And finally our absolutely favourite for this time of year – blue hyacinths. These are from Crocus but of course they are easy to buy either as bulbs about to come into flower or, expensively, as bunches of cut hyacinths. They make the shop smell glorious; and then suddenly, after about ten days, turn manky almost overnight and the smell becomes cloying and sickly-sweet, a signal that they are ready for the recycling bin.

daphneFunny to think that a bunch of flowers will be over in a week but a Daphne plant will last for years and years, spreading its marvellous scent the whole of February. This one is available from Gardening Express here (and there seems to be a very good special offer whereby you also get yesterday’s scented shrub, a Mahonia, free of charge).

Mahonia_x_media_CharityThe Mahonia in the garden has enough scent to knock one out from two metres away – another plant to buy for the garden or even a large earthenware pot, this one comes from Burncoose in Cornwall. The leaves are a bit intimidatingly prickly but the divine scent in January/February makes up for their harshness.


Happy New Year to every reader of the Post. We hope you all had a glorious holiday season. One of the nicest presents we received at Persephone Books was a sprig of  Wintersweet with its incredible scent (to be found in the shop for the next two three days until it fades away). So this week on the Post: plants with a delicious smell at this time of year – since there is nothing better (apart from a good book) to cheer up the dark (literally) days of January.We have now treated ourselves to a Wintersweet for £12.99 (from Crocus), which doesn’t seem a fortune, in fact it’s the same price as a Persephone book, and since the sprig we were given came from a garden in Highbury, it will, we hope, flourish in any London garden.

robert james gordon

The painting on the front of our Classic edition of The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Woman Reading by Robert James Gordon. HAPPY CHRISTMAS  to all Persephone readers. The Post will resume next Thursday 28th December, which is when the shop re-opens.

By English Painter Francis John Wyburd 1826 - 1893…

Portrait of a Girl in Green Reading (actually Blue-Green) is by Francis John Wyburd (1826 – 1893).

young woman reading a book 1934 aleksandr;  deineka.jpg 1899-1969

What an intelligent and attractive expression on her face! Young Woman Reading a Book 1934 was painted by Aleksandr Deineka (1899-1969): three of his paintings are in Red Star Over Russia: a Revolution in Visual Culture 1905-55 at Tate Modern until mid February. Here is an article about him. But Young Woman Reading was clearly an uncharacteristic work for him.

Henri Matisse (French, - Reading Woman with Parasol [Liseuse à l'ombrelle], 1921

Woman Reading with Parasol (or rather should Liseuse a l’ombrelle perhaps be Woman with Parasol Reading?)  was painted by Matisse in 1921.

Reading at a Cafe (ca. Jane Peterson Reading at a cafe

On the Post this week: women reading i.e. what most Persephone readers would rather be doing as they make mince pies, chop the red cabbage and apples, whip the cream. No, that’s a horrible thing to say, we love all the Christmas preparations, But who isn;t longing for Boxing Day when they might be allowed a few hours on the sofa with a Good Book? Reading at a Cafe c. 1920 is by Jane Peterson (1876-1965), she was American and if we ever did Fidelity as a Classic this would be the picture on the front.


There is a new exhibition at the V & A devoted to Winnie the Pooh and E H Shepard’s illustrations, so this week the Post is devoted to the latter. We reproduce (and give as a postcard with every copy of the book) the beautiful E H Shepard watercolour which he painted for the original jacket of Greenery Street by Denis Mackail. It’s about a young couple’s first year of married life in a small house in Chelsea and is one of our most beloved books: the perfect present for a young couple, a Londoner, or anyone interested in 1920s social history. Or a really good read. PG Wodehouse called it ‘so good that it makes one feel that it’s the only possible way of writing a book, to take an ordinary couple and just tell the reader all about them.’

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