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The inspiration behind the cover design for “The Constitutionals”

We love a beautiful book cover and work hard to make our books visually strong. Sally Castle has designed many covers for Two Rivers Press. She writes here about the inspiration for the cover artwork for The Constitutionals by Peter Robinson, which explores and celebrates the therapeutic links between reading, writing, walking and thinking through a fictional treatment of the meditative author’s convalescent wanderings around the town of Reading.

Sally writes:

The illustration started with drawings made as an immediate intuitive response while reading the manuscript. Images such as land marks: the Cemetery Junction arch and the Wycliffe Church; trees: a magnolia and a monkey puzzle outside a house in Eastern Avenue, buildings: New Town terrace houses and the gas holder, the Co-op with clock at ten past six and the green tiled Oxfam book shop. All familiar places to me: literally, in that I was born at 27 Hatherley Road, my grandparents lived at number 30, uncle and aunt lived at 68 Amity Road in New Town. Grandfather and uncle used to meet up at Cemetery junction to watch the traffic!

Several versions were developed combining the images together using watercolour and collaged with an old street map, a receipt from the Co-op (Your store Your say) and Robinson Crusoe as portrayed in an early illustrated edition. The result was also simplified down to a flat linocut print but the watercolour collage with a stormy sky was the best choice to ‘ventriloquize the grateful dead’

Thanks to Peter for asking me to do his cover and to Nadja Guggi for her support, encouragement and working magic with her technical expertise.

Sally Castle’s uncorked artwork for The Constitutionals
Linocut version of The Constitutionals cover design
Final version of The Constitutionals cover design

Sally Castle is a printmaker, illustrator and lettering artist, based in Ruscombe. You can see more of her work on her website http://www.sallycastle.co.uk

Buy a copy of The Constitutionals here.

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Photos from the launch event for Rural Reading

For the official launch of Rural Reading, Adrian Lawson and Geoff Sawers led a walk from the Caversham foot bridge to Kennetmouth, via View Island, pointing out interesting plants and habitats and sharing their knowledge of the green spaces along the way. The sun shone and it was a fascinating walk. And at Kennetmouth there awaited cakes, elderflower fizz and copies of the new book!

By the Thames
Geoff Sawers signing copies of the book
Geoff Sawers, Adrian Lawson (and Rita too!), with Sally and Anne from Two Rivers Press.

About Rural Reading: The book takes us through the calendar year with a selection of articles from Adrian Lawson’s long-running newspaper column, Rural Reading, plus some new and previously unpublished pieces. Accompanied by perceptive and very personal illustrations from Geoff Sawers, equally devoted to the natural history of Reading, this exquisite collection will open your eyes to the wild side of town. Buy your copy here!

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The inspiration behind “Signs of the Times” – Malcolm Summers on his new book about the plaques and memorials around Reading

I had thought that I was familiar with Reading’s town centre. However, one day as I was passing Harris Arcade on Friar Street I was surprised by a plaque that I had never seen before. It wasn’t new; it had been in the same place for over a hundred years! I read: This house was the birthplace of Professor Goldwin Smith DCL, born August 13, 1823, died at Toronto June 7, 1910. A second surprise… not just a plaque I had never seen but a person I had never heard of.

This Reading-born man must have been well known for a plaque to be erected in his memory. This unexpected encounter with an unknown person piqued my interest. I had to find out who Professor Goldwin Smith was and what had made him famous enough that when he died in Toronto, his contemporaries in Reading wanted to honour him. My first discovery was that I had read a brief account of his life a long time ago in Some Worthies of Reading by J.J. Cooper and had forgotten. I then discovered a biography by Elisabeth Wallace, written in 1957, which was an engrossing read. I tracked occurrences in his life through the newspapers, including the striking assessment in his obituary in the Reading Observer that he was ‘one of the most famous men that Reading has ever produced’. By this time, I had begun to understand why and to agree with that sentiment.

Having learned so much about Goldwin Smith, I inevitably brought him into my conversations, usually with the opening ‘have you ever heard of…’ No one I spoke to had heard of him, but many were interested to know more because of his local connection. That led me to the thought of writing about Goldwin Smith, the plaque and why Reading people had wanted to commemorate him. Thus my book, Signs of the Times, was born, with twenty of Reading’s memorials as starting points to look at why that memorial is there, what or who it commemorates, and what was the story behind the setting up of the memorial itself – stories that our forebears thought important enough to fix into local memory.

Find out more about Signs of the Times – available to buy now!

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The Arborealists: The Art of Trees

The Arborealists and Guests: The Art of Trees
14-24 June, daily 10am-6pm
The Turbine House Gallery, Gas Works Road (just by the Prudential Building).

We are delighted to contribute to this exhibition, organised and hosted by the Reading Tree Wardens, with a poetry reading on Sunday 23rd June at 2pm. Hear Susan Utting, Jean Watkins, Ian House and Gill Learner read poems – some of their own, some written by others – inspired by their love of trees. Wine and nibbles will be provided and our books available for sale. Open to all but places MUST be booked as the venue is small. Please book by emailing rtwn2011@gmail.com.

The Arborealists are a group of professional artists whose special topic is the tree and whose inaugural exhibition at The Royal Academy, Bristol, was nationally acclaimed.

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Whiteknights Studio Trail

COME & MEET OUR AUTHORS!

Visit us at the Whiteknights Studio Trail, venue 9 and take the opportunity to tap their brains for historical facts and figures.

Malcolm Summers, author of Signs of the Times at 3pm on Sat 15th June.

Peter Durrant, co-author of Reading Abbey and the Abbey Quarter at 3pm on Sunday 16th June.

And please stay on at the end of the first day to celebrate the publication of The Constitutionals with Peter Robinson at 6.30pm on Saturday 15th June at 24 New Road, with wine, nibbles and readings.