The Grey Owl Books by Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin

Pilgrims of the Wild is one of the The Grey Owl Books by Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin.  In it a “a ‘Red Indian’ tries to convey to the white man, before it is too late, some of the spirit of his vanishing race”

The Grey Owl Books by Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin


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Pilgrims of the Wild is the attempt of a Red Indian to convey to the White Man, before it is too late, something of the spirit of Grey Owl (Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin), trapper, guide, sniper in the Canadian Army, later officially appointed Protector of Wild Life, and world famous; and of Anahareo, daughter of a line of Iroquois chiefs.

Their journey was long and weary, beset by hardships and dangers, and undertaken without hope of gain, in obedience to a spiritual vision, the vision that somehow, somewhere, they might find a sanctuary for the last survivors of the Little People, the little friends of the Red Indian, the beaver.

Grey Owl has been compared with Gilbert White of Selborne, and the comparison between a half-breed trapper of the Canadian backwoods, and the cultured, comfortable eighteenth-century country parson, may seem far-fetched. It is not so. Common to both are an intense love of all living things, extraordinary powers of observation in simple, vivid words. The influence of Gilbert White, Patron Saint of English naturalists, has been far reaching: so already, though his work is not yet done, is that of Grey Owl. This book has added thousands to his army of friends and admirers.

Other Grey Owl Books include

A Book Of Grey Owl (Pages from the writings of Wa-Sha-Quon_Asin) (Amazon UK, Amazon USA)

This book contains a selection  from all of Grey Owl’s published writings under five headings: Sajo and Shapian, The Beaver People, On the Trail, Creatures of the Wild, and North American Indians. It is a delightful volume, beautifully produced and fully illustrated with photographs old and new as well as Grey Owl’s own sketches, representing all aspects of his many sided genius.

The Green Leaf: A Tribute to Grey Owl edited by Lovat Dickson (Amazon UK, Amazon USA)

The contents of this delightful little book – a fitting memorial to a noble life cut off in its prime – include an account of Grey Owl’s last days; his death and burial; spontaneous tributes from the Press; a selection of very revealing letters to his publisher, now printed for the first time; some unpublished Precepts and passages from the books embodying  varying aspects of his philosophy; his farewell (undelivered) broadcast to the children of Britain; and a pictorial record of his last days, including some remarkable photographs printed in photogravure.

Tales Of An Empty Cabin (Amazon UK, Amazon USA)

The cabin will be recognisable to those who have read Pilgrims of the Wild as the House of McGinnis. The ghostly firelight in the empty cabin brings back to his mind now, as it did in that winter, “some half-forgotten story or incident, or thought, and by them there nearly always hung a tale.”

“It is a unique book, profound and fascinating…..I have been able only to hint at the wealth the book contains…..a book, incontestably, to possess and to brood over, again and again.” Hugh De Selincourt in the Sunday Times

The Adventures of Sajo And Her Beaver People (Amazon UK, Amazon USA)

“I have no hesitation whatever in calling The Adventures of Sajo and her Beaver People the best tale of its kind since Black Beauty…..I cannot imagine the child, or for that matter the grown up, who will not love reading about Sajo and her beavers as much as I have loved reading about them.” Compton Mackenzie in the Daily Mail

The Tree (Amazon UK, Amazon USA)

Grey Owl’s classic story of six hundred years in the life of a tree, illustrated with his own drawings and with cover design and end papers by Webster Murray


The Biography of George Eliot’s Husband George Henry Lewes



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More than a century after her death George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Ann Evans) vies with Charles Dickens as the most widely read of Victorian novelists. But lurking in the shadows of her reputation is a man, George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived (but never marries) for more than twenty-five years. Now in this first biography of Lewes for more than half a century David Willams suggests that without him George Eliot might never have started writing fiction. It is to George Henry Lewes, therefore that we owe Middlemarch, Silas Marner, The Mill On The Floss, Adam Bede and others.

Who was this literary Svengali? A remarkable man certainly. His biography of Goethe remains the best in English of the great German literary all rounder. He was the first editor of the Fortnightly Review, He was, says Williams, the founding father of all newspaper columnists. He wrote dramatic criticism of such quality that Bernard Shaw remarked that he was the only man worth bothering with between him and Hazlitt. He wrote plays. He wrote novels He wrote lucidly and fluently on philosophy and science. His Biographical History of Philosophy was still being used by students fifty years after his death.

But, for all his worth as a critic and writer, G H Lewes will for ever be linked in people’s minds for his twenty five year relationship with Mary Ann Evans. When they chose to live together she was thirty five, a clever journalist in her own right, unmarried and plain. He was two years older, small and ugly and married with four children, but being cuckholded by an unfaithful wife. He was amusing, he could sparkle. He never lacked self confidence. Although there was a strong physical attraction between the two, the closeness of their relationship, their tender understanding of each other indicates a cerebral attachment that was to last.

To a certain extent their decision to live together openly brought private and later public disapproval. But they survived the rebukes , because George Eliot, the novelist, grew in critical esteem and public success that transcended the gossip. David Williams, however, offers copious evidence of how necessary an encourager, a prop, a reviser, an editor and an inspiration Lewes was to her. He was ((he concludes) a generous man, with wide ranging talents of his own. He was very much an actor too, a stage Fairy Prince, if you like, with a Cinderella he could work wonders with. It’s hard to think of anyone else in English literary history who can lay claim to his special sort of mixed and strange achievement.

David Williams reviews widely in the national press and has contributed much to BBC programmes. Among his earlier book are a biography/literary study of Clough whom he puts among the greatest and most neglected of Victorian poets; a biography of George Meredith who after the death of George Eliot succeeded to the tite of England’s greatest living novelist; a study called Genesis and Exodus of the talented but tragic Benson family though two generations spanning a century between 1840 and 1940; and a study of the eccentric vagabond genius George Borrow in a book published under the title A World of his Own.

(This text is from the dust jacket – I’m not so sure that we owe Middlemarch etc to George Eliot’s husband)


Leila Seth. A Woman Lawyer In India. Her Autobiography.

On Balance Leila Seth

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The first woman Chief Justice in India, the first woman Judge of the Delhi High Court, the first women to top the Bar examinations in London, seventy three year old Leila Seth has led a full life. In this autobiography Leila talks about its joyous as well as its difficult moments. Figuring prominently are her early years of homelessness and struggle, her straying into law while in England with her husband Premo, and later practising in Patna, Calcutta and Delhi; and her happy marriage of over fifty years, including the experience of bringing up three remarkable children; writer Vikram, peace activist Shantum and film maker Aradhana.

With candour and wit, she tells of her taking up law studies because this could be conveniently combined with caring for her son and husband; and of the difficulty she faced as a women barrister in Calcutta in trying to find a senior to ‘devil’ with; of her lighter moments as the sole women judge on the otherwise all male bench of the Delhi High Court. Also dwelt upon are her views regarding corruption, discrimination and delay in the legal system; some judgement dealing with education and with inter personal and constitutional law; and her experience as a member of the 15th Law Commission.

Intertwining family life with professional, Leila movingly describes the years after her father’s premature death when as children they were obliged to live with friends. There are also delightful vignettes: Premo and her turning an old mansion into a splendid home in Patna, Vikram’s writing of the novel A Suitable Boy, Shantum’s ordination as a Buddhist teacher by Tich Nhat Hanh and Aradhnana’s marriage to Peter, and Austrian diplomat and work as an art director on films like Earth and Water.

Intimate, intricate, charming and often amusing, On Balance presents a rich and heart-warming portrait of an exceptional woman, her family and her times.

Leila Seth retired as Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh in 1992, was appointed in 1995 as the one member commission to examine the death in custody of Rajan Pillai, and from 1997 to 2000 was a member of the 15th Law Commission of India. She does arbitration work and is involved in human rights activities. She lives in Noida with her husband Premo, son Shantum, daughter-in -law Gitanjali and granddaughter Nandinin.


John Huston. His Autobiography.

John Huston

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John Huston was an undisputed giant of the cinema, whose colourful career as screenwriter, actor and director mirrored a personality larger than life itself. From a stunning directorial debut with The Maltese Falcon to the twin successes at the end of his life of Prizzi’s Honor and The Dead (both starring his daughter Anjelica), he dominated the movies for more than a half a century with his story telling genius.
Huston’s own life was as unpredictable and varied as his work. A hard drinker, gambler and hunter who made his home in America, Ireland and Mexico, he had numerous affairs and was married five times, to a “schoolgirl; a gentlewoman; a motion-picture actress; a ballerina; and a crocodile”. Outspoken and uproarious, his autobiography is a rich a story as he ever filmed, and as honestly and compellingly told”.

Who Is Anna Akhmatova?

Anna of All The Russia

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Anna Akhmatova is recognised as one of the greatest poets of Russian Literature, an iconic figure who gave voive to the suffering of the Russian people during the brutal years of Stalin’s Terror. (Description from the back cover of Anna of All The Russias)

“Lydia Korneevna Chukovskaya  was born in St Petersburg in 1907. Her father, Korney Chukovsky, was a respected literay figure and one of Russia’s  best-loved writers for children. She worked in the Leningrad office of Detizadt (the State Publishing House for Children’s Literature) under Samuil Marshak, until almost its entire editorial staff was purged in 1937, an experience she touches on in her book In the Editor’s Laboratory (Moscow 1963). She was expelled from the Writers’s Union in 1974 for writing an article in support of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov (published in the collection The Process of Expulsion Paris 1979).

n addition to the  Akhmatova Journals her many other books include two novellas Sofia Petrovna and Going Under, a book of childhood memoirs and two volumes of poetry. In 1976 she was awarded the first PEN Club Freedom on the original publication of the Journals in Russian in Paris, and in 1990 she was awarded the first Sakharvov Prize for the courage displayed in her life’s work. (Description from the cover of The Akhmatova Journals – about which you can read more here)

The Akhmatova Journals. 1938-1941. Lydia Chukovskaya.

Akhmatova Journals

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“Lydia Chukovskaya and Anna Akhmatova were brought together by the tragedy of Stalin’s purges. Akhamatov’s son, Lev Gumilyov, had been arrested in 1935 but was released after Akhmatova wrote personally to Stalin (though he would be arrested again in 1938); Chukovskaya’a husband, the physicist Matvey Bronshteyn had been arrested in 1937. These were the circumstances in which the young Lydia Chukovskaya first sought Akhmatova’s advice on how to secure her husband’s release, and found herself becoming the poet’s confident and amanuensis, memorizing poems that the poet did not dare to commit to paper.

In common with many thousands of Russian women, they shared the routine of the prison queue; keeping faith with their husbands and sons in almost total silence, standing in line for whole days to glean scraps of news and to hand over meagre parcels of food and clothing. But they also shared a love of literature and thus sustained them. These were the years in which Akhmatova wrote Requiem, her poem of terror and Chukovskaya her novella Sofia Petrovna.

The Akhmatova Journals 1938-41 (the first of three volumes), translated from the Moscow edition of 1989, especially revised for this edition, are the record of an extraordinary friendship and present an intimate portrait of a supremely gifted poet and a remarkable spirit – imperious, poor, recklessly generous, harassed by self-serving, often vicious critics, yet of a triumphant natural dignity, courage and warmth.. They convey Akhmatova views on Russian writers of the past (Pushkin whom she held in the highest esteem, Tolstoy whom she abhorred for his treatment of Anna Karenina), on her contemporaries and on Western writers too, including Hemingway, Joyce, Mauriac and Proust. In addition the Journals offer a wider portrait of the Russian intelligentsia as seen through the  sharp, humane, occasionally humorous eyes of the young Lydia Chukovskaya”. (Text from the dust jacket description).

Sean O’Casey

Sean O'Casey Biography

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The concluding volume of Sean O’Casey’s remarkable autographical series is written, as it were, under the mute compassion of the evening star. The book opens on his return from the United States, and brings us up until 1954.
Scene after scene springs to life as he writes: the London refugee children flooding the Devon Lanes and fields, spending most of their time trying to tear their loneliness to pieces; American soldiers on O’Casey’s Devon home; a cold night in a cold room in Cambridge and the thoughts it stimulates. There is a long passage on Bernard Shaw.
Life, as seen through O’Casey’s eyes and perhaps more markedly in this last volume, wear all its masks, gay, sad, ridiculous and terrible; but life, we are reminded is young and has plenty of time to make good. The note that is left with the reader is one of courage and wonder. No writer of our time has produced so searching an examination of himself and combined it with so vivid and memorable a picture of this strange, difficult and remarkable world in which we are living.

Sean O'Casey Family