Which book(s) have you owned for the longest time?

In the past I have been called Time Walker amongst other less appealing names. Although easy to call an ‘age thing’ I have always been an ‘owner’ of books from a very early age. For various reasons I have been wading through my 3,000 + hardback books, and as ever Nostalgia kicks in.
My oldest ‘owned books’ are a small collection of ‘How to Draw’ ones by a now defunct place called The Studio in London. I remember buying these over three Christmasses from a bookshop off ‘slab square’ in Nottingham where we spent Christmas each year. They were my Christmas presents to myself, from the family.
From dodgy memory I recall they cost 1/6p a copy. As they were bought well before my secondary Art School at 13 years old, I must have been about 10 when I got them.
What is fascinating to me is how early my artistic tastes arrived, and that more than 65 years later they remain very much the same in subject matter.
I have them before me as I type - all under the title of ‘How to Draw’

  • Hands, Cars, 'Planes, Churches and Cathedrals, and Ships. Looking through the list of offerings the only absentee is Locomotives. Last publishing date I can find is 1948, and I bought them new.

they were indeed the start of a lifelong love of books and of course Art.
Anyone else as daft as I am with hanging on to books - and if so what were they?

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I have kept a set of Children’s Encyclopaedias that my dad had when he was a boy, they date back to the early 1900s. The political correctness brigade would have a blue fit.


I have a book on dinosaurs my mum bought me when I passed some “exams” at primary school…& a book called “The Cave Twins”, bought from the bookshop in Braintree, which was my first book with words & no pictures…I was about 6, maybe a smidge younger

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One of my earliest memories from about 1950 is of “reading” a book laid on the floor, too big to hold, sitting on the floor alongside the bookcase where my parents keep their large picture books - copies of beautiful paintings from various galleries - The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt, Dante and Beatrice by Henry Holiday and so on. And a wonderful Complete Shakespeare with pictures - Bottom with asses ears and Titania (of course) absolutely fascinated me - and early photos of eminent actors and actresses, Henry Irving, Lily Langtree, Ellen Terry, Herbert Beerbohm-Tree. Although never “my” books, they are still with me. When my parents came to live with us in their final years their books came too. And I could never part with them. I have bookshelves filled with them, The Reprint Society books - beautiful hardbacks in burgundy, green and beige covers with gold-edged titles. Novels, travelogues, biographies. I promise myself, “one day when I am old and have the time I will read them all:slight_smile:


Was that one of the “twin series”? I had a whole load of them, and kept them as I had kept all my childhood favorites…until I re-read a couple of them a few years back and realised they were racist and sexist drivel! The pickaninny twins was particularly bad! So I have thrown the lot away apart from the French Twins. They are too awful even to go to a charity shop.

I have however kept another favorite - Patapoufs et Filifers, which my mother bought me in French and English - Fattypuffs and Thinifers. My mother was big on education and we weren’t allowed sweets, bicycles or musical instruments but she never said no to books.

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I am the current owner of an 1895 Mrs Beetons book of Household Management In which is a christmas pudding recipe written by my great grandmothers own hand when she and her husband ran the Junction Hotel in Dorchester,Dorset. My grandmother spent her early years there and inherited the book when her mum died when my Nan was 12 years old. Later the book passed to my mother and then to me.
It is a cherished possession.
It now features in my latest book that I have been working on for the last 2 years which I hope to publish soon but just when I think the end is in sight more research produces more pages!


Would they be in the Pear’s Collection?

Reminds me of the Heron Books Collections that I garnered in my teens - sent on approval! Never sent one back!
Somewhere they disappeared and I know not where.

No idea Jane, I’m afraid.
It was my first “real” book…
that’s all I know.

ETA It’s by Lucy Fitch Perkins…whom I believe did write some other “Twins” books

‘Five on a Treasure Island’ (63 yrs) and ‘Just William’ (maybe longer). The latter still has a brown paper cover my Dad must have put on to protect it from my sticky fingers.

I know what you mean - my ‘A History of Propaganda’ was coming along nicely and then Trump came along!
It’s the appeal though isn’t it - the research? Finding an unknown reference?

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You really were an early starter!

You just reminded me of the Tom Merry books of my extreme youth! once a year we went to Littlehampton for our caravan holiday, and there was a newsagent there that always seemed to have a new set of them. Can’t remember who wrote them but they held me over the (usual) wet weather.

I had few books as a child, but am at this moment sitting in a room with about 2,000 books, a few in my possession since my early teens, so maybe 50 years.
This has inspired me though to think about what might be my oldest book - first thought is this little red leatherTennyson - 1878 (no comments on the dusty shelf please!).
The Idler - just peeking into shot from the shelf below - is 1892.

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Actual ages of books are only important to me as and when I find and use a visual reference for my own books, but although it seems to be changing now (before virus ) I found a lot of old French books and as my reading improved so did the numbers of French language ones appeared on my shelves. I suppose all my books hold some memories for me, or reminders of something. I found a very battered, but complete Maritime History book which can only be read at a table as it is at least 7-8kgs weight, plus loose pages everywhere. I was surprised to see a good version offered at €250 a few years back. I only paid €2 for mine. My oldest book is another damaged one of a Sketchbook by George Cruikshank (one of the illustrators in my 1912 London Edition collection of The Works of Charles Dickens, plus of course one of the leading caricaturists of Napoleon, so probably dated somewhere about 1820? It does not carry a date but the paper and binding (looped stitch) is of the times.

Content is everything to me though, but price does come into it of course! I just love books!


I don’t remember Tom Merry but I looked him up… Tom Merry is the principal character in the “St Jim’s” stories which appeared in the boy’s weekly paper, The Gem, from 1907 to 1939. The stories were all written using the pen-name of Martin Clifford, the majority by Charles Hamilton who was more widely known as Frank Richards, the creator of Billy Bunter. Yikes!!

Swallows and Amazon’s

And all of the other stories as well. Picts & the Martyrs, We Never meant to go to Sea, Swallowdale, Peter Duck, Great Northern. Every Christmas another 2-3 Green, hard backed Arthur Ransome books in my Christmas stocking. They, among many others taken out of my parents’ loft and disposed of, all those years ago when I left home. So here I am years later with a set of paperbacks for any younger guest in the cottage who wants to read them (though not this year).
But those were not my earliest books by any means. I was already 7-8 by the time I was reading these. But I do remember sitting at the top of the stairs in my pyjamas with a Ladybird book on my lap, reading from the light of the hall downstairs, my parents in the lounge, thinking I was asleep. If I say it was a story of a dog with long floppy ears who was a gardener??? I wonder.

Got them all somewhere, in green hardback complete with drawings (I think). There was another one, Chinese story but can’t remember what it was called :thinking:

Missie Lee?? Or something like