The Life and Times of a busy bookseller, her husband and Gordon setter dogs in North Norfolk.

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Born In Essex, UK.
School in Luton.
College - Sussex.
Worked in Cambs.
Now Living in Norfolk.

Monday, 30 September 2013

York National Book Fair 2013

As usual, despite being well aware that York Fair was coming, and even managing to put a few items on the York Website, the Fair seemed to suddenly creep up on us, and we suddenly found ourselves frantically packing boxes of books and trying to decide just what we should take with us.

Once loaded up and on our way, the journey took just under 4 hours, and we were soon unpacking the same boxes of books onto our usual stand on the mezzanine.  It was good to see some of our usual neighbours from years gone by,  and have a chat. It took some hours to get the stand set up, and then it was off to our lodgings for a nights sleep. When I looked at my iPad to check on internet orders, I saw an urgent request for a book that we had luckily brought with us to York. The customer wanted it posted the next day, to arrive on the Saturday as a 30th birthday present.  Obviously, although we had the book, we didn't have all our packing equipment etc. and no knowledge of local post offices, but as it was for a special occasion, wanted to help.

Next morning it was back to York Race Course for the book fair. The first thing we did was get the code for our iPad so we could communicate with the customer who wanted the book sending. We got a postal address and Jeff dashed off to find a post office and negotiate for a special special delivery that would guarantee postage delivered on a Saturday and a decent Jiffy Bag.  He managed to get back for the beginning of the fair.

It always takes a little while for customers to start finding their way up the stairs, but they soon started to filter upwards, and we began to see some new and some familiar faces find their way to our stand. It was especially lovely for us to meet a Scottish customer of ours, who we have dealt with for years, and who had decided to come and meet us face to face, by coming to this fair, staying overnight and returning to Scotland the next day. I do hope she didn't find us too disappointing. For our part, we thought she was delightful.

This book fair is the largest in the UK, and some people find it tiring and a bit overwhelming. Many come for both days in an attempt to get round it all.  There appear to be lots of satisfied customers. We saw lots of people walking round with bags, stuck down with the famous security tags. We certainly sold quite a few books I am pleased to say, as did our fellow stall holders.  At the end of the 2 days, I'm not sure who were the more tired, the customers who had been trudging around concentrating on all the books, or the stand holders who had spent 2 days talking and working. However most seemed happy. Then it was back to dismantling the stall and the 4 hour drive home, but some had further to go than us. One dealer came from Aberdeen, anorexic from Cornwall, so our 4 hour drive was quite local.

I enjoy the York fairs, both this one and the January one, which although a bit smaller being just 1 floor, is always a successful one too.the atmosphere is usually good, the people friendly and the fair a pleasant event. Hope t see you soon.

As yet I haven't worked out how to transfer my pictures onto here, so I shall put them on Peakirk Books Facebook page for now if you want a look.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Collecting Ephemera

I know, I have been slow to blog again. It could be to do with work, work, work,  that and trying to keep up with the never ending round of social networking with social media. I now not only tweet - as one does on twitter, but have a facebook page, and a Peakirk book facebook page to maintain ( - please please 'like' it if you have a moment, it means I get extra information from the people who run it!).  I am also well and truly 'Linked in' - oh what a social networking whirl, how did I ever manage before with pen and ink and the boring old telephone. However, for business reasons, I am told, one has to do these things, so I try my best, and trail along behind 'tweeting' and 'poking' and anything else I should be doing to generally make a nuisance of myself and generally get me and Peakirk Books noticed.  I'm not convinced it works, but with so much competition out there in the book selling world, you have to do your best. Meanwhile, my poor old Blog has been neglected.

During the summer there have been fewer book fairs to attend, although, starting with the large international one in York, they will soon be back in full swing. However it is the time when Vintage Paper Girls and our ephemera make more of an appearance at Fakenham Market - the flea market on a Thursday, in the car park near Argos for those who know it!  As ephemera is paper based we have to anxiously watch the weather forecast every week to see whether we can attend. Rain, damp or excess windy weather does not mix with paper on the stand. Knowing how accurate the weather forecasts are (cough, splutter) we spend an anxious Wednesday deciding whether to pack up the car or not, before making our way to the stall on a Thursday, bright and early.

When I tell people that I have a new string to my bow, in the business sense, and that is the selling of ephemera, a puzzled look crosses most of their brows.  It's often a word that they have heard before, but are not sure just what it is. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they try to just look knowledgeable, but unless I am talking to people in the book trade, most people don't know just what ephemera is - and its quite difficult to explain. I believe the Ephemera Society call it broadly 'the minor transient documents of everyday life' - but I suspect if I quoted that, most people wouldn't be a great deal clearer. It includes the many thousands of printed and handwritten oddments that civilisation emits daily -  tickets, receipts, menus, pamphlets, brochures, letterheads, ............daily living in scraps of paper. As we live, we produce paper, in both handwritten and printed formats. We produce lists, keep records, write reports, send cards, produce certificates, send bills, invoices & receipts, we advertise, we produce newspapers, magazines, journals, comics,information sheets.

Some paper is produced to last minutes, some a day, some longer. Most pieces are quite transient. Some are produced quite basically and dully. Some are produced quite beautifully and decoratively.Most are somewhere in between.

In the more recent past, the layman & general collector has begun to join the academic student such as the graphic designer and the social historian, in acquiring and appreciating ephemera. 1975 saw the founding of The Ephemera Society (London) - and as the subject is so vast, they have had exhibitions themed on ephemera divided into certain areas eg their fifth Annual Exhibition featured items from collections from 60 of their members based on Transport and Travel. Under the title 'Going Places' the exhibition included paper fragments from the age of the stage coach to Space Exploration.

It included Baggage Labels, resort stickers, travel folders, posters, handbills, ship-board menus, passenger lists, airline boarding cards, stagecoach tickets, hotel brochures, touring maps, postcards, passports, timetables, broadsides, travel orientated toys & games, confectionary wrappers, cigar labels and much much more.

These little scraps of paper, put together, tell a story. Some are ordinary, some are quite beautiful. Some are common, some remarkably scarce - after all, they certainly weren't meant to last.  Many certainly tell a story.   We find them fascinating - and we have lots of them for sale on our stand - in Fakenham, and soon in Kings Lynn at the flea Market there on September 7th  and back in Norwich at St. Andrews Hall on September 14th. Hope to see some of you there soon.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Peakirk Books July Sale

Peakirk Books are now having a July Sale - on our own site at

This is valid on all books EXCEPT Girls Gone By and Elsie Oxenham Society Published ones. This means 99.5% of all our stock is eligible.

To take advantage of this use the Code TREAT at the checkout and you will get a 20% discount for all of July 2013.

You can use this code as many times as you wish during the month of July.

Heroines on Horseback by Jane Badger

Recently published by Girls Gone By, Jane Badger has written a great reference book, which is also doubles as a stimulating read, covering the development of the 'Pony Book' from the early 20th century through to the 1960/1970's.  This is in no way a dry encyclopaedic type reference volume, but an interesting examination of the most significant pony book authors of this period, discussed in a lively and informative way, and illustrated throughout. Jane's own interest in and enthusiasm for these books shines through the book throughout.

'Heroines' has a great cover, illustrating a multitude of old favourites that I recognise from my own stock of pony books, and they are gorgeous books indeed. The contents of her book are well organized, including a history of the pony story covering the early Black Beauty style Pony Biography, progressing through Primrose Cumming and the famous Silver Snaffles, and devoting a chapter to the pony book in wartime. The Pullein-Thompson Family get their own chapter as does Monica Edwards. There are then several chapters covering several authors in the heyday of the1950's and 1960's, and a discussion of the pony books of the 1970's The book also contains a discussion on illustrators, short stories and annuals, so the content is really quite rigorous. I would thoroughly recommend this book as both a good read in its own right and a handy reference work on the subject of pony stories in the twentieth century.


We currently have a few copies of Jane Badger's Book for sale 'Heroines on Horse Back' at 16.00 while stocks last on our website at

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Dorothy Eileen Marsh Heming aka Dorothy Carter

I started investigating Eileen Marsh a little when a customer asked me to look out for books on girls/women who who flew planes in stories. Obviously certain authors crop up regularly, and the more I dug around, the more interested I became in what I discovered about Eileen Marsh/Dorothy Carter.  I soon realised that when 'Women with Wings' was written (Mary Cadogan 1992), she wrote it not realising that Eileen Marsh and Dorothy Carter were one and the same, but then that was some 20 years ago. Since then a couple of people have done some research and discovered that not only are they the same person, but also several other 'authors' come under her umbrella as well. Thus I have decided to put together here what I have discovered thus far, for the use of people who are interested, and of course if anyone has anything else they would like to add or correct (as I can't 100% guarantee this,) please do contact me to let me know.

Dorothy/Eileen was married to Jack Heming, also a children's author, who was writing at a similar time. In turn his brother was Bracebridge Heming, another author of the period. It is rumoured that Jack and Dorothy went to London and had a meeting with someone, possibly W E Johns, and they decided that the book writing future was in aeroplane stories for children, and Jack launched into the more action orientated style, where Eileen delved into more relationship styled books - but then chose to diversify into different styles under different names.

The first sign of any published written work by this author appears to be around 1936 when suddenly she takes the published world by storm.  However it isn't always easy to follow her publishing history as her works appear under a variety of names. She wrote in all using about 16 names, many of which, but not all,  were variations of family names.  The pen names she used that I am aware of are as follows:

Eileen Marsh - 26 books
Dorothy Carter - 14 books
Elizabeth Rogers - 9 books
Guy Dempster - 8 books (boys war)
Martin Kent - 6 books
D E Marsh - 6 books - aimed at boys.
Eileen Heming*
Dorothy Marsh*
James Cahill*
Rupert Jardine*
Jane Rogers*
Mary St. Helier*
Dempster Heming
D E Heming
John Annerly
E M Shard

* -books by these authors   were mainly published by Lutterworth as Sunday school prizes. Occasionally she used these names to write adult novels. She didn't write many by these authors.

Thus 1936 saw Dorothy Carter publish Flying Dawn, which may have been her 1st book, but was certainly a very early publication.  However in 1936 she managed to get 7 books published in all, 4 by Eileen Marsh, 1 by Dorothy Carter, 1 by Martin Kent and 1 by D E Marsh. 1937 was even more productive with 12 books published - 5 by Eileen Marsh, 1 by Martin Kent, 2 by D E Marsh 1 by James Cahill, 1 by Guy Dempster, 1 by Elizabeth Rogers and 1 by E M Shard.  She continued this vast output for years and produced 120 books and short stories until 1948,.her short stories included 5 for Girls Own Paper:

1. Edna - Night Watcher (May 1939)
2. Mays Monoplane (June 1939)
3. Lizzie of the bush (August 1939) - an exciting one
4. Patricia's Party (September 1939)
5. Sally's Solo (February 1940)

One of her most popular series were the books she produced under the name of Dorothy Carter featuring her heroine Marise Duncan.  This was a series of 6 books that were published between 1937 and 1944, and featured her favourite subject - girls flying aeroplanes.

In the first book Mistress of the Air (1st published in Girls Own Paper in 1937, but later transferred to book form in 1939) Marise aims to compete in, and of course win, the King's Cup air race (as in reality Winifred Brown did in 1930). In her 1940 book, 'Star of the Air', we see Marise go to Hollywood,  'Queen of the air' takes her  to Canada - and that is the end of the peace time Marise books - from there on, it is Marise Duncan in a world at war. 1941 sees her in Germany in Sword of the Air, 1942 in russia in Comrades of the Air and 1944n the Far East/Japan in Marise flies South. These last 3 books are without doubt much more difficult to find now than the earlier books, so whether the print runs were shorter due to paper shortages - or even due to their war related material, who knows.  Without doubt the most difficult to locate nowadays is Comrades of the Air - and if anyone reading this has a copy they would like to sell - please contact me ( as I have a customer extremely anxious to complete their set, who would be very interested in buying it!

You would think that with Eileen specialising in writing about girls who fly, that she would have been a pilot herself, but this was not the case.  She did have a few lessons, but that was as far as it went.  She certainly did not have a pilot's licence.  Likewise you would have thought with so many of her books being set around the world - Canada, Africa, the USA, even up the Himalayas, that she would have been well travelled, but no, she had not visited many of the places she wrote about.  Her stories were written whilst at home bringing up her 4 children.  She must have read a good deal herself, and had a good imagination.

Sadly Dorothy died in 1948 - still relatively young.  Having written so much, and cared for 4 children, I can only imagine she was very tired.              Heather

At the time of writing the books pictured above (and many more by this author) are available for sale on our website at - 'search' for them there for further details or/and to purchase.

I will add to this as and when I have time.

To order

I would like to thank Professor Stephen Bigger for the information I have gained from his work on this author.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Apologies for my absence, but now I'm back!

It's been a while - a long while, since I last posted. Over 6 months - and an extremely 6 months for me.  I can only apologise to anyone who does take the time to read my updates, but my life got rather over taken by family matters, and my mum being ill, and living over 4 hours away, meant that I had rather a job keeping on top of just exisiting and keeping our main business and my little extra business running, let alone other extras like blogging. Something had to give, and it was blogging, tweeting and other such things that gave (along with Christmas, holidays and other such niceties). However, despite poor old mum having a very rough time, being hospitalised for a long time, and having a long recuparation period, I am pleased to say she is home again.  I can't say she is totally well, but probably as good as she will get, and at least managing to live at home for now, which is what she desperately wanted - as did my dad. So for now, life is calmer.  I am not 'on the move' as much - well other than treking about to book fairs as usual, and things are on a more even keel. We will all enjoy that for now and hope it lastsd a while until the next crisis occurs - which it inevitably will.

During this period book matters inevitably continued. Recently we heard of the sad death of James Herbert, the renowned author of Horror books.  Personally I have never enjoyed being scared out of my wits whilst reading a books (or watching a film for that matter), but fully appreciate many people do enjoy this genre, and that James Herbert was quite a master of this style. Thus he will inevitably be a great loss to the people who loved his books.
Other notable authors that died during my 'absence' include Dr. Han Suyin (November 2),Crime writer Margaret Yorke (November 17th), British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore (December 9th) - who of course wrote several childrens books, fiction as well as fact, as well as his astronomy for adults.Creator of the Thunderbirds, Gerry Anderson (December 26th) and of course Jan Ormerod, author and illustrator of many books for young children (January 23rd).

My 'other' little business of ephemera is going from strength to strength I am pleased to say. Annette and I - Words Gone By, have a regular stand at the Norwich Flea Market once a month at St Andrews which is a great little antiques & collectors fair. It has a good atmosphere, and there are always lots of potential customers through the door. We have quite a few 'regular' customers now, and really enjoy it.  We are looking forward now to the weather improving so that we can re start our stall on Faken Market on a Thursday.  Our stock doesnt mix well with rain and wind, so we have to wait for brighter days, but as soon as we see spring arriving we shall be back.

The book fairs have been busy as usual. This year we have already been to York, Cambridge  and Harrogate, and Jeff will be off to Stamford shortly.  He can do this one alone, as it is only a 1 day fair, which means the doggies do not have to go into kennels or have dog sitters here, I can stay with them.

Anyhow - that is our last 6 months - in brief, and from here on, I will do my best to keep up - providing no more emergencies come to call.

Keeping Fingers firmly crossed