Simon Winchester is a storyteller of rare caliber. The common thread for his diverse biographical sketches is eccentricity, and in his newest book, The Man Who Loved China (Harper Perennial, $15.99), Joseph Needham, Cambridge scientist, leftist, freethinker, accordionist, folk dancer, and nudist, certainly qualifies. A young married Cambridge Fellow, Needham fell in love with a Chinese university student and then in turn became infatuated with and studied the Chinese language, Chinese history, and all the mysteries of the Middle Kingdom.  In 1943, with China in the midst of the Japanese occupation, he made his first of many trips to the country, visits which eventually produced a 24-volume encyclopedia of Chinese civilization. More than 50 years after the passionate love affair began, and two years after his loyal wife died, Needham married the Chinese student. When she died two years later, he asked three other women to marry him.  They all declined.

The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780060884611
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Published: Harper Perennial - April 28th, 2009

A man of Enlightenment rigor and Romantic sensibility, Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) drew animals from life, accurate in every detail of every feather. Yet he also captured the attitude and idiosyncrasies of his subjects. Truly Nature’s Engraver (Univ. of Chicago, $18), he had as sharp an eye for village life, and his witty vignettes of fishermen, travelers, laundresses, and children show his expertise as an engraver of human nature. Illustrated with scores of prints from Bewick’s History of Quadrupeds, History of British Birds, and his edition of Aesop’s Fables, Jenny Uglow’s masterful and beautiful life of the printer portrays his times as well. Uglow is a knowledgeable and engaging guide to the unsettled politics of the era, the apprentice system, the business end of Bewick’s engraving workshop, the tools and techniques of woodblock printing, and the way Bewick revived a fading craft so thoroughly he turned it into an art.

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780374112363
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 12th, 2007

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780226823911
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - May 15th, 2009

Germaine Greer has taken on the “bardolaters” in Shakespeare’s Wife (Harper Perennial, $14.99), her exquisitely researched book about Ann Hathaway, Shakespeare’s oft misrepresented spouse. Greer counters the frequent assumptions that Shakespeare hated his wife; that she, an older woman, used pregnancy to manipulate him into marriage; and that she was a plain, boring woman with no skills or interests of her own. Greer’s meticulous research fails to prove anything definitive about Hathaway and Shakespeare’s relationship except that the work of Shakespearean academicians has left “a wife-sized hole” in his biography, one often filled with baseless conjectures and misogynistic presumptions. In examining Hathaway’s life, Greer elaborates on wider Elizabethan customs and social mores and allows us to fill in the gaps regarding the couple’s relationship. Shakespearean scholars aren’t the only ones who will love this book; anyone looking for a thorough account of women’s lives in Elizabethan England will find it engrossing.

Shakespeare's Wife Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780061537165
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Published: Harper Perennial - March 17th, 2009