee detective, Hercule Poirot as her sleuth – Belgian refugees were a common feature in England during the war.
Subsequent books introduced new characters – Tommy and Tuppence and Miss Marple who were to feature in many further titles.
Recommended reading from RBKC library staff:
“I choose the play ‘Witness for the prosecution’. I think Sir Wilfred is one of the wittiest characters she has written and I love the ending.”
“I like ‘The mirror crack’d from side to side’ – it was the first Agatha Christie I ever read aged 11 or maybe even younger and I was hooked from the start. I then went on to ‘Sparkling cyanide’. I just love her characters, the ‘bad boy’ who must have done it because he is mad, bad and dangerous to know – talking of which, I think perhaps my all time favourite is ‘Taken at the Flood’ a truly wicked plot.”
“I discovered Agatha Christie shortly after my twelfth birthday and read every title available in my local library. Hercules Poirot was my favourite detective – of course! Tommy and Tuppence were fun, and Miss Marple had her moments, but Poirot was, and remains, the quintessential eccentric/ genius detective. An honorary mention must go to the glamorous and fun thriller, ‘The Man in the Brown Suit‘ (with a really great female lead!)”
Christie’s first marriage ended in divorce in 1928. She travelled to the archaeological site of Ur where the following year she met Max Mallowan who was to become her second husband. Several books were influenced by their travels in the Middle East such as Death on the Nile and They came to Baghdad.
From 1928 Agatha also wrote non-crime novels under the pen name of Mary Westmacott. She continued writing through the war and post-war period, although now there was much time-consuming work with theatrical productions which limited the time Agatha could devote to writing.
On 3rd December 1926 Agatha Christie’s life featured a real life mystery when she left her home alone. Her car was found abandoned the next morning several miles away. A nationwide search ensued. The press and public enjoyed various speculations as to what might have happened and why but no one knew for sure. It eventually transpired that Agatha had somehow travelled to Kings Cross station where she took the train to Harrogate and checked into the Harrogate Spa Hotel under the name of Theresa Neale, previously of South Africa. She was eventually recognised by the hotel staff on 14th December, who alerted the police. She did not recognise her husband when he came to meet her. Possibly concussed but certainly suffering from amnesia, Agatha had no recollection of who she was. An intensely private person, made even more so by the hue and cry of the press, Agatha never spoke of this time with friends or family.
Agatha Christie died in January 1976 and is buried in the churchyard of St. Mary’s Cholsey, near Wallingford.
Find Agatha Christie books in your library by checking our new reading list.
Recently, Rachel Worth, Professor of Dress and Fashion at Arts University Bournemouth, delivered a presentation on the history of Marks & Spencer at Chelsea Library. This post is based on what we learnt about the high street giant from Rachel’s fascinating and insightful lecture.
From very humble beginnings in a Penny Bazaar stall at Leeds Kirkgate Market in 1884, Michael Marks and – from a partnership that began in 1894 – Thomas Spencer together built a company that would become Britain’ s biggest clothing retailer.
Today, Marks & Spencer is a company synonymous with quality, reliability and customer care, but do we associate it with fashion?
Well – yes! Marks & Spencer was at the forefront of bringing accessible and fashionable clothing to the masses, at the same time being a pioneer in using new textiles, displays techniques and marketing methods – including the use of “supermodels” before the word was ever invented.
In the 1890s most working class people made their own clothes, and initially the market stall sold haberdashery (dressmaking materials). The sales slogan of “Don’t Ask The Price, It’s A Penny” summed up the business model. By the outbreak of World War One the company had expanded considerably and had diversified into homewares, but clothing remained at the heart of the business.
Marks & Spencer revolutionised how we bought clothes and also how clothes were sold, focusing on ready-to-wear affordable goods; high quality, well designed and fashionable clothing. In the 1920s M&S was ahead of most other retailers in its marketing and retailing methods setting an upper price limit on clothes. It also accepted the return of unwanted items, giving a full cash refund if the receipt was shown, no matter how long ago the product was purchased, which was unusual for the time.
It entered into long term relationships with British manufacturers, and sold clothes of the “St Michael” brand, introduced in 1928. As the company dealt directly with manufacturers it was able to keep prices low and to maintain input in the design and quality of clothes sold in its stores. It was one of the first companies to introduce standardisation in sizing. It also aimed to cater for all members of the family; children’s clothing and ready-to-wear suits being particularly popular.
Pioneering methods included having its own textile laboratory to enable the testing of fabrics and dyes before mass production, and the use of rainmaking machines to test water repellent fabrics. New synthetic textiles were particularly popular between the 1950s and 1970s. These included Tricell which was first used in 1957. Another synthetic fibre called Courtelle was first launched, nationally, by Marks & Spencer during the 60s as was Crimplene and Terylene.
These fabrics were easy to wash, often drip dry, easy iron and held their colour or shape. Terylene, for instance, meant the fashionable 50’s woman could have a permanently pleated non-iron skirt. The introduction of Lycra in the 1980s revolutionised hosiery, swimwear and underwear because of its elastic properties.
Marks and Spencer has always been design conscious, and no more so than in the 1950s when designs were Paris-inspired with an interpretation of the New Look being all the rage. Colour coordinated clothing and jersey knitwear enabled the fashionable women on a budget to change her look , updating key pieces when on a tight budget.
Display and marketing was always a key element of the presentation of M&S fashion ranges. Before the days of mass advertising it was the window display that dominated; these were eye catching and innovative (see above). Early advertising concentrated on the opening of new stores, but post-war the company began to employ models in print media using the well know faces of the day, including Twiggy in the 1960s:
The heyday of this form of mass marketing was the 1990s when M&S began to use supermodels such as Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer. Here is Vogue’s front cover of July 1996 with Amber Valletta wearing a Marks & Spencer shirt, which we found in our archives at Chelsea Library:
If fashion is a concept based around our attitudes to clothing then Marks and Spencer is part of its fabric: with its high quality/ good value ethos, innovative and strong relationships with customers, and its technological innovations it led the way in fashion for the masses. Our thanks to Rachel for revealing some of the secrets to the success of the company over the last hundred years.
Chris Riddell was appointed Children’s Laureate in June in recognition of his prolific body of work as an illustrator and writer of children’s literature. Originally a political cartoonist for The Economist and currently The Observer (check out his drawings of Putin on the Iron Throne and other disturbingly accurate caricatures of our politicians), he is now best known for his beautifully detailed illustrations of strange characters, monsters and fantastic creatures in books for kids, most notably theEdge Chronicles by Paul Stewart.
We wanted to pay our respects to this home-grown talent with a humble display showcasing some of the books available in our libraries that feature his work. Resident library assistant and fellow illustrator, David Bushell created the poster and found a great selection of titles which have proved to be popular with the younger readers.
As you all know, Chatterbooks is the monthly reading group for 8 to 12 yr olds and is a forum for young book lovers to discuss and discover authors and titles they have enjoyed.
At this week’s session we concentrated on the “discovering” as we explored the weird but decidedly wonderful world of augmented reality books. For those who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, with the help of a tablet and a free downloadable app the books come to life. Thanks to the stock team we had one book on dinosaurs and another on the solar system. In the iDinosaur book we watched a dinosaur hatch from its egg, another one walked out of the book, onto the carpet and under the table, roaring as it went.
With the help of the solar system app (iSolarSystemAR) all the planets were orbiting around the sun in (Learning) Space! The children and parents were suitably impressed and amazed and were all keen to have a go with the library iPads. Many thanks to Sally from the Stock Team, and Fiora for helping me with the two books shared between 6 children!
After exhausting the possibilities of the books, they had time to write a few lines about what they had just seen and start on a dinosaur and solar system word search.
So, it wasn’t a typical Chatterbooks session but I think our eyes were opened not only to the subjects of dinosaurs and the planets but also to new ways of learning and interacting with new technology. Now we’re buying more books and exploring more opportunities for showing them off to our users, young and old!
If you’d like to see the books in action with ipads, give Brompton a ring and we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time for you to come along and try them out. Alternatively, you can borrow an augmented reality book and use your smart device to bring them to life.
Both children and parents were delighted by a reading of “Sam’s Pet Temper” by author Sangeeta Bhadra at Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Central libraries on Saturday 30 May.
In the story Sam’s temper is initially great company, and so he decides to take it home as a pet. Before long, however, it becomes too hard to handle and he begins to wish it would leave him alone…
Sam’s temper in the story is a real life naughty creature adorably illustrated by Marion Arbona. At the end of the reading, the children were invited to take part in a fun creative activity where they imagined and drew their own tempers.
Sangeeta visited Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Central libraries as part of a whistle-stop libraries tour with her debut children’s book, which has been published in Canada, in English and French, and will soon be published in Italy and South Korea. Sangeeta kindly presented Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Central libraries with signed copies of the book for our readers to enjoy.
Many thanks to Sandeep, Gaynor and of course Sangeeta for a great event!
We noticed some new trends on the King’s Road over the past week… garden inspired shop-fronts, beautiful floral dresses and new visitors to Chelsea Library, who are exploring the area whilst visiting the Chelsea Flower Show. Surrounded by so much floral beauty and enthusiasm, we’ve also caught the flower fever and been inspired to explore fashion and flowers in our Costume & Fashion collection.
The Chelsea Flower show in the 1920s:
And we love this image of the flower show in 1918, showing off the fashions of the time:
In our Vogue magazine archives we found lots of garden-inspired illustrations, fashions and adverts from the May and June issues in the 1920s. In May 1926, as well as checking out the flower show, here is what you mind find shopping along Sloane Street:
And from the same month, an illustration of a fashionable garden of the time:
And when it rains…
We liked this arty picture from Vogue May 1924, with the shadows of trees in the background, entitled Flowered crepe is a medium of the mode:
In June 1929, a model poses in a rock garden:
In fact, everywhere we looked in the May and June Vogue issues we found flowers and gardens. Here is Twiggy in May 1967 and on her dress is a “Pyramid Myriad of Flowers, triangles of tiny multi colored ones….”:
In the 60s Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell had a chic Chelsea boutique Quorum, and we found this great floral design of theirs from 1968:
Fast forward again to May 1988, a budding affair:
We hope you enjoyed taking a quick browse through the flowers and fashions at Chelsea Library. There is lots more to discover in the library and online, in the Berg Fashion Library Online, which you can access for free with your library card.
We’ve gathered all the contenders and winners of the UK’s most popular literary awards in one place! So if you’re keen to read a whole shortlist, want to know what all the fuss is about a particular winner, or are just looking for a great book to read – take a look. All our book lists link straight in to the library catalogue, so you can find out which libraries hold copies of the book you’re after and whether they’re available (you can reserve from here too).
The book awards we feature include the Man Booker, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Specsavers National Book Award and many more!
Why not try The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (above) – winner of the 2014 Waterstones Book of the Year, winner of Book of the Year and Best New Writer in the 2014 Specsavers National Book Awards. This is a wonderful read set in 1686 Amsterdam. It follows eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman as she arrives from a small village to the Amsterdam household of merchant trader Johannes Brand, her new husband. A gripping story unfolds as she is given a cabinet by her husband containing an exact replica of their house.
Take a look too through the excellent shortlist for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, including the latest book by Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests. The winner will be announced in just a couple of weeks!
Each time a new shortlist is announced, the lists are refreshed – but we are gradually building a ’round up’ list of past prizewinners, so you can always be sure to find some great quality reading.
Celebrate and discover the amazing world of comics on Free Comic Book Day!
Taking place annually on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialist shops around the world give away comic books – and this year, for this first time, we are very pleased to have some free comics from Forbidden Planet to give away at some of our libraries.
Participating libraries will have a poster advertising they are taking part. It’s first come, first served, so if you are an avid comic fan, visit one of the participating libraries – Brompton, Kensington Central or North Kensington Library – on Saturday 2 May to pick up your special free copy.
What are we giving away? DC Comics: Divergence A first look at upcoming storylines, featuring three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the “Darkseid War” within Justice League featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on Superman.
Why not join the library and check out the graphic novel collection at the same time? All of RBKC’s lending libraries have a comics section, including great Manga titles at Brompton Library. If there’s something in particular you’re looking for, check the catalogue in advance to find out where it’s in stock. Once you’ve whetted your appetite, you should know that there will soon be a whole lot more for you to enjoy, as a recent big stock buy means that what you see on Saturday is just the start…
If you’ve suggestions for future stock, we’d love to hear your views – contact Customer Services Assistant David Bushell at Brompton Library. and Happy Free Comic Book Day!