Anna Murphy Jameson, A True Pioneer

A True Pioneer

On October 2008, 25- & 26th  we occupied a booth at the Ottawa Book Fair. The doors opened and  within a very few minutes a charming young man made his way to our location, briefly looked about and then scooped up a circa 1845 manuscJameson_Letter_John_boughtript letter  of Anna Murphy Jameson written to “My dear Mrs. Macready,” . This was the very first sale for Lord Durham Rare Books at a live book fair. It was this sale that set us on our way to fame and fortune as rare and fine booksellers.  Well, that’s what we had hoped for.  Anna became one of my favorite people that day and not just as a result of the sale of the handwritten letter but because I developed an interest in she and the other “Babes in the Bush” as I so fondly refer to Susanna Moodie, Catherine Parr Traill, and E Pauline Johnson. Contine reading


Skirting the Issue of ‘passing’

What makes a good man? According to history, on numerous occasions, a woman.

As early as ‘Antiquity’ it is told that a Greek woman by the name of Epopole of Carystus dressed as a man joined the Greek army during the Trojan War.

Of course one of the most famous examples of a woman taking on the appearance of a man in order to fight an enemy is Joan of Arc who led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War and ultimately burned at the stake in 1431 for her troubles. Contine reading


Susana Moodie, a Canadian literature pioneer

Susana Moodie, a Canadian literature pioneer

We had the great pleasure of living in the little village of Durham Ontario for about six years, hence the name Lord Durham Rare Books and this blog The Lord Durham Report. Durham is wedged equidistance between Lake Huron, Owen Sound and Georgian Bay, which  would lead to very long and very snowy winters. It was not unusual to see kids on Halloween night having to try and pull their costumes over snowsuits and fleece wear in order to stay warm. Clever parents would just assume that boots and winter wear would be required and would wisely create a costume that would incorporate these garments hence there were a great deal of ghosts, Frankensteins, and monsters. Contine reading

Emma, Lady Hamilton by Johann Heinrich Schmidt, circa 1800

All is Fair in Love and War

All is Fair in Love and War

In keeping with the theme of love in this February issue of the Lord Durham Report I am reminded of many of the ‘great love stories’ in history. Probably one of the most endearing and enduring is that of Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton.

Nelson and War.
There can be little argument that Admiral Lord Nelson is one of, if not the finest leader in the history of Britain.

nelsonThe tales of Nelson, his bravery, his loyalty and his leadership are legendary. From the time Nelson assumed the command of the Agamemnon in service to Britain against the French in the Revolutionary wars, he became the darling of the seas and the conquering hero. Incredibly as the victim of chronic sea sickness the sea would always conquer Nelson.

Contine reading


A Careless Collection

A Careless Collection

When asked to write about my experience as a collector, I was immediately taken aback as I quite honestly had never considered myself to be a ‘collector’.

My sweaters are not argyle nor are my jackets tweedy and neither are adorned with leather patches at the elbow. I do not immerse myself in volumes of catalogues and on- line auctions. I cannot be a collector as you won’t find me hanging about fellow vendors’ booths as they unpack in an attempt to get the jump on the next guy for that illusive little goody for which negotiations for price ensue followed by the quiet and sneaky exchange, reminiscent of a back alley illicit ‘buy’ No, I am not a collector.

“So, asks the real collector in the family, what is that assemblage of literary works by one specific author on the shelf in the library?”

Oh good grief! I am a collector. Who knew?

My humble little collection of Daphne DuMaurier came about inadvertently as I would suspect as do a lot of collections.  I love the Cornish Coast. If I could I would spend the rest of my life there and die quite happily amongst the old fishing villages, the exquisite rock formations and pounding surf of this spectacular region in England. Contine reading


A Collector’s Story – Breaking the condition rule.

Collecting Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton

In the beginning, I was a collector.

My collection reflected my interest in military strategy as initially I collected Civil War books, notes, maps etc. About the same time Julia and I were working on rebranding McLaren Marketing and in doing so I came across the famous depiction of Napoleon on horseback ascending the alps. This fine piece of work was used in the rebranding and combined with my keen interest in the strategy of war and marketing led me to become fascinated with Napoleon.

Julia, who hails from the West Midlands of England pointed out that “there was another side in that war you know and they won, why don’t you collect Nelson?”

Contine reading

A Traill of Adventure

Catharine Parr Traill

Catharine Parr Traill (1802-1899)

A number of years ago, our middle son attended Trent University at the Catharine Parr Traill Campus. Quite honestly, at the time the name had no meaning to me whatsoever. Frankly I was more impressed with the fact that a) he made it to University b) he was away from home and c) he was paying for it. I was also very surprised by his chosen field of study, that being Canadian History, Native Studies and Women’s Issues.

Fast forward a few years and not only do I recognize the name Catharine Parr Traill I find my life virtually inundated by her books, stories, pictures and history.

Contine reading