Mrs. Beeton was born Isabella Mary Mayson in 1836. She married the publisher Samuel Orchard Beeton when she was 20, and within eight months of her marriage she was editing both the cookery and the household columns of her husband’s Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. It was at Sam Beeton’s suggestion that she began collecting recipes for a book on household management. The first instalment of The Book of Household Management was published in 1859, and the rest followed in monthly intervals. She was just 25 when she finished the book. Only the first and second editions of 1861 and 1863 were wholly her work and they form the basis of The Shorter Mrs. Beeton published by Sheldrake Press, revealing the youth and freshness of the original. She died of puerperal fever a week after the birth of her fourth child, at the age of 28.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson is the author of numerous cookery books, including Olde English Recipes, Pepys at Table and The British Museum Cookbook. She acts as a historical consultant to the English Tourist Board and to various film and television companies, and also gives regular lectures and demonstrations for cookery schools and historical groups all over Great Britain and the United States. For Sheldrake Press she wrote The Victorian Cookbook.
Gordon Biddle is a past President of the Railway and Canal Historical Society and a leading authority on railway architecture in Britain. He is the author of Victorian Stations, The British Railway Station (with Jeoffry Spence), Railway Stations in the North West and Great Railway Stations of Britain: Their Architecture, Growth and Development as well as three volumes on canals and waterways. For Sheldrake Press he wrote The Railway Heritage of Britain: 150 Years of Railway Architecture and Engineering with O. S. Nock.
Frances Bissell made a dramatic entrance into the world of cookery when, in 1983, she entered and won an Observer competition for the best dinner party menu to accompany Mouton Cadet wines. The contest brought her immediate recognition and, at the suggestion of Jane Grigson, she used the personal food diaries she had kept for over a decade as material for A Cook’s Calendar, published by Chatto and Windus. A further book, The Pleasures of Cookery, epitomizes the approach to food that has made Frances Bissell such a popular author. Winner of the Glenfiddich Award for Cookery Writer of the Year and the first woman chef to become a member of the Académie Culinaire de France, she is now the author of nine books including Frances Bissell’s West Country Kitchen, The A-Z of Food and Wine, Modern Classics and Entertaining. For Sheldrake Press she wrote Ten Dinner Parties for Two.
Douglas Botting (1934-2018) was born in London and educated at Oxford. He was a writer and photographer who travelled on numerous scientific and filming expeditions to wildernesses around the world. He made three journeys through the Amazon basin, once as official photographer for the Royal Geographical Society Expedition to the Mato Grosso. He journeyed across East Africa in a balloon to observe and photograph the great game herds, and led two expeditions to the little-known Arabian island of Socotra. He was one of the first Westerners in modern times to venture across Arctic Siberia and, as a member of the European Conservation Project Operation Seashore, he circumnavigated the 6,000-mile coast of the British mainland twice on assignment for the BBC and The Times.
Douglas Botting made many documentary films for television, including the BBC World About Us series, and worked on assignments for Time-Life, The Geographical Magazine and national newspapers. His books include works of reportage and travel, amongst them One Chilly Siberian Morning, Wilderness Europe and Rio de Janeiro, as well as biographies of the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt, the naturalist Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water, and Gerald Durrell, the conservationist and author of My Family and Other Animals. He also wrote several books on the history of the Second World War.
Asa Briggs was born at Keighley, Yorkshire, in 1921 and took his first degree in History and Economics. In the course of a distinguished career, he was Professor of Modern History at Leeds University (1955-61) and Professor of History at the University of Sussex, where he was Vice-Chancellor from 1967 to 1976.
His main field of interest was the social and cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries, on which he wrote many books, including The Age of Improvement, Victorian People, Victorian Cities, Victorian Things, A Social History of England and a four-volume history of broadcasting.
Lord Briggs was made a life peer in 1976 and became Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, later that same year. At the age of 92 he published his final book, Loose Ends and Extras, in which he reflects on our relationship with time. Lord Briggs died in March 2016 at the age of 94. He is survived by his wife Susan Banwell and their four children.
For Sheldrake Press Lord Briggs wrote The Power of Steam: An Illustrated History of the World’s Steam Age.
Alexandra Carlier is a distinguished cookery writer and broadcaster. She was a key contributor to the highly acclaimed Time-Life Good Cook series and to the Carrier’s Kitchen series published by Marshall Cavendish. She is the author of The Dinner Party Book (Collins, 1986), a regular contributor to Taste magazine and a guest cook for The Times. For Sheldrake Press she wrote Ten Late Breakfasts.
Jacques Constant started his career as a newspaper and magazine journalist in Holland and the Dutch West Indies. He now devotes most of his time to writing and editing books. He has had work published under the names Jac G. Constant and Jacques G. Constant. For Sheldrake Press he wrote Amsterdam: Portrait of a City.
Brigadier John Faviell was born in Blackheath in 1898 and died in Kent in 1984. He had a distinguished military career that spanned both World Wars. Following his education at Cheltenham College and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, he was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in 1916 and served on the Western Front, where he was wounded and mentioned in dispatches.
After the war he spent some time in Ireland during The Troubles and then three years in India, followed by two years at the Staff College at Camberley. He was in Palestine during the Arab rebellion of 1936 where he was wounded and won the Military Cross. In the Second World War he served with the 9th Highland Division and later was appointed to a senior post at the War Office.
In 1942, John Faviell married the widow of Sir Alec Russell. He was awarded the O. B. E. in 1943, followed by the C. B. E. on his retirement in 1950. From 1951 to 1959 he was the Defence Advisor to the Conservative Research Department.
For Sheldrake Press Brigadier Faviell wrote The Railway Journeys of My Childhood.
Harry Graham (1874-1936) was an establishment figure who didn’t quite fit the mould. He started off conventionally enough with Eton, Sandhurst and the Guards, but the irrepressible entertainer in him kept bursting out, and by 1910 he had become a full-time writer. He was engaged to the American actress Ethel Barrymore, great aunt of Drew Barrymore, but she added him to her list of spurned suitors, among them Winston Churchill. Four years later Graham married Dorothy Villiers. They had one daughter, Virginia, also a writer, whose correspondence with Joyce Grenfell was published in 2000. She authorized and oversaw the anthology of Harry Graham’s humorous verse published by Sheldrake Press under the title When Grandmama Fell off the Boat: The Best of Harry Graham, Inventor of Ruthless Rhymes.
Frederic V. Grunfeld was born in Berlin in 1929 and educated in Switzerland, England and the United States. A writer and cultural historian, he lived in Mallorca from 1961 until his sudden death in 1987, shortly after completing Wild Spain. During those years he travelled from top to bottom of mainland Spain. He wrote extensively for Time-Life Books on Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia as well as on places beyond Europe.
His books include Berlin, Prophets without Honour (a history of German Jewish thinkers and artists), The Art and Times of the Guitar and Wayfarers of the Thai Forest (a survey of the Akha tribe of Northern Thailand). He also wrote a biography of Auguste Rodin, for which he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He was successively the editor of Queen, a roving editor of Horizon and contributing editor of Connoisseur. For Sheldrake Press he wrote Wild Spain: A Traveller’s Guide.
Robin Guild acquired an international reputation as a designer of interiors, ranging from small studio apartments and country houses to the cabins of motor yachts and private jets. Co-founder of Designers Guild, he worked for many well-known clients including The Rolling Stones, Joan Collins, Trevor Nunn and the Saudi royal family. He designed the interiors of Ralph Lauren’s London clothes store as well as Brown’s and the Empress Garden restaurants. His book The Finishing Touch has been translated into four languages. For Sheldrake Press he wrote The Victorian House Book: A Practical Guide to Home Repair and Decoration. He died on 27th August 2006.
Adam Hart-Davis is the irrepressibly enthusiastic presenter who romps across our television screens bringing excitement to all manner of scientific and technical subjects. Instantly recognizable in his bright and eccentric clothes, he has enlightened his viewers on all manner of topics from the development of nuclear fusion to boiling the perfect egg. He made his name presenting shows such as What the Romans Did for Us and Local Heroes and has a long list of books to his credit, from serious titles like The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide and Engineers through to the light-hearted Stringlopedia and Taking the Piss: A Potted History. After attending Eton College, he read chemistry at Merton College, Oxford and did a PhD in organometallic chemistry at the University of York and three years of post-doctoral research at the University of Alberta in Canada. He spent the next five years working at Oxford University Press, where he edited scientific texts and chess manuals. In 1977 he began his career in broadcasting, working for 17 years at Yorkshire Television, first as a researcher and subsequently as producer of series such as Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers and the school show Scientific Eye. In the 1990s he presented two series for Yorkshire Television, Local Heroes and On the Edge. Local Heroes proved immensely popular and was moved to BBC2. As well as the Romans, he did programmes on what the Victorians did for us, not to mention the Ancients, the Tudors and the Stuarts. He has collected fourteen honorary doctorates in addition to numerous awards for his services to engineering. He discovered while making a television programme that he is a distant cousin of the Queen, David Cameron and John Julius Norwich.
For Sheldrake Press he wrote Very Heath Robinson: Stories of his Absurdly Ingenious World.
Jan den Hengst, born in 1934, went to horticultural college in Boskoop and later emigrated to Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia. There he got into arable farming and landscape architecture. He returned to Europe in the 1960s and took up photography in Cologne. He has been working as a freelancer ever since. As well as providing photography for several publications, Hengst has written and illustrated his own book, The Dodo, the Bird That Drew the Short Straw. For Sheldrake Press he photographed Amsterdam: Portrait of a City.
Born on 12th May 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, Katharine Hepburn was the daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, by whom she was always encouraged to speak her mind. She attended Bryn Mawr College where, in 1928, she received a degree in History and Philosophy. It was here that she decided to become an actress, appearing in many of the college productions. With four wins, Hepburn still holds the record for the most Oscars for Best Female Actress, and is probably best known for her roles in The African Queen and Bringing Up Baby. For Sheldrake Press she wrote and recorded World of Stories, a set of six classic European fairy tales. She died in 2003, at the age of 96.
Robin Hunter (1929-2004) was a skilled and versatile performer and writer in the field of musicals, music hall and comedy. The son of the actor Ian Hunter, he appeared in many film and television roles such as Up Pompeii, the Carry On films, Sherlock Holmes and Poirot, and performed in several musicals including Damn Yankees. He was a talented playwright and wrote comedies such as Botome’s Dream in which Shakespeare is put on trial for plagiarism, and Aladdin & His Microsoft Compatible Floppy Drive Laptop. For Sheldrake Press he compiled and presented The Illustrated Victorian Songbook with Aline Waites and David Wykes.
Tim Jepson was educated at Oxford where he studied English Literature. He is the author of six books about Italy and has a particular interest in Tuscany and Umbria. He lived in Italy for five years and wrote for The Sunday Telegraph as their Rome-Italy correspondent. He has covered other areas of the world in Train Journeys of the World, Mediterranean Wildlife and the Rough Guides to Canada and the Pacific Northwest. For Sheldrake Press he wrote Wild Italy: A Traveller’s Guide.
Miles Kington was a writer, humorist and jazz double-bassist. He wrote 16 books, innumerable articles and more than 4,500 newspaper columns. Among them was the much-imitated ‘Let’s Parler Franglais’ series, a delightfully absurd hodge-podge of two languages that cast a satirical eye over the vagaries of English life. Who better, then, to introduce the dark absurdities of When Grandmama Fell off the Boat: The Best of Harry Graham, Inventor of Ruthless Rhymes?
It was his love of music that brought Miles his first professional job as a writer, when The Times employed him as a jazz reviewer in 1965. He then joined the staff of Punch, and in 1970 became its literary editor. His daily column ‘Moreover’ appeared in The Times from 1980 to 1987, when he moved to The Independent. He presented numerous TV programmes including the series Steaming Through Britain, and more than 60 documentaries on an eclectic range of subjects including General de Gaulle, Jean Paul Sartre, Brezhnev, Franco, Django Reinhardt and John Betjeman.
The consummate professional, Miles Kington wrote indefatigably to the very end. Even his final illness provided material for a book, How Shall I Tell the Dog? His last column appeared in The Independent on 30th January 2008, the day he died.
Brendan Lehane comes from an old Irish family and has lived for long periods in Ireland. He has written, among other books, The Companion Guide to Ireland, Dublin, The Compleat Flea, Natural History, The Power of Plants, a survey of the influence of plants on human life, and The Quest of Three Abbotts, a view of life and spirituality during the golden age of Irish Christianity. He has travelled in Africa, America, the Middle East and continental Europe, and has written articles for the Telegraph Magazine and many other publications. For Sheldrake Press he wrote Wild Ireland: A Traveller’s Guide.
O. S. Nock (1927-1994) was one of the most prolific railway writers in Britain. Formerly Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company, he was the author of more than 100 books on locomotives, engineers, railway companies, signalling and railway operation in Britain and overseas. For Sheldrake Press he wrote The Railway Heritage of Britain: 150 Years of Railway Architecture and Engineering with Gordon Biddle.
Richard Olney (1927-1999) was one of America’s foremost cooks and a member of the Académie Internationale du Vin. He began writing about food and wine in 1951, when he took up residence in France while pursuing a career as an artist. He was the author of numerous articles for magazines and journals and a regular contributor to Cuisine et Vins du France. He was the chief consultant to the Time-Life Good Cook series, and has written a number of highly regarded books, including the French Menu Cookbook (1970), Simple French Food (1974), Yquem, a history of the wine of the Château d’Yquem (1986), Romanée-Conti (1991), Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook (1993) and Lulu’s Provençal Table (1994). For Sheldrake Press he wrote Ten Vineyard lunches, re-issued as French Wine and Food.
Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987) was an English composer, pianist and writer. She composed scores for radio and television productions, and collaborated with writers such as C. S. Lewis and Dylan Thomas. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London where she won a prize for her violin sonata, which was subsequently broadcast by the BBC. When she graduated from RAM in 1925 seven of her songs were published, and five more in 1928.
After spending time abroad, she joined the BBC at the beginning of the Second World War, and became the director of music in the European Service. She left briefly in 1945, but returned in 1947 in order to advise on the creation of the BBC Third Programme. Between 1955 and 1961 she was the president of the Society of Women Musicians. For Sheldrake Press she arranged the scores of A Book of Christmas Carols with Malcolm Williamson.
Philip Pullman has been named by The Times as one of the ‘50 greatest British writers since 1945’. He is best known for His Dark Materials (1995-2000), a trilogy of novels which has found an audience with adults and children and has sold 15 million copies worldwide. In 2007 it was made into the blockbuster film The Golden Compass which earned a staggering $150 million, as well as a play at the National Theatre, winner of two Laurence Olivier awards. Northern Lights, the first book in the trilogy, was named the all-time greatest Carnegie Medal winner following voting by both a librarians panel and the public. Dubbed by The Guardian as ‘one of the supreme literary dreamers and magicians of our time’, Pullman has long been an admirer of Heath Robinson’s genius and has expressed his unreserved support for the opening of the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner. The first volume in his new trilogy The Book of Dust was published in October 2017.
For Sheldrake Press he wrote the Foreword to Very Heath Robinson: Stories of his Absurdly Ingenious World by Adam Hart-Davis.
Jack Simmons, doyen of British railway historians, was born in 1915 and died in 2000. Apart from The Railways of Britain, first published in 1961 and unassailably his best-known work, he has written and edited a number of highly regarded books on transport history, including St Pancras Station, The Railway in England and Wales, 1830-1914, Transport Museums in Britain and Western Europe and The Railway in Town and Country, as well as two volumes in the 11-volume Visual History of Modern Britain, of which he was General Editor. He was appointed to the History Chair at the University of Leicester in 1947, was a member of the Advisory Council of the Science Museum from 1969 to 1983, and for three years was Chairman of the National Railway Museum Committee, York. For Sheldrake Press he wrote The Railways of Britain: A Journey Through History.
Aline Waites, actress, comic and playwright, has written or co-written at least 25 musical plays and revues. For many years she and her partner, Robin Hunter, collaborated on scripts for plays, revues and musical theatre of all kinds, and together they wrote The Illustrated Victorian Song Book.
Malcolm Williamson (1931-2003) was a composer whose works include symphonies, film scores, chamber and keyboard music and ballets. Born in Sydney, Williamson received his earliest musical experiences in the Anglican church where his father was a priest. By the age of 12, he was studying at the Sydney Conservatorium under Sir Eugene Goossens. He moved to London in 1950. There he worked as a proof-reader for a publishing house while performing as an organist and choir master and playing piano in a nightclub. He began to compose full-time in the 1960s and was named Master of the Queen’s Music in 1975. He was the first non-Briton to hold the honorary position, in which he wrote music for state occasions. For Sheldrake Press he arranged the scores for A Book of Christmas Carols with Elizabeth Poston.