Posted by Anna Campbell Jan 11 2013, 12:02 am
by Anna Campbell
OK, I know I was on yesterday. Everything’s a bit mixed up this week.
As anyone who’s read a couple of Anna Campbells knows, my heroes always have wonderful libraries. Wonderful libraries where they often get to see stars with their particular heroines. There’s another library nookie scene in my October release SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED.
What can I say? I think books are sexy!
And I think my definition of heaven would be to spend eternity in a well-stocked library that got all the new romance releases every month! I’d much rather read all day than play the harp on a cloud. Especially if the library included a nice meeting room or two with a well-stocked bar and lots of booky people to shoot the breeze with.
I would love to own a library – I mean a specific room put aside for books which is full of lovely squashy leather sofas and display tables and a big desk or two. Sadly, the scale of modern houses doesn’t really lend itself to such extravagance. Not to mention the scale of modern bank balances!
In my dreams, all libraries should look like the beautiful one in the top picture which is from Trinity College in Cambridge. Or the one in Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the home of the Duke of Marlborough, which has been the model for most of the libraries in my books. Mind you, it includes a full scale pipe organ which my dream library could do without (and please, no organ jokes! We’re a clean-living lot here in the lair!).
The libraries I grew up with looked more workaday, like the one in the picture to the right just above. But it doesn’t really matter what a library looks like. It’s the wonderful accumulation of wisdom and information and adventure and emotion and drama and beauty between the covers of the books that really counts. I love the way in a library, you have the whole universe at your fingertips.
So I guess you could say I definitely belong to the I LOVE LIBRARIES club.
This love affair started very early. The first library I met was at Redland Bay primary school where I grew up outside Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. This wasn’t a big library but it definitely produced many treasures. One book I remember with particular fondness was A BOOK OF PRINCESSES, a Puffin anthology with wonderful short stories about, you guessed it, princesses. Hmm, I can’t see that having any influence on my future choice of writing career, can you? Snork. I must have read that at least ten times. A lot of the stories were really sad (there was an Oscar Wilde one I remember with a dwarf who loved a very nasty princess from afar and with a tragic outcome) but they were all beautiful.
The library also seemed to specialize in series of girls with careers. I remember an intrepid girl reporter (Cherry someone?) and Shirley Flight, an air hostess and a nurse whose name escapes me. There were shelves and shelves of Biggles books but they were strictly a masculine preserve. And I remember devouring old hardback editions of the Famous Fives by Enid Blyton which seemed to be as far as the library extended in the direction of my favorite author at the time.
Toward the end of my primary school days, the American Consulate in Brisbane gave us some wonderful American books – this was back in the days when the U.S. used to use cultural diplomacy to win minds and hearts in allied nations. Lots of Mark Twain and Washington Irving. Can’t remember much else. Definitely classics!
A more fertile ground for exploration was the council library in Cleveland about eight miles away. My parents had a farm and worked most days so my grandmother was responsible for babysitting. She was a great reader (she was responsible for my Barbara Cartland obsession in my early teens) and used to take my brother and me to the shire library on a regular basis.
Oh, what bliss!
I remember ranging widely and once I’d finished the children’s section, I moved onto the adults. For some reason, the books I remember best from the Cleveland Library are mainly children’s biographies of famous women. I particularly remember a series which covered people like Florence Nightingale and the Stuart Queens, Mary II and Anne, and, my favorite, the Bronte sisters. I also loved the history section – I think often kids’ books are still great for research because they tell you the basic stuff you need for things like what a medieval castle looked like or what a milkmaid ate in Georgian London. Those books really fed my imagination!
The local library also had a wonderful selection of fairytale collections. Things like Grimm’s Fairytales and Greek Myths and Legends of the British Isles. I remember with particular fondness the Charles Perrault collection which had the original of Beauty and the Beast and the Sleeping Beauty. Again, clearly stories that have had no influence on my future path at all! And I loved the books of stories from opera and ballet. Basically pretty fairytale too!
So are you a library lover? Did you have any good libraries available to you when you were growing up? What were some of your favorites? Do you have any childhood library memories to share? Let’s take a wander down the Dewey Catalogue of Nostalgia!
Posted in Anna Campbell, Brontes, Childhood, Education, Enid Blyton, libraries, reading, writing life