-written by Diane Newland, Darwin BooksellerFather’s Day as a celebration of fatherhood, has only been honoured in the UK since round about 1910 when it filtered through from America, but Father’s Day actually dates back to the Middle Ages in Catholic Europe, and in the Coptic church, the celebration of fatherhood possibly dates back to the fifth century.
These days however, Father’s Day sometimes seems to slip through the net, and never gets enough celebrating, in my mind. A father’s influence on his children should never be under-estimated, and the positive impact of a good father is worth honouring with huge respect and appreciation. Here is a very apt poem that I found while sorting through a box of rare and vintage books yesterday; (a very timely find!)
Being a father is a great privilege and a huge joy. It is also a massive commitment. Many fathers toil away at their jobs, shouldering responsibilities at work, then go home and do even more for their families. These champion dads deserve great respect, and our riotous applause.
Here is a collection of classic reads that your father just may have read in his boyhood, and which probably helped to make him a strong, courageous, heroic presence in your life. A rare or vintage edition of one, or more, of these titles is the perfect gift; full of boyish adventure, feel-good nostalgia and the perfect respite from all those grown-up, fatherly responsibilities.
Here, in our beautiful Darwin Rare Books Room, we have several lovely copies of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe which seems to be many a man’s escapist dream; survive at sea, be washed up on a desert island, then use all your survival techniques to pit your wits against wild animals, wild weather and wild men. First published in 1719, we have several vintage copies, from the early 1900’s, ranging from £5 to £20.
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.
We have a 1933 edition of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, which I remember my brother reading avidly, as a boy. It has bold black and white illustrations, possibly lino-cuts, by Clifford Webb. Again, it covers every old-fashioned boy’s (and man’s) dream as it involves a long summer outdoors, sailing, camping and fishing, with a bit of piracy thrown in. This edition is currently available for £38.
- Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.
There have been many versions of the Robin Hood English folklore story. It encapsulates all the idealism, outdoor living and heroism that many boys, men, and indeed some women, aspire to. We have a lovely little half leather bound, Tilt and Brogue 1841 first edition of Robin Hood and his Merry Foresters, by Stephen Percy, complete with half a dozen wonderful, coloured illustrations for £297.50. We have an 1884 Robin Hood. A Collection of Poems, Songs and Ballads for £85, and we also have a pretty illustrated version for £12.20.
- Robin Hood by Henry Gilbert
These legendary tales of detection in the times of Victorian criminals, have excited many a budding sleuth and are the perfect choice for a lover of vintage crime fiction. We have a smart Folio Society edition of his fifty six short stories collected in five books, complete with slipcase, for £60.
- Sherlock Holmes Complete Short Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.
The carefree life of Huck, the child vagabond, has probably been envied and idealised by many boys, just as he is admired by the other children in the story. Not going to school, swearing when you want, and a carefree life free from society’s petty rules.Total independence to do as you please, is still the dearest wish of my eldest son, and is what we probably all wish for at times, even as adults; maybe especially now we are adults! We have an 1886 Chatto and Windus edition complete with the bookplate of Sidney Herbert, later 14th Earl of Pembroke, for £127.50. We also have one or two other editions in stock.
- The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
So if your father is hankering after a simple life, free from all these twenty-first century concerns, encourage him to temporarily escape into idealism and high adventure by giving him one of these vintage stories to read, and let him know how much you appreciate him and all his efforts.
Even the most responsible man is also a boy at heart. So let’s hear it for the boys!
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