Friday 8 November 2013

Compass Points 62

We start today with some very exciting news – as featured in today’s Bookseller. Biteback have just signed a sensational book on the Profumo affair written by Geoffrey Robertson QC. The book, Stephen Ward was Innocent, OK: The Case for Overturning his Conviction is an exploration of the trial of the 1960s society figure at the centre of the case. Ward, who introduced MP John Profumo to showgirl Christine Keeler, was prosecuted for living from the profits of prostitution, and killed himself on the last day of the trial. Robertson critiques the trial, and says: "The conviction of Stephen Ward stands as the worst unrequited miscarriage of justice in modern British history, and it is now time it was overturned." Publication will tie in with the opening of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's latest musical, Stephen Ward, and an ITV documentary on the same subject which will be screened in December. The story is also explored in new play Keeler, which opens this week at London's Charing Cross Theatre. This mega book will be published in December and there is no doubt that it will attract a great deal of attention. The author, who is a world renowned QC, has convincing evidence that Stephen Ward was innocent and his suicide before sentence was the result of establishment forces ranged against him. This scandal brought down a government and the revelations in the book will be of huge interest to the press and public. Robinson will attempt to get the conviction quashed, and the book is a key part of that process. There will be a televised press conference featuring Mandy Rice Davis to announce the application, and Andrew Lloyd Webber will also be part of the publicity thrust. Have a look at the AI to get all the details on the case – this is going to be absolutely explosive stuff!

And you can take yourselves back to that extraordinary time in the 1960’s with this compilation of film clips and photos

I think we can say that following Halloween and Bonfire Night we are all definitely on the countdown to Christmas – let’s hope your tills are starting to jingle and jangle already! Certainly the papers have already started to feature their annual lists of Christmas gift ideas –and Health and Fitness Magazine recommends The Joy of Cycling by Ray Hamilton and The Joy of Running by Paul Owen as ideal presents for the fitness enthusiast in your life. I’m not entirely certain that these are precisely what I’d want to find in my stocking personally – The Joy of a Chocolate Orange would be more my type of thing – but these pocket-sized miscellanies are packed with fascinating facts, handy hints and captivating stories and quotes and are perfect for anyone who knows the incomparable joy of bikes or new trainers! 
They both contain bite-sized, visually appealing information from all areas of the sport, for newbies and veterans alike; and are nicely produced £9.99 hardbacks with black and white illustrations from Summersdale.

And here’s a little film showing how NOT to take up running!

If you haven’t got a book on the go at the moment, then I can highly recommend this next title from Gallic which is published next February – and we have 15 proofs to give away to the first booksellers to email us with their details! The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern is a multi-prize-winning debut novel which has had sales of 10,000 in France and won fifteen literary awards. This dark yet touching drama deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love – centring around a photograph taken in 1971 which sets two people on the path to uncovering the truth about their parents and themselves. Parisian archivist Hélène takes out a newspaper advert seeking information about her mother, who died when she was three, and the two men pictured with her in a photograph taken at a tennis tournament at Interlaken in 1971.Stéphane, a Swiss biologist living in Kent, responds: his father is one of the people in the photo. More letters and more photos pass between them as they embark on a journey to uncover the truth their parents kept from them. But will the images and documents from the past fill the silences left by the players? Email your name and address to with People in the Photo in the subject line, and we’ll send you out a bound proof today!

I’ve mentioned this title before when it was published in August; but the British Television Location Guide from Splendid Books is abut to get a huge boost as the million copy selling Mirror is featuring a big spread on it this weekend. This fascinating book reveals the real-life filming locations for loads of top television series including Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, Call The Midwife, The White Queen, Sherlock, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Endeavour, Doctor Who, Lewis and many more. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of top stars including Martin Clunes, Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant the book is the essential companion for viewers and tourists alike - and a comprehensive record of where TV programmes are filmed and how you can visit the locations. Compiled by Steve Clark and television expert Shoba Vazirani, it reveals the secret settings for dozens of top television shows. From Broadchurch to Mr Selfridge and from Game of Thrones to The Fall; The British Television Location Guide gives details of how you can visit the filming locations that you have seen so many times on the television.

Well, never mind telling us where all these fab series were filmed – what about telling us what is going to happen in them – that would be a bit more use! I personally would like to see the publication of the British Television Spoilers Guide, so that we can find the plot lines of  Broadchurch, Downton, Doctor Who, Sherlock etc way before our friends do, and then spend endless hours down the pub ruining everyone else’s fun.  This trailer gives us some information (is that Benedict Cumberbatch alive and well I see?) – but not enough quite frankly!

Exciting news for one of our Carcanet poets; Rebecca Goss has won the East Anglian Book Awards (poetry category) for Her Birth. The death of a baby daughter inspires a candid, piercing study of grief and as Helen Dunmore commented: “The poems in Her Birth unfold their story of love, loss and grief for a baby daughter with pared-down precision and scorching intensity.” In 2007 Goss’s daughter died, at sixteen months, of a rare and incurable heart condition. This is her book-length elegy. The book begins with Ella’s birth, short life and her death, and ends with the joyous and confounding birth of another child.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Do you know what a shy cock is? Or where your Twiddle diddles are? I’ll give you a clue – one’s rude – one isn’t – and it’s probably not the one you’d think! Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence by Francis Grose from Hesperus was featured in the main section of the Sun newspaper this week. Originally printed as a guide to street slang for men of quality, The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue is a gem! The avowed purpose of the dictionary was to give men ‘of fashion’ an insight into the inappropriate language of the street. Read in modern times it is by turn uproariously funny and deeply confusing and yet certain truths have remained. There’s no doubt that many of the words should be brought back into common parlance forthwith: we certainly need a term for “One who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite to him.”  We have perhaps less use for a word such as “dobin rig” which is means “Stealing ribbons from haberdashers early in the morning or late at night.” Learn how the Georgians and early Victorians would insult each other and find out how some of today's words and derivations have come about in this quirky little volume. Anyone who, like me,  is a fan of Paul O’ Grady will realise that this little hardback compendium is likely to be right up his street – and indeed we have just heard that  The Paul O’Grady Show (Channel 4) have expressed an  interest in featuring the book during the new series which starts Monday 11th November. Make sure you have it on prominent display – as the Telegraph said “This book was a runaway success when published in 1811 by soldier Francis Grose, but now The Dictionary Of The Vulgar Tongue is getting tongues wagging again”

22nd November 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great English composer Benjamin Britten. To commemorate this momentous centenary, Carcanet are delighted to announce the publication of an anthology of the poems which Britten set to music, Benjamin Britten’s Poets edited by Boris Ford. Nicholas Lezard writing in the Guardian called this “An excellent idea, brilliantly and meticulously edited... this is a superb, eclectic anthology, a commonplace book dedicated to Britten’s soul.” Benjamin Britten was a great reader of poetry, and poetry profoundly affected his musical genius and style of composition. Friendships and collaborations with writers – Auden and Forster among them – left their mark. No other composer of songs, not even Schubert or Schumann, set poems of such range and quality. All the 360 poems Britten set are included in this book. They range from Donne's complex 'Holy Sonnets' to the deceptive simplicity of Blake's 'Oh rose thou art sick'. They include anonymous ballads, modern work and poems in other languages with translations.

Funeral Blues by WH Auden is a well known poem; partly due to the incredibly moving performance of it by John Hannah in Four Weddings and a Funeral; but its setting to music by Britten is much less well known – and in my opinion is equally powerful. Watch it here performed by the soprano Alexia Mankovskaya

Some 2014 guide book titles to let you know about. Firstly, Signpost 2014: The 75th Edition Guide is the definitive UK hotel directory listing 150 of the finest hotels in Great Britain. The guide includes luxury country house hotels set in beautiful grounds, small hotels with log fires and cosy bedrooms deep in the heart of quiet country villages, or smart townhouse hotels with 21st century facilities. They all have that something special – style, comfort, warmth of welcome, fabulous food, with plenty to see and do in the area and have been stayed at or inspected by our team. Every hotel featured in this guide has that something special - no run-of-the mill hotels are included! This guide is packed with colour images, detailed descriptions, and special indexes by hotel facility together with colour route planning maps. 
And secondly, three paperbacks from Visit Britain Publishing – which are the official tourist board guides to star-rated B&Bs, hotels and other guest accommodation in England. B&Bs and Hotels, Self Catering and Camping Touring and Holiday Parks are all easy to search by region, county or town and contain pictures of every single type of accommodation.  They will tell you where to go, what to do and how to get there – everything you need for in fact a great British Holiday. All of these titles are published in January 2014.

And we can’t mention the finest hotels in Britain without featuring a clip from what is probably the worst hotel in Britain – although I must admit, I think I would very much enjoy a visit! Here’s an 8 minute clip on YouTube showing you some of Basil’s best bits!

To finish with I have some very very exciting news indeed! Next spring, Max Ström Publishing is bringing out ABBA: The Official Photo Book. This amazing £35 hardback has a foreword by all four members of ABBA - Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Frida – who said “I am thrilled with all of these pictures, some of which I am seeing now for the very first time. The book provides a real trip down Memory Lane.” This book is going to be totally mega – I won’t say any more just now, but you can watch the promo video for the book here which gives you some idea of the wealth of extraordinary material that this title will contain!

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.


  1. OMG that ABBA book is going to be huge - I am such a fan!

  2. If I may be so bold, the Stephen Ward case will be the worst unrequited miscarriage of justice once the bill to pardon Alan Turing is made law.