“What a piece of work is a hat!” – Hat thoughts anyone?

“What a piece of work is a hat! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world!”.

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet (sort of)

As you might guess from the title, I’m rather keen on hats. I once went to a hat evening at Waterstones Deansgate (Manchester, UK). In those days budgets for book events were much higher than today, and Oddbins (a wine merchant) needed several trips with a porters trolley to bring the necessary supplies. Labels were covered up. Hat wearers got the high quality wine, non hat wearers got the cheap plonk chilled to within an inch of it’s life (to hide it’s dodgy nature). Blue Nun, any of you bareheaded folk?

Hats from the Chicago Mail Order Co, 1930's.

This print is from the Chicago Mail Order Co. (1930’s).


“Personally I would never want to be a member of any group where you either have to wear a hat, or you can’t wear a hat.””
― George Carlin

“Mr. Galliano wore his big top-hat very much on one side of his head, so much so that Jimmy really wondered why it didn’t fall off .. Jimmy thought that circus ways were very extraordinary. Even hats seemed to share in the excitement!”
― Enid Blyton

“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”
― Neil Gaiman

And now a favourite since childhood:

“On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody every could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee ..”
― Edward Lear, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat

Any hat thoughts or words?


First page of The Lord of the Rings – original manuscript

Original first page for Lord of the Rings (1937), J.R.R. Tolkien.

The original handwritten first page of The Lord of the Rings (1937) by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), Professor of Old and Middle English language and literature at The University of Oxford. Tolkien’s personal and academic papers are archived at the Bodleian Library.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door” – The Lord of the Rings

A long job handwriting 1178 pages, let alone dreaming up the wonderful world of Middle-Earth, phew.

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”
The Lord of the Rings

Boy Reading an Adventure Story (1923) by Norman Rockwell

Boy Reading an Adventure Story (1923) by Norman Rockwell

Boy Reading an Adventure Story (1923) by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). Rockwell was a popular American author, painter and illustrator.

I wonder what the book is that the boy is so absorded by? It seems to be illustrated. Having been in the book trade, if I had to guessimate, I’d say it was something by writer and illustrator, Howard Pyle – “The Story of King Arthur and His Knights” (or one of it’s 3 sequels), 1903-1910.

The dog is dreaming of lunch.

“Why, you are a funny apple!” from The Bruin Boy’s Annual (1928)

"Why, you are a funny apple!" from The Bruin Boy's Annual (1928)

Why, you are a funny apple!” from The Bruin Boy’s Annual (1928). I love the expression on the face of the puzzled cow gazing lazily at the red haired boy in a red jacket, hooked on the apple tree. Illustration by Frank Jenner.

The Bruin Boys were created in 1904 by artist Julius Stafford Baker for the comics section of the The Daily Mirror newspaper (UK). The lead characters were young, mischievous animals attending Mrs. Bruin’s Boarding School.

An illustration by John R. Neill (1877-1943) for Treasure Island

An illustration by John R. Neill (1877-1943) from Treasure Island

A wonderful illustration by John R. Neill (1877-1943) for Treasure Island. Neill was a magazine and children’s book illustrator, mostly known for his ‘Land of Oz’ series (remember The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?).

Treasure Island is a classic adventure novel by Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson. It was first published in 1881, but set in the mid 1700s (a few decades before the setting of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels). It’s one of those books that used to be described as a ‘thumping good yarn’ – now publishers would probably call it ‘an engaging page-turner’.

Adventure on the high seas and a quest for pirate treasure, with colourful characters in an exotic setting. What more could you ask for?