Bookkake at Blackwell’s Manchester

This is the sight currently greeting visitor’s to Blackwell’s in Manchester – thanks to everyone there.

Pop in to the Precinct Centre on Oxford Road if you’d like to pick one up…

Posted January 16, 2012 | Comments Off on Bookkake at Blackwell’s Manchester.

Bookkake on iBooks and Kindle

Bookkake on the iPad

We’re very pleased to announce that all Bookkake titles are now available in Apple’s iBooks for download to iPhone and iPad – just search the iBookstore for “Bookkake”. All editions are priced at £4.99 or local equivalents, half the price of the paper edition.

In addition, three of the five titles are available for the Kindle.

Bookkake: dedicated to spreading dirty books as far as technology allows. Enjoy.

Posted September 20, 2010 | Comments Off on Bookkake on iBooks and Kindle.

Zeeba Sadiq

It’s with great sadness that we record the death of Zeeba Sadiq on Monday the 23rd of August.

Zeeba, who wrote the introduction to Bookkake’s edition of William Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris, was an extraordinary person, writer and friend. She was a staunch supporter of Bookkake from the outset, and it was on her insistence that Hazlitt was included: a wise and delightful choice.

Zeeba’s first novel, 38 Bahadurabad, was published by Faber & Faber in 1996, and detailed her childhood in Karachi with great wit and style. Zeeba had a passion for literature, which was expressed in endless discussions of novels and writers, and constant gifts of books to friends.

In the flyleaf of my copy of AJA Symons’ The Quest for Corvo, which details the extraordinary life of Fr Rolfe and was one of her favourite books, she wrote: “Take a trip with Corvo, and nothing will be the same again”.

No one who met Zeeba could not but apply the same words to her. She will be terribly missed. Her funeral is on Friday and after it we will have an almighty party, because that is the kind of lady she was.

Posted September 6, 2010 | Comments Off on Zeeba Sadiq.


The Bookkake Blog is on indeterminate hiatus while we rejig the site and prepare for a new collection of books. Please do join the mailing list (button at the top of the page) to be among the first to know when we launch the second collection.

In the mean time, we are still open for business, with books available from Amazon in the UK and in the United States, as well as a range of electronic platforms.

If you’re interested in the business of publishing, Bookkake publisher James Bridle continues to blog at

Posted August 17, 2010 | Comments Off on Hiatus.

The Last Tuesday Society Shop: Now with added Bookkake

If you are unaware of the existence of the fine and upstanding Last Tuesday Society, then you are probably innocently yet regretfully unaware that they recently opened a shop in Cambridge Heath, London. It is a strange and magical place, and we urge you to visit it.

And we are pleased to add further to your knowledge by announcing that as of today, the Last Tuesday Society Shop stocks the full range of Bookkake titles for your delight and edification. So there: hie ye to Mare Street.

A Happy Finish: James Gillray and the Victorian Obscenity Laws

If you wanted to get your hands on the really dirty stuff in the 19th century, you had to get it under the counter. But, you could usually get it from the same people you got your finer works from: private publishers and printers.

19th century society, and the laws in force, meant that printers had to leave out many of the saucier images from collections that had been published in their entirety in a previous era. And so it is believed to be with a collection of plates by James Gillray recently unearthed in the vaults of the Ministry of Justice:

‘The folio was carefully wrapped up alongside a collection of seized material that had been handed to the old obscene publications unit over the years. That material is fairly tame by today’s standards, but when I uncovered the folio it was clear that it was something a little out of the ordinary. Even so, after some research, I was amazed to discover it had such historic value and am pleased to now see the prints kept safe in a suitable home.’

Gillray’s drawings – including his more famous caricatures of the political figures of the time – were republished in the 1840s, but like his contemporary Thomas Rowlandson – of whom we have written before – Gillray also produced a body of work of an even more controversial nature.

It’s believed that this slim volume of ‘Curiosa’ would have reproduced those engravings excised from the main 1840 editions of Gillray’s work, and privately sold to the more curious collector. Some way along the line, it fell into the hands of the Victorian Vice Squad, but it has now, to much rejoicing, been presented to the nation, and appropriately to the Victoria and Albert museum, where it is viewable in the museum’s prints room.

We’re very grateful to the V&A for supplying Bookkake with a few images from the collection – tame by today’s standards, yes, but not without charm. And we’d love to know what else a clear-out of the old obscene publications store might reveal… (Click for much larger versions).

Fashionable Contrasts; or the Duchess’s little shoe yielding to the magnitude of the Duke’s Foot, 1792

Ladies Dress, as it soon will be, 1796

ci-Devant Occupations; or Madame Talian and the Empress Josephine Dancing Naked before Barras in the Winter of 1797, 1805

All images by James Gillray, © V&A Images, reproduced with permission.

Posted January 6, 2010 | Comments Off on A Happy Finish: James Gillray and the Victorian Obscenity Laws.

Immanent in the Manifold City: A Newspaper for Time-Travellers


Update: This newspaper is now for sale.

I have been somewhat obsessed with the eccentric figure of Walking Stewart for a number of years, since first encountering him in some dusty library, at the unpopular end of De Quincey’s “Collected Works”.

A strange, liminal figure, Stewart seems to stalk the margins of the Nineteenth Century, his own, multitudinous, works forgotten, but his footsteps echoing through the recollections of his contemporaries. I’ve wanted to do something with him for ages.


When Newspaper Club offered me another chance to make a newspaper – following the summer’s Book Club Boutique paper – I decided to attempt that something.

One of the odd qualities attributed to Stewart was his ubiquity: a perceived ability to be in more than one place at a time. Following a lifetime of walking across the known world, his final years in London were spent in seemingly unending peregrinations across the city, and more than one commentator recorded encountering him in impossible positions: sat steadfast upon Westminster Bridge, and minutes later, as steadfast upon a bench in St James’ Park. De Quincey himself records passing him at Somerset House, and then overtaking him again on Tottenham Court Road – despite having taken the shortest route through Covent Garden.


Drawing upon OpenStreetMap, styled with Cloudmade to resemble antique atlases, I collected these routes and anecdotes, and present them here in newspaper form. But the newspaper is a foldable, pliable thing, just as Stewart himself seemed to fold the cityscape around himself. And so we have maps that can fold upon themselves to delineate not only the narrator’s journey, but that of Stewart himself. Folded correctly, the maps reveal how Stewart breaks the margins of the map to travel, invisibly, through space and time.

There is also an introductory essay – a meditation on ubiquity, immanence and time travel, drawing on Stewart’s life, Jewish mysticism, Deleuzian metaphysics and special relativity – together with selected quotes and sources.

The first edition of the newspaper is produced in a limited run of five copies. Following investigation and use, there may be a second edition at some future point in time – or space…

Update: This newspaper is now for sale.

Full image set at Flickr →


Dirty Mondays: Cock up yer Beaver

Beavers – the aquatic, tree-felling, dam-building rodent – are currently being reintroduced to Scotland, as related in a long article in this Sunday’s Observer, and not without controversy. The article’s author, Tim Adams, notes that the anti-Beaver parties might take their rallying cry from Robert Burns’ 1792 call to arms Cock up yer Beaver.

A beaver in this context refers of course to a hat, probably but not exclusively made from beaver pelt. Burns’ air is an exhortation to the brave Johnie to set such a hat straight and have a go at the English, but it more than raises a smile on a grey Monday morning, whichever way you take it.

Cock Up Yer Beaver

When first my brave Johnie lad came to this town,
He had a blue bonnet that wanted the crown,
But now he has gotten a hat and a feather –
Hey, brave Johnie lad, cock up yer beaver!

Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu’ sprush!
We’ll over the border and gie them a brush:
There’s somebody there we’ll teach better behavior –
Hey, brave Johnie lad, cock up yer beaver!

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)

If you’d like to hear the poem in the original Scots, the BBC has a recording read, appropriately, by Alan Cumming.

Beaver shot by Paul Stevenson, used under Creative Commons.

Posted December 7, 2009 | Comments Off on Dirty Mondays: Cock up yer Beaver.

The Anti-French Song: Henry Purcell and Xenophobia

I was recently listening to Thomas d’Urfey‘s The Comical History of Don Quixote and one song in particular caught my ear. d’Urfey’s rather imaginative adaptation of Cervantes’ novel – think of Michael Winterbottom’s Cock & Bull Story as it emerges from Tristram Shandy – was originally performed in 1694 and comprises dialogue interspersed with songs by Henry Purcell, whose instrumental pieces I know reasonably well, but whose songs are a different matter entirely.

“The Anti-French Song”, as it is referred to in the play, was very much a staple of the time, and, again as in the play, was usually paired with a pro-British one – in this case, it’s swiftly followed by the even more patriotic “Genius of England”. But what makes the song rather wonderful is that it manages to combine England’s natural xenophobia with an explicit rejection of racism, running straight from Little Englander rallying-cry (“leave the cheese and wine on the beach and bugger orf”) to a celebration of miscegenation.

So, here’s an MP3 which you can listen to with the following player, and I’ve had a go at transcribing the lyrics below – with a few gaps if anyone can help me fill them in, or correct me. Enjoy!

You can never trust a Frenchman

You can never trust a Frenchman,
Nor any of their henchmen,
Or Germans or Dutch
Or the Belgians and such,
They’re as bad as lawyers and benchmen.

The grubby Europeans,
Sing their own praise in paeans,
But the Channel is wide
Let them stay on their side,
Where they’ve been for countless aeons.

Their language sounds like twitter,
All lips and teeth and squitter,
Their cheese and their wine
May be all of very fine.
But you can’t beat English bitter.

And French sophistication,
Just gives you constipation,
When they murmur amour
We are all dead sure
They’re the world’s least sexy nation.

So let us raise our glasses,
As England’s glory passes,
To aristocrats
And to middle-class prats,
And the glorious working classes.

The Scotsman has his sporran,
Snug in his Glasgow warren,
And the Welshman’s a lad
And the Irish are mad,
But none of us is foreign.

So praise our bastard nation,
An incredible creation,
Of Latins and Celts
And Saxons that melts
Into pure miscegenation.

And Welcome other races,
With different shades of faces,
Come and join in the song,
Sing it with us so long
As the French stay in their places!

(Corrected: Thanks to Max for the updates!)

The original full text of the play, as printed in 1729 without the songs, is available on Google Books.

Posted December 3, 2009 | Comments Off on The Anti-French Song: Henry Purcell and Xenophobia.

Dirty Mondays: Catullus 16

Brought to mind by a recent court case, and with thanks to Julian at Sybawrite, Bookkake’s Dirty Monday Poem returns for a special one-off.

“City boss denies lewd latin claim” goes the BBC headline, but it’s hard to deny your intentions when the latin in question was “irrumabo vos et pedicabo vos”. “The phrase threatens a violent sex act” says the BBC coyly, but any serious classicist knows it’s a lot more fun than that. It is of course the first (and last) line of the sixteenth of Catullus’ Carmina, the “angry love poems”, in which he furiously attacks those who disparage his work. It is also a long time favourite of the more easily amused scholar – among whom we happily count ourselves.

A literal translation is supplied below, and you’ll probably appreciate Wikipedia’s notes on the language too.

Catullus 16

I will bugger you and face-fuck you.
Cock-sucker Aurelius and catamite Furius,
You who think, because my verses
Are delicate, that I am a sissy.
For it’s right for the devoted poet to be chaste
Himself, but it’s not necessary for his verses to be so.
Verses which then have taste and charm,
If they are delicate and sexy,
And can incite an itch,
And I don’t mean in boys, but in those hairy old men
Who can’t get their flaccid dicks up.
You, because you have read of my thousand kisses,
You think I’m a sissy?
I will bugger you and face-fuck you.

Posted November 30, 2009 | Comments Off on Dirty Mondays: Catullus 16.

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