Richard Kennedy, A Boy at the Hogarth Press & A Parcel of Time
In 1926, at the age of 16, Richard Kennedy left school without a single qualification and went to work at the Hogarth Press. The Woolfs clearly developed a fondness for their apprentice, but when he left several years later, Leonard pronounced him ‘the most frightful idiot he [had] ever had the privilege of meeting in a long career of suffering fools’. But Kennedy, who became a successful artist and children’s book illustrator, was taking everything in, and 50 years later he produced a minor classic in A Boy at the Hogarth Press, accompanied by his own wonderfully alive illustrations. Later still, he published his touching childhood memoir, A Parcel of Time. Now published together in a single edition, the two are a sheer delight.
Eric Newby, Something Wholesale
Who would have thought that the adventurous traveller and decorated wartime hero Eric Newby had started his working life in the rag trade? But that is the story he tells in this characteristically jaunty and very funny book. Lane & Newby, ‘Mantle Manufacturers and Wholesale Costumiers’, occupied a warren of offices in Great Marlborough Street and here young Eric was put to work in the Mantle Department, and forced to accompany Mr Wilkins, the head salesman, on one of his twice yearly excursions to drum up orders in the great industrial towns of the North. As Eric blundered his way through the various departments, things were beginning to go wrong. Eric’s father, an Edwardian patriarch with a light-hearted attitude to accounting, had been running up debts, and during the Fifties Lane & Newby finally collapsed. By this time, however, Eric was laying plans for an excursion to the Hindu Kush – and the rest is travel history.