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This week, Wednesday March 20th, marks our twentieth year of publishing. There will be a party in the shop from 12-8, do try and come along: we shall have smoked salmon sandwiches, cake, tea, and champagne and a rather special ‘going home’ present. The Persephone Post this week celebrates our perennial bestseller Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (PB no.21) and its marvellous illustrations by Mary Thompson. Here is our heroine knocking on the wrong door and meeting the glamorous Miss Delysia LaFosse.


Cockerels. This is a particular favourite of ours because on the mantelpiece we have two life-size nineteenth- century ceramic cockerels. We would not have bought them but, after several decades, cannot imagine living without them. They look very like Kate Mears’s painted version. Yes, maybe it’s time they had an outing in the shop window. Meanwhile: next week is our twentieth birthday – our first three books were published on March 20th 1999 – and the Post will celebrate the date with pictures from Miss Pettigrew, our bestseller without which we would not be here. There is a party in the shop from noon-8 pm at which cake, champagne and tea will be served, and a rather splendid ‘going-home’ present. Although we have to admit that the continuing Brexit agony has sapped much of our joie de vivre, but if you have a moment please do come along to cheer us up, hear about our plans for the next twenty years, and talk about the books which, after all, are the reason for our being here.


Thursday KM

Every painting is accompanied by some of this characterful writing. (The Pink Sheet is village news delivered to each household,)


Tulips: this is the kind of painting that needs no words. But we are happy to hear from Kate Mears that copies of her book are being despatched all round the world. Since Lydia and I are hopeless at Google Analytics (the statistics that tell you how many people look at the Post) this is a marvellous confirmation that people look at it; well of course, we know they do because they write to us, and indeed occasionally we do look at Analytics. But it’s delightful to know that Persephone readers see the paintings and buy the book – so speedily!

Tuesday k

The kitchen dresser at the former Georgian vicarage in North Curry, Somerset. Kate Mears’s book is still available (for a mere £13 including postage) here.

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A few years ago the artist Kate Mears wrote a book  called A Year Around Our House. It is the kind of book we all long to write but it is rare to have both the writing and the artistic skills to be able to do so. It’s simply text and paintings, and wonderfully done. This is January: The Fireplace, Drawing Room. The text says: ‘This room is so beautiful it is flooded with sunlight, which is why I keep painting it. It is also the only time it is warm.’ Here is Kate Mears’s website. We now sell her cards in the shop.


Another politician, and she in fact appeared on a stamp; it shows that Angela Merkel had a huge heritage of women politicians lined up behind her. Dr Gertrud Baumer was also a prolific writer. What amazing women, and these are only five out of seventy-seven, each of whom looks extraordinary. The only murky thing is, sometimes, their political affiliation, and also one has a sense that very few of the women were Jewish (although there is Elisabeth Bergner of course), however without googling each of the names that is just a guess and may be quite wrong. Is there an equivalent book for British women?


Another fascinating person. When this photograph was taken Mechtilde Furst von Lichnowky’s husband, a landowner and diplomat, had  recently died. She was a prolific writer, whose work was  banned by the Nazis. She married an Englishman, Major Ralph Harding Peto in 1937, but when she visited Germany in 1939 she was interned and placed under house arrest for the duration of the war. She never saw her second husband again: he died in September 1945. During the war she  wrote a book analysing the absurdities of Hitler’s pronouncements: for her, the barbarity of the Nazis was obvious from their language alone. (But of course this in itself was an exceedingly brave thing to do because if the manuscript had been discovered she would have been shot.) The book was published some years after the war. In the summer of 1946 she settled in London


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Whoever compiled the book had a very good eye for the interesting person. One looks someone up slightly diffidently, not expecting their name to come up on the web, only to discover that in the case of  Marie Elisabeth Luders (don’t forget the five to go on the Post were chosen simply on looks – interesting and memorable – not for who they were, because in fact we had never heard of any of them) she was ‘a German politician and one of the most important figures in the German women’s rights movement’. This from Wikipedia: ‘Her lobbying group and writings were more or less banned in 1933 by the Nazis,  who then proceeded to jail her in 1937 for her outspokenness. She was released after four months, due to international outcry from women’s rights groups and diplomats alike. After the war, she joined the Bundestag. During her time in parliament, she worked on women’s rights issues. She was unmarried, but had a son in 1922, which was considered scandalous at the time.’ Actually it’s rather humbling – if one goes on looking Marie Elisabeth Luders up on the web she is obviously very very well-known in Germany, there is even ‘The Marie-Elisabeth Luders Haus in the new government quarter of Berlin.’


Cilly Aussem, a tennis champion, was only 21 in 1930 but by the end of that year was second in the world rankings. She had a charming and delightful personality, cf. the rather interesting Wikipedia entry here and encyclopedia.com here.

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