Archives for film

First Edition: ‘1984’ by George Orwell #oldbooks #firstedition

A novel which needs no introduction, 1984 by George Orwell [below], first published in the UK in 1949, has populated modern culture with its terms. Big Brother. Doublethink. Thoughtcrime. Newspeak. Room 101. Memory Hole. It regularly features in Best Of lists. A first UK edition green jacket is for sale at Peter Harrington [above] for £4,000; the first impression was issued in either green or red jackets. Another UK first edition is also for sale, £9,750, owned and inscribed by friends of Eric Blair [Orwell], Eleanor and Dennis Collings. The current UK Penguin edition [above] dates from 2004. Buy The story The year is 1984.  Airstrip One is a province of Oceania, one of three totalitarian super states that rule the world. It is ruled by the ‘Party’, its ideology is ‘Ingsoc’, its leader is ‘Big Brother’. The people must conform to the system, spied on by the ‘Thought Police’ using two-way telescreens. Winston Smith is a member of the middle class Outer Party, he rewrites historical records to conform to the state’s vision. Winston has an affair with Julia, something which is an act of rebellion as the Party insists sex should only take place for reproductive purposes. Winston
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Categories: Book Love.

‘Movies’, a short story

‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.’ Jarek locked the doors, engaged first gear and nudged the nose of his black cab into the stream of traffic. His passenger didn’t acknowledge the stab at conversation. A pick-up on Regents Street at 6pm, the week before Christmas, it was going to be one long crawl, a back-double, then baby steps over the bridge to Waterloo. He sneaked a look at the passenger. A man. Dark business suit, smiling to himself, teeth as white as his shirt. Jarek studied him; no not a smile, more of a grimace. He tried his usual banter. Football. Stock market. State of the roads. Cyclists. Skyscrapers ruining London’s skyline. Whether Boris should be PM. No answer from the back seat. ‘What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,’ Jarek muttered to himself. He didn’t like driving in silence. He paused, then waved at the silver and gold flashing lights, the red and gold streamers, people carrying bursting carrier bags. ‘If you build it he will come.’ No answer. Was he asleep? ‘I mean the shops.’ He hated that his voice sounded apologetic, hated the need to explain himself. ‘You build the
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Categories: My Short Stories.

Family history: Films bring history to life

Film archives are a great boon for family history researchers, as they shine a lens onto life as it was lived in a dusty daily glory. There are many gems, from the Mitchell & Kenyon archive at the British Film Institute with hundreds of short films made in Edwardian England, to the Imperial War Museum’s film archive of war-related footage [below]. The best place to start is with the ‘Britain on Film’ project [above] at the BFI National Archive which is easy to search by region, date and subject. From here you can expand to regional film archives of which there are many including the Yorkshire Film Archive, the East Anglian Film Archive and the North West Film Archive. For images of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, try the Irish Film Institute which includes documentaries, news reels and Irish culture; the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive with 1900 clips about Scotland; films at Northern Ireland Screen include rural life, true stories, and footage lost and found; and National Screen & Sound Archive of Wales has many films about mining. To add colour to your understanding of your ancestor’s life, watch newsreels dating from 1910 to the 1970s at British Pathé
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Categories: Family history research.

First Edition: The Secret Garden

First published as a US serial in The American Magazine beginning in 1910, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett [below] was first published as a book in 1911. The American edition by Stokes [below] featured illustrations by Maria Louise Kirk, while illustrations in the British edition published by Heinemann were by Charles Heath Robinson. Burnett was born in Manchester, England in 1849 but after the death of her father, she emigrated with her family to the Knoxville, Tennessee, USA in 1865. Read more about the Stokes first edition at Bauman Rare Books. The story Mary Lennox, born at the turn of the twentieth century to wealthy British parents in India who do not want her, is cared for by servants. After the death of her parents she is sent to England to Yorkshire, to live with her Uncle Archibald at Misselthwaite Manor. There she is bad-tempered and dislikes everything about her new home until Martha, a maid, tells her the story of Mrs Craven who loved her private walled garden of roses. When his wife died, Mr Craven locked the garden and buried the key. As Mary wonders about the secret garden, her humour and behaviour improves and she makes
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition: The Hobbit

My worn copy of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein was published by George Allen & Unwin – the edition dates from 1966 – and cost 50p/10s. I’m not sure of the date it was bought for me, I remember reading it when I was about 11 or 12, which corresponds with the dual pricing on the back cover [the UK adopted decimal currency in 1971 and for a time, goods and services had dual prices]. I particularly love the cover, which is an early sketch by the author. The story This is a quest, a journey both geographically and of personality, undertaken by a quiet unassuming hobbit called Bilbo Baggins. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know the story? The themes of personal growth and bravery are rooted in Tolkein’s experiences during the Great War. Never out of print, The Hobbit appears not only as book and film editions, audiobooks and games, but also stage adaptations and video games and countless merchandise. Forget all of that, and go back to the book. The film  Tolkein’s novel was taken by Peter Jackson – director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy – and turned into a trilogy, although for much of
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain “In a sense, writers live their lives twice over. We live in a day-to-day life, but our minds are always turning over the possibility of the transmutation of that life into something else. If, for some reason, I couldn’t be a writer any more, my life would seem rather thin to me, sort of without substance.” [Rose Tremain from ‘A Life in the Day’ in ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’ October 19, 2014] I understand this exactly. I live with my fictional characters, the situations I place them in, considering what might happen to them and wondering how they might react. Quite often the most lucid time for ideas, for me, is on waking, and drifting off to sleep, times when I shouldn’t be ‘thinking about work’. But writing is not work, it’s what I do and who I am. I cannot imagine not writing in some form or another My favourite Tremain book? The Colour, soon to be made into a film. Click here to read a review of The Colour in The Independent when it was first published in 2003. To see what I thought of The Colour, click here. For news about the film of The
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

How Paula Hawkins writes

Paula Hawkins “[she is interested in the ways in which]… our perfectly ordinary lives go horribly wrong… not the violence itself but the psychology that leads up to the violence and how things break down.” [in an interview with Saturday Review, ‘The Times’ August 22, 2015] This is a pageturner, a novel with layers of intrigue, stalking, domestic abuse and fantasy. Inspired by her own commuter journeys on the District Line in London, The Girl on the Train is a film, starring Emily Blunt [below] as Rachel, the girl on the train who, out of the window, has a clear view of one particular house which backs onto the track. Read my review of The Girl on the Train. For more about casting for the film, The Girl on the Train, click here. Thanks to publicity for her first book, Hawkins got behind schedule writing her second, Into the Water, another psychological thriller. “I had actually written the whole thing last year but then I decided I wasn’t necessarily happy with aspects of it, so am rehashing everything about it… It’s basically about these women and how things that happened in their childhood affected them, has driven them apart; how they
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

How JoJo Moyes writes

JoJo Moyes “I’ve been in lots of airports over the last couple of years, but everybody knows someone who is having to deal with that kind of crap. The management structures, the targets, the endless upselling of things, the general dreary corporatisation of everything.” [JoJo Moyes in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, July 10, 2015] After You is the sequel to Jojo Moyes’ bestseller Me Before You. She hadn’t intended to write a sequel, but after the success of the first book she was inundated by messages asking what happened to the character of Lou. So, Moyes wrote After You [below], to be published on September 24 in the UK by Michael Joseph. Me Before You was a huge act to follow. The film featuring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke was released in 2016.At the beginning of After You, Lou is working in an Irish-themed airport pub. Moyes wrote about what she knows. “I’ve done all those jobs. I’ve been that barmaid, I’ve cleaned those toilets. I don’t think fiction always recognises the lives of genuine people. That’s how I grew up and I totally understand it – and I probably softened it a bit. It’s the world I’m interested
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous people, reading… Jack Nicholson

“If you think you’re attractive, you’re always attractive.” Jack Nicholson, actor I’ll have a go at dating this photo. It looks to me around the time of The Shining [1980]. Definitely not The Postman Always Rings Twice [1981] when his hair was shorter and neater. And to me he looks older than when he was in Easy Rider [1969] and Chinatown [1974]. He’d make a great starting point for creating a fictional character. See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Peter Carey Agatha Christie Madonna   ‘The Shining’ by Stephen King [UK: Hodder] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Jack Nicholson: passing the time #reading? #films via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1GT
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Me Cheeta

This book by James Lever was something of a word-of-mouth hit, a spoof autobiography by the chimp which played Cheeta in the Tarzan films of the Thirties, and was recommended to me by my husband. It sat on my to-read shelf for a long time, until I had a tired day when I needed something easy to read. It had me laughing right from page 1. “Dearest humans, So, it’s the perfect day in Palm Springs, California, and here I am – actor, artist, African, American, ape and now author – flat out on the lounger by the pool, looking back over this autobiography of mine. Flipping through it more than reading it, to be honest…” Okay, the laughs don’t come every page, and the section where Cheeta journeys from Africa to New York then Hollywood could perhaps have been shorter. But it made me laugh. The portrayal of some Hollywood stars is wicked, and there are very familiar names: Flynn, Niven, Dietrich, Rooney, Sanders, Chaplin, the Barrymores, and of course Johnny. Johnny Weissmuller. All fictional of course. At times, I forgot it was a spoof, so delicious were the laughs. “It would be true to say that I spent
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Categories: Book Love.

Famous people, reading… Marilyn Monroe

I have two favourite Marilyn Monroe quotes. She was talking about acting, and life, but both can be applied to writing. “Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything.” “It’s all make believe, isn’t it?” Click here to read the last interview with Marilyn Monroe, first published in Life magazine on August 17, 1962. Monroe’s autobiography was first published in 1974 by Stein and Day [below], 14 years after her death, and is still in print from Taylor Trade Publishing. ‘My Story’ by Marilyn Monroe [UK: Taylor Trade Publishing] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Benedict Cumberbatch Madonna Bella Lugosi And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous people, reading… Marilyn Monroe reading about, Marilyn #books #film via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1e4
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous people, reading… Bella Lugosi

Was there ever a better Dracula than Bella Lugosi? Those eyes, those eyebrows. It is many many years since I read Bram Stoker’s novel, but I admit that finding this photograph made me want to read it again. And I am not one for horror stories. First published on May 26, 1897, below is the front cover of the first edition, alongside the poster for the 1931 film starring Bella Lugosi. To watch a You Tube clip of the 1931 film Dracula, click here. See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Jerry Lewis Madonna Benedict Cumberbatch   ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Bella Lugosi: is he reading DRACULA by Bram Stoker? #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1dX
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Categories: Book Love.

Gravity: nothing to do with astronauts

As part of my pre-publication planning, I set up a couple of searches on Google Alerts. The idea was that I would catch all mentions/reviews on the internet for Ignoring Gravity. It didn’t quite work out like that. My inbox regularly gets Google Alerts about… gravity. And a particular movie… and scientific stuff about Isaac Newton and gravitational forces. And astronauts.The title of Ignoring Gravity is in fact totally unscientific. It is an adaptation of a line from the Philip Larkin poem, ‘Love’. To read about how I found the Larkin poem, click here. But Isaac Newton [above, Godfrey Kneller’s 1689 portrait], Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are still relevant: gravity is a basic rule of our place in the world and solar system. Gravity keeps our feet on the ground, literally. When, in Ignoring Gravity, Rose Haldane discovers she is adopted, she realizes finally that she cannot ignore where she came from, that she has to find out the identity of her real family. Family surrounds her every day – her adopted family, and her birth family – as gravity surrounds us invisibly. Rose just has to learn to recognise them. Watch the movie trailer for Gravity, with Sandra Bullock
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Categories: Book Love, Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

If books were real, Hercule Poriot…

Hercule Poirot… would travel with the very best Egyptian cotton sheets from Italian label Frette. And a butler to iron them, of course. Poirot has survived his reincarnation, Dr Who like, through various actors. My favourites are Peter Ustinov in the 1978 film of Death on the Nile [above] and David Suchet from the BBC drama series [below]. Buy the DVD. ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie [UK: William Morrow] Buy now How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Mikael Blomkvist in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo’ Jack Ryan in ‘Patriot Games’ Elizabeth Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Hercule Poirot… DEATH ON THE NILE by Agatha Christie via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1gm
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Categories: Book Love.

Famous people, reading… Gregory Peck

“Inside of all the makeup and the character and the makeup, it’s you, and I think that’s what the audience is really interested in… you, how you’re going to cope with the situation, the obstacles, the troubles that the writer puts in front of you.” Actor, Gregory Peck Is he reading To Kill a Mockingbird do you think? I’m not sure about the pipe, but Atticus Finch regularly appears in those ‘Most Popular Father’ lists which appear around Father’s Day. Peck seems to have been a thoughtful man, here’s another quote: “I’ve had my ups and downs. There have been times when I wanted to quit. Times when I hit the bottle. Girls. Marital problems. I’ve touched most of the bases.” Seems to make him well-qualified to be an actor, or a writer.   ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee [UK: Arrow] Buy now See these other famous people, reading:- Vincent Price Madonna Benedict Cumberbatch And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Gregory Peck: is he reading TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-15e
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Categories: Book Love.

Famous people, reading… Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis “I’ve had great success being a total idiot.” This must be a still from a movie: Jerry Lewis is reading ‘Income Tax Regulations’. The message here, I think, is  find what you’re good at and stick to it. He won a BAFTA Supporting Actor award for his role as talk show host Jerry Langford in Martin Scorsese’s 1983 movie The King of Comedy, opposite Robert de Niro. Click here for an excellent NY Times review of The King of Comedy on You Tube. See these other famous people, reading & writing:- William Golding Marilyn Monroe Jack Nicholson And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Jerry Lewis #reading ‘Income Tax Regulations’ #films via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-11F
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: The Queen of the Tearling

Neither when I chose this book to review, nor when I started reading it, did I know that this was the next best thing. That David Heyman [producer of the Harry Potter films] and Emma Watson [Hermione] are already in pre-production with the film for Warner Brothers. That the author Erika Johansen signed a gazillion dollar deal for the seven-book series. I didn’t know. And I loved it. It’s a ripping adventure story which feels like a medieval tale except for the occasional references to plastic surgery, Harry Potter and mascara. For a debut, it is skilfully handled. This is a dystopian society, post-something [an un-named event] which caused people to feel their homeland [an un-named country] in The Crossing [across an ocean, as a boat was lost] to their new land of the Tearling [on an unspecified continent]. Behind them they left science, books, medicine, education, art, television, you name it they left it behind. They fight with knives and swords. Into this context is thrown a 19-year old girl, raised in secrecy by an elderly couple in rural seclusion. She must become queen of her mother’s nation or it will be lost to the evil ruler of the neighbouring
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… James McAvoy

James McAvoy “I’d rather be working in a green screen studio with a good script, than working in a beautifully realized physical location that has a bad script.” [interviewed by Sophie Raworth on ‘The Andrew Marr Show’, BBC, May 25, 2014] James McAvoy? Actor: The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, the young version of Charles Xavier, the Patrick Stewart character in X-Men, and not forgetting Mr Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Why am I quoting an actor, not a writer? Because he supports good writing. And he likes superheroes. Each faces a human crisis, he explains: “They are all persecuted, they are all closeted, ghettoised…” To visit James McAvoy’s website, click here. To watch part of the BBC interview with James McAvoy, click here. If you agree with James McAvoy, perhaps you will agree with:- Lauren Owen – family relationships are very interesting Barbara Taylor-Bradford – for me it all starts with a memorable character Ruby Wax – I always ask the booksellers to look at me and recommend a book And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: I agree with James McAvoy: better
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Categories: On Writing.

Famous people, reading… Madonna

Madonna “Poor is the man whose pleasure depends on the permission of another.” [reading about Hitchcock] I think what she means is, don’t expect universal approval. I don’t think Hitch waited for the permission of others, either. For more about Madonna at her official website, click here.   ‘The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock’ by Donald Spoto [UK: Plexus] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Jack Nicholson Ernest Hemingway Jonathan Franzen And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous people, reading… Madonna reading about Alfred Hitchcock #books #film via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-Yh
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Categories: Book Love.

Famous people, reading… Vincent Price

Vincent Price “There comes a time in life when you know what you like and have to make up your mind to like what you know, or at least have begun to know. In other words, you must determine in what direction your knowledge is leading, thus far.” Okay… I know what I like, but how do I know I don’t like a book/genre/author if I don’t try it? He is rather contradictory, elsewhere in the same book he says, “There’s something fascinating about seeing something you don’t like at first but directly know you will love—in time.” So, read genre, read literary fiction, read poetry, read memoir, read non-fiction. Read it all.   ‘I Like What I Know: a Visual Autobiography’ by Vincent Price [UK: Open Road] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Marilyn Monroe Gregory Peck Jerry Lewis And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous people, reading… Vincent Price reading a #film script via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-10d
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Categories: Book Love.