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Publishers of award-winning illustrated books on art, history, archaeology, world cultures and more.

Exclusive artwork by Hoshino Yukinobu

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To celebrate the upcoming release of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure we’ve been working with the book’s creator-  leading manga artist, Hoshino Yukinobu- to produce some exclusive Professor Munakata themed bookplates.

Hoping to offer a small run of bookplate prints for Professor Munakata readers, imagine our delight when 200 individually signed and drawn bookplates arrived from Japan! As well as his signature, every bookplate which Hoshino Yukinobu created also features an individual, hand-drawn image of Professor Munakata – making each plate a unique work of art direct from one of Japan’s most celebrated artists.

These exclusive bookplates will be available to pick up along with your copy of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure at the British Museum manga event on 25 November.

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Read more about Hoshino Yukinobu’s work in our last blog post or read the rest of this entry for some fascinating facts about the history of bookplates, as explored in our illustrated introduction to the subject: Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates.

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Hoshino Yukinobu and Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure

Lots of excitement this week as our first ever manga,  Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure, by Hoshino Yukinobu, is now printing and will be arriving at British Museum Press HQ in less than two months!  In anticipation of its publication Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, who has been working with Hoshino sensei on the project since its inception, took a trip to Japan to show the artist the final proofs of  his book. We asked Nicole to tell us a little more about her trip, Hoshino Yukinobu, and his thoughts on the English  publication of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure. Read the rest of this entry to see what she had to report.

Through her work with Hoshino Yukinobu, Nicole inspired the character of Chris in Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

Nicole's work with Hoshino Yukinobu inspired the character of Chris in Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

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Women in the Ancient World

Yesterday saw Forbes announce their annual list of the  World’s 100 Most Powerful Women with Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Dilma Rouseff topping a list that includes politicians, CEOs, bankers, cultural icons, billionaires and entrepreneurs.

This inspiring reminder of the achievements of women in modern day society was closely followed by the arrival of our forthcoming title Women in the Ancient World (available from 26 September), offering us an alternative roll-call of women whose lives and roles went far beyond the traditional view of a ‘woman’s work’;  here are Drusilla, the first Roman woman to be recognized as a goddess;  Hatsheput, who bolstered her authority as Queen of Egypt by boldly adopting a male persona; Hypatia of Alexandria, an admired philosopher; and Sappho, one of the most famous musicians in antiquity.

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Juxtaposing these  public figures with themes such as domestic life, motherhood, stereotypes and depictions of the female body, Women in the Ancient World explores the different traditions, trends and attitudes towards women in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East, as well as revealing some surprising resonances with our own time.

Read the rest of this entry for some of our favourite images from the book:

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Author Q and A: Jenny Balfour-Paul

In the first of our new series of author interviews we spoke to Jenny Balfour-Paul, author, artist and intrepid traveller, about her new book Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans, the organic dye revolution and the differences between writing and film-making.

Jenny Balfour-Paul

How did you first become involved in the study of Indigo?

I always loved textiles and colours, especially after travelling around India in my late teens.  When living in the Arab world in my early twenties I became fascinated by local textile skills and learnt weaving and batik.  Back in UK, and by this time a practicing batik artist and teacher, I worked with the late Susan Bosence, renowned block-printer and dyer. She was passionate about indigo dyeing and encouraged me to return to Yemen in 1983 when I told her its age-old indigo traditions were on the verge of collapse. (I had visited the country earlier that year with my husband when he was organizing a conference on Yemen for Exeter University’s Arabic dept).  A first field trip to Yemen led to many more such studies all over the Arab world, resulting in a PhD (later published) at Exeter University called ‘Indigo in the Arab World’ and then to research worldwide for ‘Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans’.

How have developments in the last ten years changed the way we should look at natural dyes? Is the study of indigo more or less relevant to the world today?

It is far more relevant today.   The importance of sustainability is obvious because over-consumption is affecting us all – humans, animals and the whole planet.  The textile and fashion industries are enormous and cause huge amounts of pollution and waste.  Dyes form a large part of this.  Synthetic indigo is made from toxic ingredients whereas natural indigo from plants is non- toxic, enriches the soil, and in hotter climates indigo can be farmed in rotation with other crops, or on waste land. It also provides employment in rural regions.

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Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure

Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover artwork for our upcoming manga, Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure.

Due out in October, Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure is the first ever manga published by the British Museum Press and the result of a great collaboration between the Museum and leading Japanese artist, Hoshino Yukinobu.

The story revolves around Hoshino sensei’s most famous character, Japanese ethnologist Professor Munakata Tadakusu who has dedicated his life to unravelling the mysteries of Japan’s past.  When the Professor travels to Britain for the first time to deliver a special lecture at the British Museum he is quickly and unexpectedly drawn into a criminal plot that endangers the museum and its famous collections. The threats appear to stem from repatriation claims – but do they? And who is demanding the objects’ return?

Professor Munakata eventually uncovers a conspiracy embedded in the very heart of the museum-  but that is all we can say for  now, for the full story you will have to read the book!

Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure will be available from the British Museum shop from 26th October 2011. For more information visit the British Museum Press webpage.

Stories of Indigo

BLUE ALCHEMY: Stories of Indigo Trailer from Mary Lance on Vimeo.

Earlier this month award-winning film producer Mary Lance launched her latest project in Santa Fe. Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo is a feature documentary that weaves together visually stunning stories about the history, production and importance of indigo: the world’s only natural source of blue.

Jenny Balfour-Paul, indigo expert, artist, lecturer and British Museum Press author acted as consultant on the film and to tie in we’ll be releasing a new edition of Jenny’s classic study of indigo this summer.

Updated with a brand new final chapter, as well as a stunning new cover design, Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans is the definitive book on this magical dye; exploring everything from the historical, agricultural and botanical origins of indigo to different production and dyeing methods; commerce and economics; indigo’s continued presence in folklore, art and alternative medicine; and its iconic status as the dye that makes blue jeans blue.

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Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans will be available from the British Museum shop from 19 August.

Jenny Balfour-Paul and Mary Lance will be screening Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo at a number of UK events in Spring 2012. Subscribe to the books blog now to make sure you don’t miss any of the details.

Ritual and Honour: Warriors of the North American Plains

We’d like to introduce you to Kevin Haywahe.

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Kevin is an Assiniboine dancer who features in our new release Ritual and Honour: Warriors of the North American Plains.

Author and British Museum curator Max Carocci has been conducting research with Plains Indians since 1989 and in this beautifully illustrated book he explores the world of Native North American warfare and ritual. Through exceptional examples of feather headdresses, mocassins, painted hides, pipes and tomahawks, Ritual and Honour reveals the ceremonial, spiritual and political lives of the warriors of the North American Plains.

‘Read the rest of this entry’ for some more preview images from the book or visit the British Museum shop to find out more.

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The Ancient Olympic Games

With exactly one year to go until the London 2012 Olympics begin, advances of our forthcoming title The Ancient Olympic Games have arrived!

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Written by Judith Swaddling, with a preface by HRH The Princess Royal, this vividly illustrated title takes the reader right back to the origins of the Games: to Olympia, where people from all over the classical world flocked to attend the sacred ceremonies, celebrations and sporting competitions that were a part of the Ancient Olympic Games.

While the book highlights many differences between the ancient Games and the modern day Olympics we’ve also found out some surprising similarities. For example, the ancient Greeks spent virtually all of the year before building up to the games, with site preparations to rival the Olympic village and rigorous training schedules for all the competitors.

This quote from Epictetus’ Discourses, written in the 1st century AD, will surely resonate with all the athletes preparing to compete this time next year:

You say ‘I want to win at Olympia’. But wait. Look at what is involved… You will have to obey instructions, keep away from desserts, eat only at set hours; in both heat and cold you must not drink cold water, nor can you have a drink of wine whenever you want. You must hand yourself over to your coach exactly as you would to a doctor.” Discources, 15, 2-5

The Ancient Olympic Games will be available from the British Museum shop from 24 August, so why not prepare for the year ahead with a look back at the Olympics of the ancient past?

AD 410 The Year That Shook Rome

David Stuttard

David Stuttard

Our book, AD410 The Year That Shook Rome, will be published by the British Museum Press in March 2010.  It  celebrates (if that’s the right word) a hotly debated event, whose 1600th anniversary is being marked this year: the sack of Rome by Alaric and his Goths.

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In the week which sees the launch of the British Museum’s excellent series for BBC Radio 4, A History of the World in 100 Objects, it’s salutary to remember that objects and artefacts, while contributing so much to our knowledge of antiquity, call tell only part of the story.

If our book succeeds at all, it will be in good part down to the different backgrounds from which Sam and I approached the subject.  Sam’s background is principally that of an archaeologist and numismatist (at the British Museum), while I am a classicist with a fair experience of translating, adapting and staging ancient Greek drama.  Together, then, we bring to the story not only a rigorously scholarly approach, but – as importantly – an understanding of the human dimension.

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