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Among early, widely praised titles from Tabb House are biographies including THE SLENDER TREE: a Life of Alice Meynell by June Badeni; also A RADICAL ARISTOCRAT: Sir William Molesworth of Pencarrow by Alison Adburgham (republished in paperback in 2007); and MUSIC IN THE AIR, the memoirs of a classical musician, Clifton Helliwell.
Fiction ranges from the satirical short story MR GEORGE JONES, PRESIDENT by John Retallack: ‘knocks Private Eye into a cocked hat’, said Peregrine Worsthorne, through light reading to John Adlard’s THE TIMID BENDING VENUS: ‘contains more wit than many novels twice as long’, The Times; and A SEASON OF LAMPLIGHT, by Trefor Vaughan, as poignant and as full of suspense as The Go-Between: ‘the best of a batch of new novels’, said the Guardian.
Poetry includes Jack Clemo’s acclaimed THE DIFFERENT DRUMMER: ‘the language blazes with force and colour’, said Peter Porter in the Observer; and UNDER HELICON: Journeys in the Mediterranean by Penelope Tremayne: ‘not just unique and haunting but a triumph of book production’, Peter Levi of the Spectator, ‘a remarkable gift for summoning up light, landscape and mood’, Patrick Leight Fermor, TLS.
Childhood and country memoirs include LOBSTER AT LITTLEHAMPTON by Clare Sheppard, amusingly illustrated by her daughter Christine Sheppard: ‘indeed, I laughed aloud’, Frances Partridge of the Spectator; CAUGHT FROM TIME: A Country Diary of the 1920s by Anne Garnett: ‘charming’, The Field; and A BOY IN HOBNAILED BOOTS, the memoirs of Edward Prynn, the quarryman son of a Cornish farm labourer: ‘the great fascination of this racy story’, the Western Morning News.
Cornish titles are represented in almost all Tabb House categories; notable are John Bartlett’s SHIPS OF NORTH CORNWALL: ‘a book of great quality’, Classic Boat and C.R. John’s THE SAINTS OF CORNWALL: 1500 Years of Christian Landscape.
Many titles have won national and local acclaim: THE SLENDER TREE by June Badeni and AND THEN THERE WAS ONE by Joyce Denys were recommended for the Whitbread Biography Literary Award, and Celia Lucas won the Tir na N-og Welsh prize for a children’s book in the English language. VIRGINIA WOOLF AND VANESSA BELL REMEMBERING ST IVES by Marion Dell and Marion Whybrow won the Holyer an Gof award and I WOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN by Patrick Hutton and ONE AND ALL by Hugo White were commended in theirs.
‘Tabb House has rendered valuable service to Cornish literature’, said A.L. Rowse, and another writer, Bret Guthrie, who consequently asked Tabb House to publish his book CORNWALL IN THE AGE OF STEAM wrote: ‘In a shop specializing in Cornish titles, to my pleasure I found more than fifty Tabb House titles; I was confirmed in my admiration of their quality.’
Tabb House books are well written and well produced. ‘Elegant editions’ wrote Publishing News of the Encore Series of classics, and ‘beautifully written’ says Professor Charles Thomas.
Tabb House books are made to last. All hardbacks and most paperbacks are threadsewn for long life and most are printed on good bookwove quality paper or coated cartridge paper for illustrated books. Publication dates in the data at the head of the page are of the current edition or the latest reprint.
TABB HOUSE was founded in January 1980. In the previous few years its director Caroline White had met several authors with interesting lives or good stories to tell, but no publisher. One was an old literary acquaintance Father Brocard Sewell, writer and former editor of the literary magazine The Aylesford Review. He asked us to publish a book on Henry Williamson. Another was Daphne Jackson, a redoubtable lady interned in the Second World War by the Japanese in Java, and another the author of a number of humorous short stories set in Cornwall. These provided the impetus for the start of Tabb House. A small list was envisaged that would contain books on aspects of literature – criticism, fiction, poetry and biography – with ‘living history’ in the form of memoirs, and some ‘grass-roots’ writing by local authors. In time these categories expanded to include other genres such as children’s fiction, more types of history and factual books, while the location of Tabb House at Padstow in Cornwall resulted in greater emphasis on Cornish subjects.
Tabbhouse titles continue to provide interesting, entertaining and good reading.