Heading to the sun this summer? Why not eschew the usual literary grist and instead turn your minds and digits to tomes more scholarly and gentlemanly? We beg to propose the following list of stimulating summer reading, available at all good antiquarian booksellers.
An extraordinary biography of the creator of modern fashion, and arguably the father of modern branding. Fascinating detail about the rise of his name, his extravagant fashion parties and his relentless courting of celebrities which far from being a modern phenomenon were very much part of Poiret brand in the early 1900’s. Nice story about buying a suit from Hammond & Co.
A biography of George VI told through his love of shooting and the country; lots of descriptions of grouse moors, birds you may never have heard of, dogs, tweed suits, kilts. Some excellent photos of royal persons standing (and sometimes lying) in heather. Lovers of the George Orwell Diaries will enjoy daily weather updates and exhaustive list of game shot with precise notes (‘Mallard very chary, but a lot of teal came in’).
Painstaking illustrations of the badges of British and Irish regiments embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework, alongside military histories of each regiment and the story of the inner meanings of the motifs within their badges. A foreword describes the origins of regimental identifications. Most of the regiments featured have sadly since been disbanded or merged. My copy, which previously belonged to a John Duncan Cran, has hand written notes on regimental tartans and marches which is an additional bonus.
Biographies and portraits of 72 military icons from the year 1900; their campaigns, their successes, their defeats. Extravagantly moustached almost without exception, many beautifully behatted.
The story of the ups and downs of John Lobb the bootmakers of St James’s. An excellent pun of a title. Some detail on the early history of shoemaking itself, interesting accounts of celebrity clients from Nobel Prize Winners to Olympic Medallists, and some details of the Lobb family's fondness for racing pigeons and frogs. Written in 1972
Published in 1960 a lighthearted and enlightening look at the style and dress of arguably the best dressed and most photographed man of the 20th century, told through anecdotes about his early life, his family, and particularly his wardrobe. Also heavily featured are his father's rebukes (I must beg of you not to drive fast’, ‘Eat more, it all depends now whether you develop into a strong healthy man or remain a sort of puny half-grown boy’), and his adoration for the ways and style of his grandfather, the brightly tweeded, opulent, Edward VII.
The Duke of Windsor’s more sombre telling of the story of his life in private and in public, his views on duty, and the story of his abdication. Candid, with lots of colourful detail about the daily realities of his rather strange life. Great photos of him in a bewildering array of outfits, including possibly the best trousers ever. Published in 1951
England in all its weirdness. Mummers plays, mischief nights, pie poudre courts, wassailing, boys doing really unsafe stuff with blazing tar barrels, bottle-kicking scrambles, sprinkling flour on the ‘Toss Pot’s’ wig and all manner of other brilliant, potty and often downright dangerous activities that took place, and in some cases continue to take place, in villages, towns and cities across the UK