Here is the new shop window – the Susie Cooper box set, the Every Good Deed fabric, the painting of Tirzah Garwood and Charlotte Bawden, a homegrown squash given to us by a Persephone reader, a tea cosy, a book about Tirzah – and so on.


The Alchetron blog has some very interesting videos of Susie Cooper talking.This is a ‘Moon of Mountain’ jug, it was designed in the late 1920s.

Susie Cooper(1)

A picture of Susie Cooper herself (photographer unknown, but a good one: it might be Richard Holt in 1978) with the brilliantly positioned hat and coat and her face showing that she has had a long (but fascinating) working life.

susie cooper coffee set in box

And the second reason we are celebrating Susie Cooper is a more tangential one: last week we launched The Persephone Box Set (details here) and we hope that six Persephone books will look just as stylish in their brown cardboard box as these six coffee cups – which will be, in their original box, in the shop window; the only difference being that Persephone books will be a great read – for ever – whereas  (in a way that our mothers and grandmothers could never have anticipated) coffee cups and tea sets are now almost redundant domestic items. Yes, occasionally we give our friends coffee (or peppermint tea) after dinner and yes it is fun to have a beautiful matching set. But no young couple would nowadays be given, or long for, sets of cups and saucers. Which is why Susie Cooper’s work is not better known. Nowadays it’s all mugs, mugs and mugs (indeed we sell five different kinds in the shop: Annabel Munn‘s (a collector’s item), Nicholas Mosse‘s Old Rose pattern, Emma Bridgewater‘s Pomegranate, Brixton Pottery‘s Blue Diamond mugs (two sizes) and the Jansen Espresso cups – naturally in grey.


We are celebrating Susie Cooper (1902-95) on the Post this week, partly because we love her (she owned, managed and designed for her own pottery works) and partly for a couple of particular reasons. Here is the first. Who knew that Susie Cooper designed fabrics? This is 1953, she designed it for Cavendish Textiles, and it’s at the V & A. And since we are doing a 1953 novel next autumn (Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton) this textile will be perfect: it’s very ’50s, it’s designed by a woman, it’s a floral pattern (appropriate for a novel about five sisters living in the country) yet the polka dots suit a novel about young girls – and it’s very beautiful.

Nash, Paul, 1889-1946; St Pancras Lilies

Paul Nash would often have caught trains from St Pancras: and many Persephone readers do the same, having visited us at the shop ten minutes away. This is St Pancras Lilies 1927. Thanks heavens, it was a big fight, but St Pancras still exists as it did when it was built.

Nash, Paul, 1889-1946; Landscape Composition (Objects in Relation)

‘Landscape Composition (objects in Relation)’, 13 x 15 cm (and thus very nearly actual size when reproduced here) formed part of a model art gallery that was created in 1934 for the art dealer Sydney Burney for an exhibition called ‘Children Throughout the Ages’ in aid of the Greater London Fund for the Blind. ‘Each artist was asked to contribute an original miniature artwork, and thus it forms a miniature artistic time capsule of the period, featuring over thirty artworks by artists including Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Tristram Hillier, Ivon Hitchens, Augustus John, Cedric Morris, Edward Wadsworth – and Paul Nash.’  ‘Landscape Composition’ is normally at the Pallant in Chichester but will be at Tate Britain (from next week) and then Norwich and Newcastle.


So the war ended and, incredibly enough, Nash went back to his ‘normal’ life as a painter. This is Berkshire Downs 1922, it’s at the National Gallery of Scotland, which says on its website : ‘Many of Nash’s paintings, even those executed when he was an Official War Artist, have trees and landscapes as their main theme. He regarded trees as symbols of Nature’s permanence in a changing world. In the early 1920s, Nash made several painting expeditions to Whiteleaf in Berkshire. He was often accompanied by his brother John, an accomplished landscape painter’ (and some of us might think that Tate Britain should be celebrating both Nash brothers; but because Paul was a Symbolist he was much better known).

Nash, Paul, 1889-1946; The Menin Road

Paul Nash was a quite extraordinary war artist: the (excellent) blog ‘Paul Nash and World War One’ has as its heading his words: ‘I am no longer an artist. I am a messenger to those who want the war to go on for ever… and may it burn their lousy souls’ (here). And in 1917 he wrote: ‘Imagine a wide landscape flat and scantily wooded and what trees remain blasted and torn, naked and scarred and riddled. The ground for miles around furrowed into trenches, pitted with yawning holes in which the water lies still and cold or heaped with mounds of earth, tangles of rusty wire, tin plates, stakes, sandbags and all the refuse of war… In the midst of this strange country… men are living in their narrow ditches.’ The Menin Road (which is three metres wide and two metres high) was completed in 1919. Nash was thirty.


Paul Nash (1889-1946) is the subject of an exhibition at Tate Britain which opens in ten days; and because the Persephone Letter is (unfortunately) so fiercely political this week (Michelle, Gina Miller, The Pickle, A United Kingdom, I Daniel Blake etc etc) something a little anodyne might have suited the Post today. But no, Paul Nash was not an anodyne painter. This is We are Making a New World (1918). It’s normally across the river at the Imperial War Museum, there is a paragraph about its imagery here.

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