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Pair – Still Life & A Classical Education
SFE No. 55: Richard Cobb, Still Life
SFE 55: Richard Cobb, Still Life
Slightly Foxed Edition No. 64 Richard Cobb, A Classical Education - Autumn 2023
  • Dimensions: 110 x 170mm
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Binding: Cloth hardback
  • Trimmings: Coloured endpapers; silk ribbon, head- & tailband; gold blocking to spine; blind blocking to front
  • NB: Hand-numbered limited editions of 2,000

Pair – Still Life & A Classical Education

Richard Cobb

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Private People & Private Places

Richard Cobb, Still Life

The historian Richard Cobb, famous for his brilliant books on France and the French Revolution, his inspirational teaching and his unconventional behaviour, grew up in the 1920s and ’30s in the quiet and deeply conventional town of Tunbridge Wells. Yet Cobb loved that small world – it was, he writes, ‘a society in which a rather frightened child could feel secure’. In this unusual memoir, he leads us through the town and into the lives of the characters among whom he grew up, from the mysterious Black Widow, seen always in deep yet unexplained mourning, to Baroness Olga, the town’s only victim of the Russian Revolution. At home his mother entertains her tweed-and-Jaeger-clad Bridge-playing friends while down the road in their large, dank Victorian mansion his extraordinary cousins the Limbury-Buses live their lives according to an unchanging regime which is timed to the minute. ‘Strange and wonderful,’ wrote Hilary Spurling in the Observer when the book was first published. And indeed it is.

Richard Cobb, A Classical Education

Everything about the historian Richard Cobb was unexpected and original, especially his writing. A Classical Education is no exception, a memoir that’s more like a psychological thriller, told in Cobb’s exquisite and inimitable style. Cobb and his friend Edward (surname withheld) were given the ‘classical education’ of the title at their public school, Shrewsbury, where they became friendly enough to visit one another’s homes in the holidays. But whereas Cobb came from an exemplarily safe and conventional middle-class family, Edward’s was entirely the reverse. Enough to say that his nicknames for his parents were Moloch and Medea. The result was a shocking event, on which Cobb looks back with wonder and dismay when he meets Edward again fourteen years later. A Classical Education is a book you won’t be able to put down.

Never a Belonger

Richard Cobb in England seems, if not quite an oxymoron, at least a bizarre fortuity, an accident of birth, like El Greco in Crete or Livingstone in Lanarkshire. For was he not one of the most...

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An Unusual Case

Richard Cobb’s memoir A Classical Education (1985) opens on a spring day in 1950. He is at St Lazare station in Paris awaiting the arrival of an old schoolfriend he’s not seen for fourteen years....

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