Thursday, 19th January 2012
The South Polar Times has been published at long last! It is five years since I first saw the originals, and over two years since we started working on it in earnest, but we still went to the wire – the books were delivered on January 17th, one hundred years to the day since Scott and his companions finally reached the South Pole. The publication is causing quite a stir – the New York Times has already run an article about it, and the Observer and The Times are also planning features. We have donated a copy to the ship’s library of the Orion, which runs tours to the Antarctic, and to the Explorer’s Club in New York for a charity auction, as well as to the three British institutions where the originals are housed – the Royal Geographical Society, the British Library and the Scott Polar Research Institute.
Talking of the British Library, I was there the other day looking at John Martin’s illustrations to Paradise Lost. He produced two different sets of mezzotints for the poem, one for the quarto and one for the octavo edition of the book, and as you can see even in this rather shaky iPad photo there are significant differences between the two. Mezzotints are extremely hard to reproduce – the shadow detail tends to get lost when they are photographed – so I am on the lookout for an unbound set of the prints (either format) from which we could scan direct, and thus achieve a quality worthy of the originals. If anyone knows of such a set, do let
Niroot Puttapipat came in the other day with the binding artwork for his next book. There are four blocking passes (copper, silver, gold and black) on a tan material. The separations are things of beauty – here they all are. No prizes for guess which book he’s working on!