With apologies to the late James W. Best for appropriating his image (from his 1935 Forest Life in India)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

'Calm was the Day...'

‘In the early days of 1939 there arose in me a great desire to find peace beside a river.’ So wrote Irish author and artist Robert Gibbings (1889–1958). And the river in question?


First published in 1940, it is illustrated throughout with his own sublime engravings. The great thing about Gibbings is that many second-hand copies of his books are now on the market (sadly reflecting the recent demise of their original owners, no doubt). The titles alone are so evocative: Coming Down the Wye (1942), Lovely is the Lee (1944), Sweet Cork of Thee (1951), Coming Down the Seine (1953). Gibbings also had a love affair with the South Seas, resulting in such titles as A True Tale of Love in Tonga (1935), Coconut Island (1936), Blue Angels and Whales (1938), and Over the Reefs (1948). But it’s the Thames I most associate him with, and in 1945 Pathé captured his intimate relationship with the river on film for all time, free to view at
He completed his own homage to the Thames (and Spenser) in 1957…