Handheld Classics welcomes you to a world of forgotten fiction and marvellous stories. Scroll down to the foot of the page to see the Classics we’ve already published.
What Not is Rose Macaulay’s speculative novel of post-First World War eugenics and newspaper manipulation that anticipated Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World by 14 years. It’s a lost classic of feminist wit and protest at social engineering by politics and the media.
Kitty Grammont and Nicholas Chester are in love, but Kitty is certified as an A for breeding purposes, while Chester has been uncertificated, and may not marry. Although Kitty wields power as a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Brains, which makes these classifications, she does not have the freedom to marry who she wants. They ignore the restrictions, and carry on a discreet affair. But the popular press, determined to smash the brutal regime of the Ministry of Brains, scents an opportunity for a scandalous exposure. The introduction will be written by the journalist Sarah Lonsdale.
Handheld Classic 7, 25 March 2019. ISBN 978-1-912766-03-1
Blitz Writing: Night Shift & It Was Different At The Time
Inez Holden, edited by Kristin Bluemel
Emerging out of the 1940–1941 London Blitz, the drama of these two short works, a novel and a memoir, comes from the courage and endurance of ordinary people met in the factories, streets and lodging houses of a city under bombardment.
Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift follows a largely working-class cast of characters for five night shifts in a factory that produces camera parts for war planes. It Was Different At The Time is Holden’s account of wartime life from April 1938 to August 1941, drawn from her own diary. This was intended to be a joint project written with her friend George Orwell (he was in the end too busy to contribute), and includes disguised appearances of Orwell and other notable literary figures of the period.
Inez Holden (1903-1974) was a British writer and literary figure whose social and professional connections embraced most of London’s literary and artistic life. She modelled for Augustus John, worked alongside Evelyn Waugh, and had close relationships with George Orwell, Stevie Smith, H G Wells, Cyril Connolly, and Anthony Powell.
The introduction and notes are by Kristin Bluemel, exploring how these short prose texts work as multiple stories: of Inez Holden herself, the history of the Blitz, of middlebrow women’s writing, of Second World War fiction, and of the world of work.
Handheld Classic 8, 30 May 2019. ISBN 978-1-912766-06-2
Adrift in the Middle Kingdom
J J Slauerhoff, translated by David McKay
Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was a poet, a ship’s doctor and one of the greatest Dutch writers of the twentieth centry. This is his second novel about existential travels in 1920s China, Het leven op aarde (1934), which takes the reader from the stifling warrens and opium salons of Shanghai, to weeks of journeying along the rivers and flooded plains, to the secret city of Chungking. The epic sweep of the narrative is an enthralling as the detail of daily life in pre-Maoist China.
Handheld Classic 9, 5 August 2019. ISBN 978-1-9999448-7-2
Elizabeth von Arnim
Elizabeth von Arnim’s eighth novel is a sharp contrast to the sunny optimism of her first best-seller Elizabeth and her German Garden (1898) and her later hit The Enchanted April (1922, adapted several times for screen and stage, including the 1991 film). The Caravaners (1909) is a devastating comedy about an Edwardian caravan holiday in Kent, narrated by the pompous and self-important Baron, a Prussian Major in the German army.
His narrative of pained bewilderment at the bizarre behaviour of the English people with whom he has chosen to spend a month in a convoy of horse-drawn holiday caravans (they unaccountably cut the holiday short after only a week) is side-splittingly funny. We sympathise deeply with the lady whom he pursues in a platonic and very one-sided holiday affair, and even more with Baroness Edelgard, the Baron’s long-suffering and much younger second wife, who discovers her own holiday freedoms, and becomes newly emancipated in her marriage, to the Baron’s horror.
Handheld Classic 10, 7 October 2019. ISBN 978-1-912766-12-3
What Might Have Been
The Runagates Club
Una L Silberrad
Kingdoms of Elfin
Save Me The Waltz
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