Saturday, April 28, 2012


Some of the most difficult South African books to locate are those that relate the origin and historical development of towns and families,largely because those that own the books are reluctant to part with them and tend to hand them down to their children.Also most of these books have been to commemorate either the 100th or 150th anniversary of the founding and were published in relatively small numbers.
For those who could be interested I do have the following available :
Sterkstroom 1875-1975
Wepener 1869-1969
Richmond Yesterdays by Alice Hope
Kerksoewenier van Riebeek-Wes Driekwarteeufees,1858-1933
Irene by Nigel Helme
Frontier Post,The Story of Grahamstown by Joy Collier
The Story of Hottentots Holland,Somerset West,The Strand, Gordon's Bay and Sir Lowry's Pass by Peggy Heap.
Not only do these books tell a  story but also are a good source of family history and information, particularly when they are indexed.
Also Afrikaans family histories are much sought after and needless to say hard to find !

I currently only have  "Die Retief-Familie in Sud Afrika" deur Dr.P J Retief

For more information either go to my web site or e mail me on


The interest in W E Johns 's "Biggles" stories continues to amaze and delight me.The author's output ran for many years both before and after World War 2 and whilst there have been some modern reprints,mainly in paperback ,the original versions are those that I am so often asked for.It does help to have read these stories in one's youth !
A very nice copy of  "Biggles of 266",first edition,Dean, complete with good original cover has just arrived together with "Biggles Breaks the The Silence"(4th imp) and a nice paperback edition of "William and the Brains Trust" by Richmal Crompton.
Should anybody like a list of avaible Biggles or Just William titles available just send me an 'e' on

Friday, April 27, 2012


It would be hard for anybody today ,whatever their age, to be unaware of the tragic sinking on her maiden voyage ,in the North Atlantic,of the giant ocean liner "SS Titanic" with the terrible loss of life of over 1500 souls .
Whilst I cannot bring myself to watch the movie I have learnt a certain amount from the many publications,notably the various books by Robert Ballard who located , filmed and photographed the wreck at great depths.
What particularly caught my imagination was the heroic story of the 8 piece 'orchestra' who continued playing mainly 'rag time' throughout  the tragedy whilst others tried to find their way to safety.They all perished including their leader Wallace Hartley.I have for some time , as an amateur genealogist, been compiling an extensive family tree of my wife's family ,who are Hartley's, who originate from the Yorks/Lancs area of northern England.I discovered that Wallace who was born Walter Henry Hartley in Colne, Lancs was probably a second/third cousin of my wife's family dating back to the family in Chorlton just South of Manchester.There is in fact a museum dedicated to Wallace and his orchestra members in Liverpool.When Wallace's body was found some 200 miles away from the wreckage area he was still wearing his bandsman's uniform and a thick overcoat etc.Very brave and very sad !His body was returned to Colne and there is a monument on his grave site,complete with a violin his instrument.

Should any one like any asistance with finding books on this tragedy please do not hesitate to contact me on
Similarly if any Hartley's would like any information regarding the "family" I can be contacted as above


Just a few further words about the great man ! Now 79 years old and living in his London  home with his lovely fourth  wife.The old "Lion of Africa" apparently only writes a book about every 3 years,can't blame him for that.Seems he has moved further and further away from his African roots !
His books remain collectable, particularly the earlier Heinemann publications,mostly written with the assistance of his late wife, Danielle Thomas,and if you can find signed copies of these hang on to them.They are rarer and rarer.
I recently had occasion to write to Wilbur about a series of signed copies,supplying him with photographs, dating back to the 1970's ,just to verify their authenticity as a certain Welsh "gentleman" who boasts of a close friendship with the author, attempted firstly to buy them and then, when unsuccessful, cast aspersion that they were forgeries.Whilst he has not yet replied I have no doubt that he has already, knowing the straight forward guy that he is reputed to be,clarified the authencity to the Welsh "gentleman" concerned.
If you require any information or availability regarding Wilbur Smith first editions and /or signed copies drop me an e on ''.  Be glad to assist.


If perchance you happen to see an old guy with a grey beard shuffling along with a crutch in his right hand in a secondhand or charity bookshop in Pretoria clutching a pile of books in his free hand,think of me ! 8 long months after having a new steel and plastic ankle joint fitted by a top surgeon I am still suffering extreme pain ! and cannot walk as far as I could before the surgery ! And I wanted it ! I pursued my medical insurance scheme for a year before they would approve the scheme.Crazy aren't I ?
Anyway I can get around  and will not give up as I approach my 75th birthday,only a few week after my namesake Jack Nicholson has reached the same milestone ! Love you Jack just don't take too many Viagra at once !
That apart the lure of finding books is still as strong as ever.Just do me a favour ,don't ask me a to find you a book and the next day order it from someone else the following day ! No wonder booksellers wont try and find books for customers.
For me I love to look for books and my spirit for that remains undeminished.Not many people have had my early good fortune as a 16 year old starting his life in a major lending library in London and could walk to work every day up Charing Cross Road in Central London passing the then myriad of bookshops that then existed.Yes even passed No 84 of movie fame !
And a big thank you to all the people who offered me their seat or places in queues even if I politely(I hope) declined.
Well that's my excuse for not keeping my blog up to date !

So ,yes, times are hard ,money is in short supply ! There are always books for you. Many shops are closing in the face of falling sales and increasing rentals. (It is amazing how many landlords would rather have empty shops than lower rents to keep them occupied !).
Keep browsing that's the fun of it.
Talk to me if you have a book problem ! (27) 12 361 5144 or as long as it is in working hours.