And now for something completely different… I don’t often cover ‘boy’s own’ books, because I only have so much nerdiness to go around, but every now and then something slips through the net. The latest one was Brave Deeds For British Boys by Charles D. Michael (c. 1913) which I picked up on the very cheap (about as much as you should spend on it, should you be interested) and just finished looking at. Here’s a couple of pictures I tweeted a while back:
People knew how to give good book back in the day, right? That’s a very attractive book. That red! That gilt! Also, if anybody can figure out that town/ village, I’d be interesting to hear what you think it might be. Books like this always make me want to find out more about the reader. I’m fairly sure he’s not the Alfred Kitching who died on the Titanic, but I’d be interested to figure out what happened to him.
One of the things I like to do with books like this is to list them on Goodreads. It’s important to me that they’re recognised and logged on a database somewhere. Sometimes I think about all of the books that existed, flared briefly and brightly into the world, and now are forgotten. The circle of literary life, perhaps? Maybe, but I like working against that and yoking them to the modern world. That point of connection intrigues me. It’s important to me, I think.
Here’s what I thought:
Brave Deeds For British Boys by Charles D. Michael
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Honestly, sometimes I wonder how our forebears made it. This is a compilation of inspiring stories from somewhere about the start of the twentieth century (it’s undated but my copy has an inscription dated 1913) and pretty much all of them involve Sacrificing Yourself In A Noble Way That Might Get You Killed But Hey Ho It’s All For The Good. In a way, that’s the main interest of a book like this and indeed many of its contemporaries – this is personal, domestic history. It’s just all so hideously sad with the benefit of hindsight. The poor boys of this generation! What a story to be told!
One of the great pluses of books of this period is the fact that so many people wrote dedications in them. The reader of my copy was given it from the Primitive Methodist Sunday School on Feb 6th. 1913. His name was Alfred Kitching. And now, just over one hundred years later, it’s now sat on my shelf. I will never not find that miraculous.