When I lived in England, I saw this book in a Red Cross consignment shop window front:
The bus stop was situated just past the consignment shop, so I peaked in almost every day (the shop didn’t open until a half hour after I got on the bus.) I rarely bought anything, but the day I saw this book, Chaucer’s Poetical Works, I decided I had to have it. I was on a big Chaucer kick at the time; he’s so clever, and I feel clever attempting to read his Middle English! About a month earlier, I bought a kid’s version of The Canterbury Tales, published in 1922, on the Isle of Wight, fueling my desire for a complete version of The Canterbury Tales.
I particularly liked the leather edges and binding with the gilt crest in the center. The crest reads: Bridlington High School for Girls *Laetus*Sorte*Mea*, translated from Latin into ‘happy in my lot.’
Bridlington High School for Girls was located in East Riding, Yorkshire, and was an all girls private boarding school. Unlike U.S. high schools, which cater to 15 to 18 year olds, this school would be considered a secondary school, teaching students from the age of 11 to 16. The school opened its doors in 1905 as a private school, and in 1975 merged with Bridlington School (the all boys school) to become public. In 2009, the main building, seen in the photo below, was converted and renovated into an apartment complex, but the building still retains some of its original attributes.
This book also has beautiful top edge gilt pages, which helped protect the pages from moisture. Can you see the slight iridescent shine to the pages?
On the inside, the end papers are marbled, and there is a lovely book plate inserted on the left board:
Phyllis Everard won this book in 1915 for receiving 73% percent in her marks for the year. In the US, this is a D on the 7 point grading scale, and you may be thinking, ‘how could she have received a book for receiving a D?’ In England, the grading scale is very different from the U.S. Seventy percent and above is considered a distinction (like getting an A), 60-69% a merit (a B), 50-59% a pass (a C), and everything below 50 is a failing grade. I wish they still gave out nice leather bound books like this for getting an A!
After seeing the photos and reading this object’s history, you now might be able to understand, besides the beauty of the book itself, why I felt I needed to have it. The leather binding, the Middle English, AND its early 20th century history? This book was sold solely based on its cover. The only thing better would have been buying it in the city of Canterbury.
Bridlington Free Press. ‘Plaque marks old Bridlington High School for Girls.’ Bridlington Free Press. 2 March 2009. Web. 20 July 2013 http://www.bridlingtonfreepress.co.uk/news/local/plaque-marks-old-bridlington-high-school-for-girls-1-1726968 2.
Jones, Christine. Flamblogger: H is for….’ Flamblogger of Flamborough Head. Blogger. 7 September 2010. Web. 20 June 2013. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_z4pNJVIJq98/TIbyqHDfl6I/AAAAAAAAFhM/LqJ650znm50/s1600/BHS.IMG.jpg- sept 7 2010.