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Friday, December 3, 2010

Introducing The Bedside Lilliput….

Along with many odd interests, I have for some time, had a lingering fascination in the history and content of a little and long since deceased literary magazine called Lilliput.

Lilliput was founded in 1937 and was dedicated to humour, short stories and little pieces on art and literature and so on. I first became aware of it because it was Lilliput that first published Sisters by a River, the first novel (maybe you can’t quite call it a novel, but that is another blog post) by one of my favourite writers, Barbara Comyns. The novel was published in instalments under the title “The Novel Nobody Will Publish” and that rather acted as a catalyst for somebody to publish it.

When I took a closer look at the annals of Lilliput, I discovered that Barbara Comyns was very much at the non famous end of its contributors. Here was a magazine which regularly featured the work of Nancy Mitford, Monica Dickens, V. S. Pritchett, Robert Graves and Patrick Campbell to name just a clutch.

My “Lilliput project” has been a casually looking out for information and references kind of affair – rather than a fiendishly searching and hunting down every tiny clue mission. Maybe that is why it has taken me so long to find that which I now proudly hold in my hands: a lovely volume called The Bedside Lilliput.

The Bedside Lilliput was published in 1950 and draws together short stories and other snippets that appeared in the magazine between 1937 and 1949. In his foreword the editor Richard Bennett wrote:

“There is always the possibility that Bedside Books may actually be placed beside beds. If this should happen to the Lilliput Bedside Book, may I wish the reader a good bedside lamp and pleasant dreams?”.

I know that it is 60 years since publication, but yes, Mr Bennett, you can, and thank you very much. It is right by my bed, and I hope to blog about its contents as I go along.

5 comments:

  1. Brilliant! And I love Mr. Bennet's commment.

    Also, I have more Barabra Comyns on the way to me ... Christamas reading ... since I discovered her through your posts.

    I am preparing to curl up with a cat and a book.

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  2. This sounds great! I almost bought myself some Comyns for the holidays but got distracted with my long standing wish list. I love the Richard Bennet comment. How did you track this one down? Would I be able to buy it anywhere?

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  3. That is exactly the kind of book my dad would have--I'll have to look through my parents stacks to see if they have it.

    Short stories are such treats and I love the time period these days. I have a collection of du Maurier short stories on my bedside table right now!

    I've always wanted to read Monica Dickens.

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  4. A perfect, perfect book. I might just look for a copy myself. Even the so-called 'women's magazines' used to feature good fiction writing by good authors. I would love to have lived in that kind of golden age of magazines.

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  5. This is exactly the book my dad owned, a Irish provincial doctor who lived in Somerset, England. And yes, it was beside his bed, then mine. if you enjoy Lilliput you might look out for Argosy, a similar but less fun, literary magazine from the 40's and 50's.

    John Mallen Singapore

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