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    August 2022
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    Great Scottish books and magazines for Christmas…


    Glittering Christmas tree in the street Source Le Coffre aux Images

    Dear readers,

    Christmas trees are glittering everywhere in crowded city streets, in the heart of towns and villages, in big stores and tiny shops while we are still looking for the best ideas of gifts to put under the little Christmas tree which is waiting for us at home.

    Ye Olde Christmas 145 Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Ye Olde Christmas 145 Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    You should not be very surprised if I say that most of the lovingly packed gifts I will put under our Christmas tree in a few days  have something to do with books and  that those I will find under the same tree will probably have something to do with Scotland though it becomes more and more difficult for my family and friends to try and find for me a book about Scotland I don’t already have 😉 Anyway it’s time to invade bookshops…

    For having visited a number of ‘book places’ in Scotland I can say it’s a very attractive country for book addicts: it has great libraries and bookshops, a very famous booktown and many book festivals and literary events. How I would like to be there these days to do my book shopping in one those colourful old bookshops lining up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh or to lose myself in a labyrinth of shelves overflowing with rare and dusty books in a Wigtown bookshop …


    Wigtown The Book Shop inglenook © 2007 Scotiana

    Be careful however that the comfortable armchair you’ve chosen to sit down with a pile of books  is not already occupied !


    set of green and red old books


    It would be impossible for me to give you a list of my favourite books first because I never did such a list and also because it would  be a very long and eclectic one, the ever growing list of  an unsatiable reader and collector of books from all times and places and in all genres. We’re presently adding shelves in our attic to try and find a place for each of our books instead of piling them here and there in the house. I began collecting Scottish books even before we discovered Scotland  in 2000 and soon I will need a whole room just for them 😉

    Today I’m going to give you a short selection of my favourite books, my ‘books of the year’,  Scottish books mainly or books with a wee touch of Scotland in them. Many of them can be found in my library, other onesare still on my wishing list ;-).

    Winter Tales by George Mackay Brown comes first at the top of my list, or should I say that George Mackay Brown comes first !

    George Mackay Brown Winter Tales two coversThe very name of George Mackay Brown conjures up myriads of ‘souvenirs’, one dating back to September 14th  2012 when, after a walk up the long and narrow cobbled street which leads to GMB’s house, I could sit on the bench in front of his house, staying there a long moment, trying to imagine the poet’s life in the place he loved so much.  The stories included in  Winter Tales are in perfect harmony with the season and indeed they have been chosen for that, as explained by GMB in the beginning of the book. Due to its northern situation, Orkney is a very special place as far as seasons are concerned and there is a strong tradition of storytelling there to fill the long nights of winter.

    George Mackay Brown is certainly Orkney’s best storyteller but his stories goes far beyond the frontiers of his small realm and ring a universal bell…

    Listen to the Voice would have said Iain Crichton Smith who stands together GMB at the top of my list.


    Iain Crichton Smith two novels

    Few people actually know the beginning of my love story with Scotland and of our ‘out of the beaten track’  journey there but what I can tell you today is that it is a book written by Iain Crichton Smith which led me first to Scotland, to the North of Scotland…

    I could not have been happier when Janice offered me the above edition of Consider the Lilies which she had found in a bookshop in Wigtown. I didn’t like at all the cover of my edition to the point that I had covered it not to see it, but this one with the lonely and sad figure of a lady in black leaning over the rock is quite representative of Mrs Scott, the main character of the book. Many thanks Janice 😉

    Let’s go on among my favourite books… the subjects are varied and there is a world between some of them but I love them all. There is a reading hour for each of them though not enough hours however ;-).

    I’m not going to write reviews about all the books I’ve chosen. It would have taken too much time and my article would have not been finished before Christmas 2014.

    But I’ve found very interesting reviews of these books to help you make an idea.


    Kenneth White seaside


    On the very top of my list is Kenneth White too. A great great Scottish-French poet who opens roads … and not only blue roads 😉

    Kenneth White Open World The Collected Poems 1960-2000 Polygon 2003

    His vision is a remarkably consistent one and the same elements recur again and again–rocks, sea, mist, gulls and the natural world. The sheer range of influences reflect the extraordinary range and depth of his reading–Rimbaud, Nietzche, and Whitman amongst many others–and it is a measure of the strength of his work that such a personal voice emerges. The book is arranged chronologically and many of the poems are appearing in English for the first time. Notated and introduced by the author, this collection for the first time presents his poetry as a coherent and cross-referenced whole.


    Two books of history by Alistair Moffat and Kenneth Roy


    [Alistair Moffat’s]latest book, Britain’s Last Frontiers: A Journey Along the Highland Line, is a direct result of a conversation he had with Jim Naughtie at the Borders Book Festival in 2008. The two men were talking “with a bottle of whisky between us” about that sometimes clear, sometimes indistinct border between Highland and Lowland Scotland. Surely, they mused, someone should write a book about that?
    Yet the book’s real seeds were planted much further back. In 1964, the young 
Moffat caught the train from Kelso with the rest of his class for a school trip to the Highlands. As they headed north, the rest of his class were quietened by the big country beyond the carriage window. The day after, in a tiny church by Loch Duich, the 14-year old Borderer first heard Gaelic psalmody. It felt, he writes, “as though a history and a culture hidden to me was beginning to open”.

    That fascination with the culture on the other side of the Highland line wasn’t superficial. “I realised I needed to learn the language. Scotland must be one of the few countries in the world in which 95 per cent of the population can’t pronounce 50 per cent of their geography. But it’s more than that: language is a prism on a culture.


    Kenneth Roy’s ‘The Invisible Spirit’ is the only book by a Scottish writer in the book world’s most prestigious end-of-year list – The Guardian’s Books of the Year

    The distinguished social historian David Kynaston, whose first choice it was, wrote: The Invisible Spirit: a life of post-war Scotland 1945-75′, is by someone who lived through the period but is admirably unsentimental. Well-informed, highly readable, slightly prickly, often opinionated – not least about the seriously flawed Scottish establishment – this feels like something that needed to be written’.

    ‘The Invisible Spirit’ is a panorama of Scottish life. It begins with the VE Night celebrations in the spring of 1945 and ends with the coming onstream of North Sea oil in the autumn of 1975. It is, above all, the story of ordinary lives – the aspirations, the hardships and the achievements of the Scots themselves.

    The book is richly varied in mood from the controversial to the highly amusing. Always compelling, it provides a unique perspective on Scotland at a turning point in its long history.


    Mandy Haggith outside with a book - Suilven close - Photo from Mandy's website

    Into the Forest Mandy Haggith Saraband november 2013

     Poets over the centuries and all around the world, have used trees as their muse.

    This collection – inspired by Celtic tradition –

    gathers poems that respond to woodland species found on these isles.

    Birch, rowan, willow, holly and oak are among the subjects for an eclectic mix of poets

    from Nobel laureates to Gaelic bards,

    from the ancient to the avant-garde,

    highlighting the connection between trees and writing

    and reminding us of Patrick Geddes’ timeless words:

    ‘By leaves we live’.

    (From the back cover of Into the Forest )

    Mandy Haggith Bear Witness & The Last Bear


    Mandy’ first novel, The Last Bear, was published by Two Ravens Press in 2008. It won the Robin Jenkins Literary Award in 2009 and it was Historical Novels Review Editor’s Choice in May 2008.

    ‘Mandy Haggith is a wonderful storyteller. Science, politics, romance and nature observation all combine as she explores re-wilding of both individual and land. Bear Witness is a book with bite, relevant to contemporary debate about large predators but also a source of many other pleasures and surprises. I know I’ll re-read it many times.’

    (Kenny Taylor, writer and naturalist)

    ‘A passionate and authoritative novel. In Bear Witness, her rich and complex second novel, Mandy Haggith has written an ecological page-turner set in Norway and Scotland in the not too distant future. Callis MacArthur, a troubled scientist who counts pollen grains, is driven by her passionate desire to change the big picture by returning bears to the wilds of Scotland. Haggith’s moving novel explores different kinds of loss as Callis’ vision is challenged by disaster in her personal and professional life.

    Haggith’s evocation of landscape and wildlife is lyrical and vivid, written with a poet’s eye for detail. Her characters convince and entertain. (One of her male characters surely deserves a novel of his own and left me hoping for a sequel.)

    This ambitious, visionary novel belongs to no single genre but encompasses romance, drama, comedy and literary fiction. BEAR WITNESS is a big-hearted book and deserves to find a wide readership. It will make a significant contribution to the debate about the future of Scotland’s wilderness.

    (Linda Gillard, author of Star Gazing.)


    The Lore of Scotland Westwood &  Kingshill 2009

    Christmas time is a good time to read stories: short stories, ghost stories, folk tales and fairy tales and a good time for storytelling too. As we are going to celebrate the end of the year festivities in Berry, a place rich in tradition and folk tales (not far from Bourges, my native town, and from Aubigny-sur-Nère, the ‘City of the Stuarts’) I’ll try to organize a French ‘ceilidh’, ‘une veillée au coin du feu’.

    The Lore of Scotland is a remarkable illustrated book to guide us in the fabulous world of Scottish legends.

    Scotland’s rich past and varied landscape have inspired an extraordinary array of legends and beliefs, and in “The Lore of Scotland” Jennifer Westwood and Sophia Kingshill bring together many of the finest and most intriguing: stories of heroes and bloody feuds, tales of giants, fairies, and witches, and accounts of local customs and traditions. Their range extends right across the country, from the Borders with their haunting ballads, via Glasgow, site of St Mungo’s miracles, to the fateful battlefield of Culloden, and finally to the Shetlands, home of the seal-people. More than simply retelling these stories, “The Lore of Scotland” explores their origins, showing how and when they arose and investigating what basis – if any – they have in historical fact. In the process, it uncovers the events that inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth, probes the claim that Mary King’s Close is the most haunted street in Edinburgh, and examines the surprising truth behind the fame of the MacCrimmons, Skye’s unsurpassed bagpipers. Moreover, it reveals how generations of Picts, Vikings, Celtic saints and Presbyterian reformers shaped the myriad tales that still circulate, and, from across the country, it gathers together legends of such renowned figures as Sir William Wallace, St Columba, and the great warrior Fingal. The result is a thrilling journey through Scotland’s legendary past and an endlessly fascinating account of the traditions and beliefs that play such an important role in its heritage.

    In quite a different genre now, below are the last novels of our two favourite Scottish crime writers.

    Ian Rankin

    Ian Rankin last three novels 2012-2013

    For fans of Ian Rankin and of John Rebus (we are) a new book has just been published (november 2013) : Saints of the Shadow Bible !

    When a young woman is found unconscious at the wheel of her car, evidence at the scene suggests this was no ordinary crash. Especially when it turns out her boyfriend is the son of the Scottish Justice Minister and neither of them is willing to talk to the police. Meanwhile, John Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a big demotion and an even larger chip on his shoulder. A new law has been passed allowing the Scottish police to re-prosecute old crimes and a thirty-year-old case is being reopened, with Rebus and his team from back then suspected of corruption and worse. Known as ‘the Saints’, his colleagues swore a bond of mutual loyalty on something called ‘the Shadow Bible’. But with Malcolm Fox as the investigating officer – and determined to use Rebus for his own ends – the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer. With political turmoil threatening to envelop Scotland, who really are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other? SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE not only reaches back to the past to find out what John Rebus did, but also to discover who he really is.

    Christopher Brookmyre Scottish author of detective novels

    Chris Brookmyre's last two novels

    The latest novel from Chris Brookmyre (note that – Chris, not Christopher) marks a significant change for the author, with a new set of characters that are due to appear again in subsequent books. What’s most notable about Where The Bodies Are Buried however (apart from the shortening of the author’s first name), is that Brookmyre’s latest novel is …well, somewhat more conventional as a crime thriller than his previous semi-comic terrorist thrillers.

    That’s not to say that the author’s trademark Glaswegian wit, irony and deadpan sarcasm isn’t still in evidence, nor that he has lost any of the keenness of his observational satire of the bampots that pass for a Glasgow crime underworld. There’s a great riff early in the book on the lack of subtlety among the criminal fraternity north of the border, where a crime is not so much a “whodunit” as a “cannaemisswhodunit”. Somewhat surprisingly then, Where The Bodies Are Buried is pretty much a whodunit and the new characters introduced in this novel are a police detective and a Private Investigator.

    Jasmine Sharp is an out-of-work actress who is employed by her ex-police force PI uncle Jim, to help him out with the usual ham-fisted insurance claims and scams that make up the majority of his work. When Jim goes missing however, Jasmine discovers that he’s been working on a couple of other long-standing missing person cases that may be linked to his own disappearance. The Glasgow police however have other matters to worry about when DI Catherine Geddis looks into the killing of a criminal that seems to have sparked off a war between the city’s drug lords, but finds that her investigations appear to be hampered from agencies within the police force itself. Evidently there a connection between the two cases, and it involves the biggest organised crime group in the city.

    The mordant wit and high-octane explosions of gory violence are definitely toned down in the latest novel to such an extent that fans of the author’s earlier work will undoubtedly be disappointed by what is a relatively more conventional crime work. Conventional maybe, but Where The Bodies Are Buried is still a fine crime novel in its own right, with strong characterisation and a compelling whodunit with a satisfying, credible conclusion. Considering the “missing persons” nature of the crimes at the centre of the book, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out the unspoken four words at the end of the novel. Even that however is a fairly standard twist, but it should ensure that we have an interesting PI team in place for the next book.

    (Comment ‘He’s deid, Jim’ by Keris Nine on

    The Prestonpans Tapestry 1745 Burke's Peerage and Gentry 2010

    Now here is a selection of very beautiful books which tell the story of the two wonderful tapestries which have been inaugurated recently in Scotland: ‘The Prestonpans Tapestry’ and ‘The Great Tapestry of Scotland’. A third tapestry, the ‘Diaspora Tapestry’ will be inaugurated in 2014.

    The Great Tapestry of Scotland Susan Mansfield and Alistair Moffat Birlinn 2013

    I’m still writing about the ‘Prestonpans Tapestry’.  We discovered it last September in Bayeux, in the North of France, when it was displayed in the Bayeux Tapestry Museum. The story of Bonnie Prince Charlie is one of the most famous pages of Scottish history and it is remarkably illustrated in this magnificent tapestry which is a story in itself…


    Roy Pugh & Prestoungrange Prestonpans historical novels

    I’ve already quoted The White Rose and the Thorn Tree in a previous article but I will tell you more about it when I’ve finished it. I was very happy to receive A Baron’s Tale,  very kindly offered to me and signed by its author together with a very beautiful book about the Prestonpans murals. I intend to dedicate a whole article  to these two books and their author.

    Alexander McCall Smith - Scottish Author

    No need to introduce Alexander McCall Smith, the very popular and beloved author of Mma Ramotswe stories… and we are fan of the other series too 😉

    McCall Smith The N0 1 Ladies'Detective Agency Series

    The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series

    1999 The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
    2000 Tears of the Giraffe
    2001 Morality for Beautiful Girls
    2002 The Kalahari Typing School for Men
    2003 The Full Cupboard of Life
    2004 In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (also known as The Night-Time Dancer.)
    2006 Blue Shoes and Happiness
    2007 The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
    2008 The Miracle at Speedy Motors
    2009 Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
    2010 The Double Comfort Safari Club
    2011 The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
    2012 The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection
    2013 The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

    McCall Smith  44 Scotland Street Series Last three novels 2013

    44 Scotland Street Series

    2005 44 Scotland Street
    2005 Espresso Tales
    2006 Love Over Scotland
    2007 The World According to Bertie
    2008 The Unbearable Lightness of Scones
    2010 The Importance of Being Seven
    2011 Bertie Plays The Blues
    2012 Sunshine on Scotland Street
    2013 Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers

    McCall Smith  The Sunday Philosophy Club Series Last three novels 2013

    The Sunday Philosophy Club Series

    also known as Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries

    2004 The Sunday Philosophy Club
    2005 Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
    2006 The Right Attitude to Rain
    2007 The Careful Use of Compliments
    2008 The Comfort of Saturdays (UK title) or The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday (American title)
    2009: The Lost Art of Gratitude
    2010: The Charming Quirks of Others
    2011: The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
    2012: The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (published 23 Oct 2012 in UK)


    Below is a selection of books with a wee touch of Scotland in them…  a big touch as far as Lilian Beckwith and Beatrix Potter are concerned.

    Lillian Beckwith four novels Hutchinson

    I have a whole collection of these very lively, very funny books about Scotland.

    Beatrix Potter's Scotland Lynne McGeachie 2010

    Beatrix Potter’s Scotland gives insight into the life of one of the best-loved writers in Britain. Based around Potter’s own journal, the book goes into detail about Potter’s upbringing and influences. She was largely brought up by nannies and governesses and even as a young child, she was perceived as highly imaginative and extremely intelligent, with a talent for drawing and a keen interest in science. The book details how Potter fell in love with the Perthshire countryside where she spent many summers, and how this helped her to create the characters Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Mr Jeremy Fisher among others. The book also highlights how Walter Scott was an inspiration and was hugely admired by Potter from a young age. From the writer who brought you The Tale O Peter Kinnen, we learn about the creative literary genius that was Beatrix Potter.

    Lynne McGeachie’s book must have been very successful, which is not surprising given its interest,  for it is temporarily out of stock. One must try to find it in second-hand bookshops.

    Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales Warne & Co 1989

    Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales Warne & Co 1989

    This edition of Beatrix Potter’s Tales is the one which can be found in my library on a shelf dedicated to Beatrix Potter. We are all fans here of this very talented author and illustrator whose talents didn’t limit to writing and drawings. Indeed, she has fans all over the world.  Susan Wittig Albert, the very popular American writers of detective novels is one of them and I’ve become a fan of this writer too. I love the light style of these ‘whodonits’, not based on the hard ingredients which too often lead to the sucess of  contemporary bestsellers

    Susan Wittig Albert The Cottage Tales first four novels


    Susan fell in love with Beatrix Potter’s books when she was a child and has never forgotten the joy of reading the stories and imagining the lives of the animals beyond Miss Potter’s pictures.

    After careers as a mother, a college professor, and a university administratory, Susan went on to become the best-selling author of many books for young people and mysteries for adults.

    “I love working with the life of Beatrix Potter,” Susan says. “She was a remarkable woman who patiently worked against adversity to create exactly the kind of life she wanted for herself. A gifted storyteller and artist, a determined countrywoman who helped to preserve the natural beauty of the Lake District for generations to come, Beatrix Potter is a woman we can all admire.”

    The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter are Susan’s special tribute to Miss Potter, whose delightful stories and charming pictures continue to bring joy to the young at heart.

    Susan Wittig Albert lives with her husband Bill on thirty-one acres in the Texas Hill Country near Austin, where they have cows, sheep, geese, dogs, and cats.

    Below is the list of detective novels belonging to The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series.

    The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

    1. The Tale of Hill Top Farm (2004)
    2. The Tale of Holly How (2005)
    3. The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood (2006)
    4. The Tale of Hawthorn House (2007)
    5. The Tale of Briar Bank (2008)
    6. The Tale of Applebeck Orchard (2009)
    7. The Tale of Oat Cake Crag (2010)
    8. The Tale of Castle Cottage (2011)

    Under the pen name of Robin Paige, Susan Wittig Albert also wrote, in collaboration with her husband Bill Albert, ‘The Robin Paige Victorian-Edwardian Mysteries’. Within this series one title rings a Scottish bell 😉

    Death at Glamis Castle Robin Paige alias Susan Wittig Albert Berkley Prime Crime


    If you are fan of Agatha Christie, if you  love good cosy mystery fiction,  with much suspense and humour and  not unbearable horror you’ll like Susan Wittig Albert and Lilian Jackson Braun.

    Lilian Jackson Braun is the author of a very popular American series of detective novels featuring Jim Qwilleran and his two siamese cats, Kao Ko Kung called Koko and Yom Yom. Our colourful hero has Scottish roots and he is always proudly boasting about his origins 😉 His mother was a Mackintosh and in the third book Qwill buys a heavy shield coming from the gate of a Scottish castle with his clan coat of arms on it.

    Lilian Jackson Braun Jim Qwilleran Feline Whodunnit series Headline Publishing

    1.     The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966)
    2.     The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (1967)
    3.     The Cat Who Turned On and Off (1968)
    4.     The Cat Who Saw Red (1986)
    5.     The Cat Who Played Brahms (1987)
    6.     The Cat Who Played Post Office (1987)
    7.     The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare (1988)
    8.     The Cat Who Sniffed Glue (1988)
    9.     The Cat Who Went Underground (1989)
    10.     The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts (1990)
    11.     The Cat Who Lived High (1990)
    12.     The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal (1991)
    13.     The Cat Who Moved a Mountain (1992)
    14.     The Cat Who Wasn’t There (1992)
    15.     The Cat Who Went into the Closet (1993)
    16.     The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (1994)
    17.     The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (1995)
    18.     The Cat Who Said Cheese (1996)
    19.     The Cat Who Tailed a Thief (1997)
    20.     The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (1999)
    21.     The Cat Who Saw Stars (copyright, 1998; published, 1999)
    22.     The Cat Who Robbed a Bank (2000)
    23.     The Cat Who Smelled a Rat (2001)
    24.     The Cat Who Went up the Creek (2002)
    25.     The Cat Who Brought Down the House (2003)
    26.     The Cat Who Talked Turkey (2004)
    27.     The Cat Who Went Bananas (2005)
    28.     The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (2006)
    29.     The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (2007)
    30.     The Cat Who Smelled Smoke


    Lilian Jackson Brown Série Grands Détectives 10-18

    I’m actually reading Lilian Jackson’s eight novel in French ‘Le chat qui sniffait de la colle’.  It’s better to read these novels in the order in which they were written. Book after book you learn more about the Scottish origins of Qwill, the journalist-detective who is the hero of the books. The stories are very enjoyable, especially  for readers who love cats for Koko and Yom Yom are omnipresent in the books and their feline behaviour very well described.

    Look at the beautiful covers of the French edition of Lilian Jackson Braun’s books.  There is an interesting story behind these covers. The beautiful images belong to big paintings made by a very special artist and I invite you to read his biography.

     Louis Wain at his drawing table around 1890

    Louis William Wain was born on 5 August 1860 in Clerkenwell in London. His father was a textile trader and embroiderer; his mother was French. He was the first of six children, and the only male child. None of his five sisters ever married. At the age of thirty, his youngest sister was certified as insane, and admitted to an asylum. The remaining sisters lived with their mother for the duration of their lifetimes, as did Louis for the majority of his life.

    Wain was born with a cleft lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. As a youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher there for a short period. At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and his five sisters after his father’s death.An early Louis Wain caricature, featuring bulldogs rather than cats.

    Wain soon quit his teaching position to become a freelance artist, and in this role he achieved substantial success. He specialized in drawing animals and country scenes, and worked for several journals including the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, where he stayed for four years, and the Illustrated London News, beginning in 1886. Through the 1880s, Wain’s work included detailed illustrations of English country houses and estates, along with livestock he was commissioned to draw at agricultural shows. His work at this time includes a wide variety of animals, and he maintained his ability to draw creatures of all kinds throughout his lifetime. At one point, he hoped to make a living by drawing dog portraits.
    At the age of 23, Wain married his sisters’ governess, Emily Richardson, who was ten years his senior (which was considered quite scandalous at the time), and moved with her to Hampstead in north London. Emily soon began to suffer from breast cancer, and died only three years into their marriage. Prior to Emily’s death, Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, a stray black and white kitten they rescued after hearing him mewing in the rain one night. Emily’s spirits were greatly lifted by Peter, and Louis began to draw extensive sketches of their cat, which Emily strongly encouraged him to have published. She passed away before she could see this come to fruition for Louis, but he continued to create these cat sketches as a promise to his beloved Emily. He later wrote of Peter, “To him, properly, belongs the foundation of my career, the developments of my initial efforts, and the establishing of my work.” Peter can be recognized in many of Wain’s early published works.

    In 1886, Wain’s first drawing of anthropomorphised cats was published in the Christmas issue of the Illustrated London News, titled A Kittens’ Christmas Party. The illustration depicted 150 cats, many of which resembled Peter, doing things such as sending invitations, holding a ball, playing games, and making speeches, spread over eleven panels. Still, the cats remain on all fours, unclothed, and without the variety of human-like expression that would characterize Wain’s later work. Under the pseudonym of George Henri Thompson, he illustrated numerous books for children by Clifton Bingham published by Ernest Nister.



    1.     1966 : le Chat qui lisait à l’envers (The Cat Who Could Read Backwards)
    2.     1967 : le Chat qui mangeait de la laine (The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern)
    3.     1968 : le Chat qui aimait la brocante (The Cat Who Turned on and Off)
    4.     1986 : le Chat qui voyait rouge (The Cat Who Saw Red)
    5.     1987 : le Chat qui jouait Brahms (The Cat Who Played Brahms)
    6.     1987 : le Chat qui jouait au postier (The Cat Who Played Post Office)
    7.     1988 : le Chat qui connaissait Shakespeare (The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare)
    8.     1988 : le Chat qui sniffait de la colle (The Cat Who Sniffed Glue)
    9.     1989 : le Chat qui inspectait le sous-sol (The Cat Who Went Underground)
    10.     1990 : le Chat qui parlait aux fantômes (The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts)
    11.     1990 : le Chat qui vivait haut (The Cat Who Lived High)
    12.     1991 : le Chat qui connaissait un cardinal (The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal)
    13.     1992 : le Chat qui déplaçait des montagnes (The Cat Who Moved a Mountain)
    14.     1991 : le Chat qui n’était pas là (The Cat Who Wasn’t There)
    15.     1993 : le Chat qui allait au placard (The Cat Who Went into the Closet)
    16.     1994 : le Chat qui jouait aux dominos (The Cat Who Came to Breakfast)
    17.     1995 : le Chat qui donnait un coup de sifflet (The Cat Who Blew the Whistle)
    18.     1996 : le Chat qui disait cheese (The Cat Who Said Cheese)
    19.     1997 : le Chat qui flairait une piste (The Cat Who Tailed a Thief)
    20.     1998 : le Chat qui parlait aux oiseaux (The Cat Who Sang for the Birds)
    21.     1998 : le Chat qui regardait les étoiles (The Cat Who Saw Stars)
    22.     1999 : le Chat qui volait une banque (The Cat Who Robbed a Bank)
    23.     2001 : le Chat qui flairait l’embrouille (The Cat Who Smelled a Rat)
    24.     2002 : le Chat qui remontait la rivière (The Cat Who Went up the Creek)
    25.     2003 : le Chat qui cassait la baraque (The Cat Who Brought Down the House)
    26.     2004 : le Chat qui parlait dindon (The Cat Who Talked Turkey)
    27.     2004 : le Chat qui jetait des peaux de banane (The Cat Who Went Bananas)
    28.     2006 : le Chat qui faisait la bombe (The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell)
    29.     2007 : le Chat qui avait un don (The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers)
    30.     2008 : (The Cat Who Smelled Smoke) roman inachevé

    Last but not least, why not offer a subscription to one of those two gorgeous and very interesting Scottish magazines? I’m always looking  forward to receiving the next issue of them… and there must be plenty of other ones which I still don’t know 😉

    The Scots Magazine October November December 2013

    The Scots Magazine October November December 2013

    Above are the three last issues of The Scots magazine.


    EarthLines 7

    EarthLines 7

    Earth Lines is the perfect gift for any wildlife enthusiast (I am ;-)). I’ve just received the paper version of the last two issues which complete my collection but for those who are interested, the magazine can be downloaded.


    EarthLines 4 February 2013 1

    Just for the pleasure, below is the cover of  a back winter issue. Quite  in keeping with the spirit of the season!

     EarthLines is based on a broad interdisciplinary approach to ecoliterature. The kind of transformative writing we’re looking for will be inspired as much by the ideas of philosophers, psychologists, ecologists and anthropologists as by those of storytellers, mythographers, visual artists, and others who live close to or work with the natural world. We aim to be as inclusive as possible. We are also interested in incorporating work on oral traditions into the magazine.

    Many of the problems that we and the planet face today spring from a disconnection between humans and the rest of the natural world. We believe that positive change can’t be accomplished until we have begun to re-evaluate and re-establish that connection. Writing is only one of the ways to do this, but it’s an important one. However, EarthLines is more than a magazine. Our aspiration is to become a positive force in inspiring and nurturing a closer connection between people and the natural world. We aim to do this not only by publishing the magazine, but by working with a network of individuals and groups who, like us, are committed to this task, using our website, blog, Tumblr site, Facebook and Twitter and all the other communications tools we have available. We want to encourage and participate in the conversations that lead to change.


    Books or e-books that is the question !


    Mairiuna's Amazon Kindle © 2012 Scotiana


    My own view is that anything that encourages reading can only be a good thing,

    that the electronic version will exist side-by-side with the real

    and that the tactile, sensory appeal of the real book will win hands down in any long-term contest.

    (Laura Mustian of Byre Books  6 October 2012 in  ‘How do book towns survive in the age of the e-reader?’)

     The world of books is a vast and enchanting country which goes beyond frontiers. The new media could have endangered it but I think it has NOT and that, on the contrary, it is giving it a new dimension and a new strength. As a lover of books since early age I was certainly, at the beginning, one of the most sceptical readers about the use of e-books, always muttering against their proliferation,  but I’ve changed my mind since as I can see more and more opportunities in this new way of reading.  Indeed I could no longer do without my kindle and the big virtual library it contains. A number of books which fill the shelves of my library have found a place on my kindle. But, though Mr Kindle follows me everywhere, in my handbag or in my suitcase, and even on my bedside table, I certainly could not do without my paper books. Indeed books have never been so many to queue at my door especially in these Christmas times. So, once more and more than ever let us get immersed in that enchanted country, in the forest of the books…
    As a number of my books feel very frustrated not to appear today in my long Christmas article I’ve promised to introduce them in a near future ! So stay tuned.

    Happy Christmas to everybody!

    A bientôt.




    ather Christmas sledge with reindeers







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