Monday, 12 January 2015


The following interview was first published in 'Book and Magazine Collector' magazine issue 31, in October 1986. The interview is presented here in two parts, this being part two. The original published feature had very few images, I have added several new images through out the feature to provide some further visual detail to the original text.- Marcus Brooks

Q: Which are, or were, your favourite old second-hand bookshops?

Peter Cushing: Any and all that I can find of this vanishing breed! Books draw me to them like steel to a magnet!

Q: What was your most unusual buy?

Peter Cushing: I once purchased five second-hand books in an Oxfam bookshop; and when  I got home, found six in my bag! Awaiting for me was a letter from my dear friend, Peter Gray asking me if I'd keep my eyes open for a copy of a book he'd been after for many years - a biography of Cardinal Newman by Maisie Ward. Upon inspecting my purchases, lo and behold, the 'odd-man-out' was that very volume! Quite an extraordinary coincidence, I think you'll agree: having paid well over the odds for my original choice of five - for such a worth-while charity - I felt this windfall was meant by some higher authority, and had no compunction in sending it off to the amazed and delighted Mr Gray, feeling the book had found its rightful home and owner. The assistant must have inadvertently picked it up from amongst the clutter on the counter, and put it in with my selection.

Q: How do you feel old books compare to modern publications, in quality, feel and beauty?

Peter Cushing: I don't really like comparisons, because what is liked today for any special quality it may possess will be sought after in the computerized years to come. There are many splendid and beautifully produced books today; but ideally speaking, I do prefer those pre 1914 - 1918 War products, lovely leather or calf bound volumes, or cloth covered with attractive decorations imprinted on the boards - and the print used for the narrative. Indeed, they had and still have a 'feel' about them - but I'm not sure when or where, or even if, nostalgia takes over here again as far as I'm concerned. There certainly seemed to be less printers' errors in those far-off days!

Q: How would you describe your main collection, and which novelists do you most like to read and collect?

Peter Cushing: The majority of my books are concerned with knowledge, which I am always seeking - encyclopedias of all descriptions abound about the house: books on nature, British social history, the theatre, period costume, toys, posters, old bound catalogs issued by Gamages, the Army and Navy Stores, etc, cigarette card collecting, paintings and artists, books of quotations, autobiographies, reference books and so on.

But I do also have a large number of novels and here I must admit that I do prefer those of the older generation. Since the lapse in censorship, there is too much that offends my senses today - in books and in films and on television. Not enough is left to the imagination of the beholder, and too much emphasis is put on the wrong sense of values, which i think is great pity, and bad for the morals - and morale - of the younger generation. No doubt I'm 'square' and had better get down from my 'soap-box', and answer your questions as to who are my favourite authors: A.J. Cronin, Howard Spring, Elizabeth Russell, E.M. Delafield, R.F. Delderfield, Nevil Shute, Daphne Du Maurier, Compton Mackenzie and Somerset Maughan.

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, what seven books would you like to have with you?

Peter Cushing: My dear fellow, this is almost impossible to answer coherently! To start with, I would be the most miserable of men away from England and home, so that I doubt I could even read - or want to! And the books I'd have with me would match the ever-changing, and prevailing, mood I might be in at the time! The same with a choice of records - those Desert Island Discs! I can only hope that the crate to hold my choice will be big enough to convert into a canoe, so that I can row back to Blighty immediately! But I must do my best, and choose - after much heart-searching - the seven (magnificent!) you've allowed me.

I take it The Bible and Shakespeare are over and above that number, as they were with the late Roy Plomley? So that'll make it nine in all. And - here I go making conditions - written on a piece of paper to use as a bookmark, two of Rupert Brooke's poems, Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier' and 'The Old Vicarage, Granchester'. I must have these: the Complete Works of Sir John Benjeman; Edward Seago's Catalogue Raisonne (not published yet, so you'll have to bide yout time before casting me away!) R.C. Sherriff's play 'Journey's End' (not the novel, so I can I have one more?) 'The Sheperd' by Frederick Forsyth' - this is only a novella, so can this and the previous one be classified as one book?? 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking-Glass' (in one volume) by Lewis Carroll; Elizabeth Russell's 'The Enchanted April'; and 'My Farm Book' by Charles Browne - my mother gave me this for Christmas 1925, when it was first published, and I've adored it ever since.

I also must have, as supplements: 'A Georgian Love Story' by Ernest Raymond; 'President Indicative' by Noel Coward (my beloved wife and I read this to each other - a chapter each!) ; 'The Birds of the British Isles and their Eggs' by T.A. Coward, illustrated by Archibald Thorburn. And I refuse to go anywhere with bound copies of the complete set of 'The Theatre World' and 'Play Pictorial' - to include the covers and all the advertisements!

And when nobody's looking, please slip in a copy of the 'Oxford Book of Quotations'. As I should wish to bring all the books back with me, please insure that the crate is large enough to take me!

Founded in 1956 and now with over 19,000 followers world wide. Come and join the UK Peter Cushing appreciation Society at facebook! Just a click away:HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...