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First edition, first print hardback of THE BREADHORSE, by Alan Garner and illustrated by Albin Trowski. Published by William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, in 1975. Signed by Garner on the front endpaper. A scarce title with rare author signature.
The book is in very good condition (clean pictorial boards in matching dust jacket and black lettering on spine and on front, very slight rubbing to spine edges) with slight wear to the dust jacket, which is not price clipped (light creasing to the edges and about a one inch closed tear to the rear top spine corner). Internally, the pages are clean and tight and there are no tears and no other inscriptions.
Alan Garner OBE is an English novelist who is best known for his children's fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. His work is firmly rooted in the landscape, history and folklore of his native county of Cheshire, North West England, being set in the region and making use of the native Cheshire dialect.
Born into a working-class family in Congleton, Cheshire, Garner grew up around the nearby town of Alderley Edge, and spent much of his youth in the wooded area known locally as 'The Edge', where he gained an early interest in the folklore of the region. Studying at Manchester Grammar School and then Oxford University, in 1957 he moved to the nearby village of Blackden, where he bought and renovated an Early Modern building known as Toad Hall. His first novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, was published in 1960. A children's fantasy novel set on the Edge, it incorporated elements of local folklore in its plot and characters. Garner completed a sequel, The Moon of Gomrath (1963), but left the third book of the trilogy he had envisioned. Instead he produced a string of further fantasy novels, Elidor (1965), The Owl Service (1967) and Red Shift (1973).
Turning away from fantasy as a genre, Garner produced The Stone Book Quartet (1979), a series of four short novellas detailing a day in the life of four generations of his family. He also published a series of British folk tales which he had rewritten in a series of books entitled Alan Garner's Fairy Tales of Gold (1979), Alan Garner's Book of British Fairy Tales (1984) and A Bag of Moonshine (1986). In his subsequent novels, Strandloper (1996) and Thursbitch (2003), he continued writing tales revolving around Cheshire, although without the fantasy elements which had characterised his earlier work. In 2012, he finally published a third book in the Weirdstone trilogy.
Garner was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature in the 2001 New Year's Honours list. The Owl Service (1967) won both Carnegie Medal in Literature and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, one of six books to do so and was made into a serial by Granada Television. For the 70th anniversary of the Carnegie in 2007 it was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) was named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list by the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education in 1970, denoting that it "belongs on the same shelf" with the 1865 classic Alice in Wonderland and its sequel. The Stone Book (1976), first in the Stone Book series, won the 1996 Phoenix Award as the best English-language children's book that did not a major award when it was originally published twenty years earlier.
The artist Albin Trowski (1919 - 2012) was an accomplished oil painter, but found his true metier as a watercolourist. His artistic style reflected his innate love of life, and his work was often infused with affectionate humour and, occasionally, irony. His output was prolific and diverse, and his paintings can be found in private collections and galleries all over the world. Albin regularly provided illustrations for magazines including Yorkshire Life. Albin Trowski's paintings can be found in private collections and galleries all over the world.
"The Breadhorse is a playground game still found in England. Once, children carried each other for a prize of bread, their mid-day lunch; now the prize is more often chocolate.
Ned was always the horse when the children played Breadhorses. He always had to give the rides. He was never the rider. But one night in his dreams Ned came to understand the glory of the Great Horse and everything was changed. "Red horse or white, Breadhorse or me, we were all the same."
In this book Alan Garner and Albin Trowski have shown the primitive and ritualistic side of childhood. Ned is every child who has been bullied. But his answer was not to be a bully himself; instead he shared his dream.
Throughout the book runs the Rommany refrain "Kosko gry! Rommany gry! Muk man kistur tute knaw!" used by the Rommanies to control their excited horses."
Size: 27x20cm. Unpaginated (32 pages). Boldy illustrated in full vivid colour throughout.
ISBN: 0 00 195069 X
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