Press Release: Period Piece
The Cambridge Childhood of Charles Darwin’s Granddaughter
Introduced by the author
‘Period Piece is an altogether delightful book… the humour is infectious, the figures endearingly ridiculous and admirable human beings… Mrs Raverat is not a Darwin for nothing’
Gwen Raverat (1885-1957), granddaughter of the legendary Charles Darwin and friend of Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke, is widely recognised as one of the finest wood engravers of the 20th century. But Period Piece is her outstanding achievement, a minor masterpiece of English autobiography, that combines the nostalgia of Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie and the dry wit of the Grossmiths’ The Diary of a Nobody with a charm that is all its own.
In a series of fourteen themed chapters, Raverat presents what she calls ‘a drawing of the world when I was young’, covering everything from religion to romance, education to the vagaries of female fashion, politics to the horrors of the dancing class. The result is a vivid child’s-eye view of life in Cambridge at the end of the 19th century – a lost world of pennyfarthing bicycles, lamp-lighters and long-suffering servants – alongside hilarious and touching pen-portraits of her eccentric family: her freespirited American mother, her father and uncles – the sons of the great Charles Darwin – and her extraordinary aunts. At the heart of it all is Raverat herself, a thoughtful adult in her late 60s, looking back forgivingly at the tomboyish misfit she once was.
This new edition restores Raverat’s text to its original format, designed specifically to showcase over 70 of her evocative line drawings, as well as echoing the distinctive ‘Cambridge Blue’ binding of the first edition. It also features ‘Georgette’, a rare short story drawing on Raverat’s adult experience of an unusually dramatic evening in a sleepy French town.
Bound in “Cambridge Blue” cloth, blocked in gold and featuring an illustration by the author. Set in Caslon. 304 pages. 77 black & white integrated illustrations. Slipcased. 8˝ x 6¼˝.
UK £34.95 US $51.95 Can $69.95 Aus $69.95
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Cathleen P. Williamson