I have over the years read quite a few books and in this section I am just recording some of those that were memorable or were of particular interest to me. The first section is the books that I read before 1980 and the second section is a selection from the books that I read after 1980. I have also included a few notable volumes from the Linley Wood library.
At this point I could say that if you don’t read books, then don’t bother reading any further, but of course I then realised, if you don’t read books then you won’t have read this far anyway!
Books I read before 1980
I read very little in the first 20 years of my life. So few books in fact, that I think I can confidently list them all as follows:
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, 1926
This was a nice story despite the title conjuring up a rather smelly theme. I remember the honey jar.
Buller’s Birds of New Zealand edited by EG Turbott, 1967
An updated edition of ‘A History of the Birds of New Zealand’ by Sir Walter Lawry Buller, 1888. This was a very expensive book but my mother had a copy at St Mary’s School and she brought it home so we could see it. I did not read it cover to cover but I looked at all the pictures and I read some of the sections. It was great being able to learn the names of the birds and then try and spot them whenever we walked in the native bush. I always remember reading about the Huia which is now extinct, the last sighting noted as being in 1907. Reading this book, was the point in my life when I started to think about what we humans were doing to the planet. When I was born in 1959 there were about 3 billion humans on the planet. Now in 2020 there are 7.8 billion and the population is growing by 1 million every 4 days. This is a major problem but sadly very few people talk about it.
New Zealand Flowers and Plants in Colour by John Tension Salmon, 1970
Wonderful book, containing lots of photographs, all about the native plants of New Zealand, quite a few of which were in the Egmont National Park (Mt Taranaki). We spent ages flicking through this book and learning the names of the plants. I used to like looking out for the Totara as I think it was the tallest species of tree in Taranaki.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare, 1606?
We did this play in the 3rd form with our English teacher Mr Custer. I remember that it started off with three witches and a little while later Macbeth murdered King Duncan and found it difficult to wash his hands (should have used more soap). After that there was a lot of people who certainly didn’t like each other and consequently they were bumping each other off left right and centre. In the end Macduff killed Macbeth and of course that was the end of the story. It is certainly an historical part of our culture, but I didn’t enjoy reading it.
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, 1913
3rd form play. Professor Higgins teaches Eliza Doolittle how to speak and thus pretend to be a member of the upper classes. Interesting to look back, as over my lifetime the class structure has largely disappeared, and now most people just speak the way they want to. This play was also adapted to make the musical ‘My Fair Lady’.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, 1940
Another one that I did at school but I am not sure what year, possibly 3rd form. A very sad story, set in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The main character didn’t get to live happily ever after. There was also a film version made in 1943 staring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. I think it was one of those Sunday afternoon matinee films that we watched on our black and white TV back in Stratford in the 1960s.
The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan, 1946
We did this one in the 4th form with our English Teacher Mr Milne. Ronnie Winslow is expelled from school for stealing a 5 shilling postal order. It turns out that he was falsely accused so his father contests the case and wins. Lots of things happen in between. I enjoyed this play.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, 1929
A novel that we read in the 5th form. My memory is of the soldier Paul Bäumer who is rather lost when he gets sucked into being a German soldier in WW1. Sad story which depicts the cold reality of war and the disconnections in society.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, 1895
5th form play. I always remember the line said by Lady Bracknell “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”. It’s a great play.
The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway, 1951
We read this in the 5th form. I enjoyed this because I liked fishing and Santiago, who is the main character, really does catch a whopper.
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, 1749
An excellent action-packed story and at the end Tom Jones marries Sophia Western. This was the first real novel that I read of my own volition. If I was handing out gold stars, I would give it 5.
The Betrothed by Sir Walter Scott, 1825
A lovely book with a girl called Eveline and a boy called Damian. The story takes place about a thousand years ago during the crusades. All sorts of people do all sorts of horrible things but by the end Damian and Eveline have fallen in love and get married. My kind of book. Top marks.
The Guns of Navarone, 1957. Ice Station Zebra, 1963. Where Eagles Dare, 1967. All by Alistair Maclean.
These are action packed novels and in each case the hero is a great guy who continually dices with death but somehow survives. I enjoyed them at the time, but I probably wouldn’t read them again.
Some Novels by Agatha Christie
I can’t remember the titles, but each of them had a murder which took an incredibly long time to solve. After reading these I have generally avoided ‘who done it’ novels.
Run for the Trees by James S Rand, 1968
This book is very politically incorrect (non-pc). It is a story set in Africa about two characters who are great white hunters who have lots of sex with both white and back women some of whom are really slaves. Lots of lions and big cats get shot. In fact this book is so non-pc that it is no longer in print and if you search on google to find out about the author, strangely he does not seem to exist. Very spooky. Treating women and animals this way is very wrong. I would not recommend reading this book.
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1936
I found this book to be a fascinating portrayal of the privileged lifestyle (for the few) in the southern states of America which, at the time, was propped up by by slavery. After the American Civil War (1861-1865) everything really had gone with the wind. The heroine Scarlett O'Hara sees it all come and go and she then has to start from scratch to build her new life. I also enjoyed seeing the film with Scarlett and Rhett played by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable (1939). A very long film and it was in colour (not black and white).
PSSC Physics Third Edition by Uri Haber-Schaim, 1971
I would not recommend reading this book, but I thought it would be nice to list it, as it was my text book during my last year of Physics at Whanganui Collegiate School in 1976. I bought another copy recently and I am hoping to read some of it, just to see if my brain can still understand it.
The above titles are the sum total of all the books I read before the age of 21. There will be a few that I have missed but not very many.
Books I read after 1980
By the time I reached the age of 21 years, I realised I had a problem, in that my ability to read, write and communicate was rather limited. To address this deficiency, I decided to do the following:
To start the ball rolling, I needed to find some books that would be suitable for me. Some books looked interesting but of course, “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. I had to try and identify which books would be likely to be useful to me. Some books might not be captivating but could still be well worth reading. I needed to think of it as more of a challenge, rather than a recreation. So, my starting point was, which books should I read?
I thought about this and realised that I needed to apply a bit of logic. As a general guide, I decided to read books that were old, but were still in print. If a book had been written more than 100 years ago, and people were still buying copies, and presumably still reading it, then surely there must be something in it worth reading.
I bought a selection that met my criteria and I made a start. In general, I read them cover to cover but I didn’t find this to be easy. I would read a page and then not have any memory of what I had just read. At the same time, I found that the title and the name of the author would quickly be forgotten, unless I flicked back and looked at the title page. Some words I didn’t recognise, so I was continually looking them up in a dictionary (this was before Google). Some books I just could not make heads or tails of any of it. Nevertheless, I just kept at it.
Living for a while in Egypt and later in the Sultanate of Oman, gave me a lot of spare time and reading was a good way to take full advantage of the situation. I persevered and every time I completed a book I felt a sense of achievement, so much so, that I have kept most of the books that I have ever read. It’s a bit strange, but when I have had a book in my hands for a few days or weeks, and I have carefully worked my way through all the pages, I sort of feel an attachment to it and I don’t really want to part with it. I suppose it is that collecting affliction that I suffer from.
As time went on, I am pleased to say, I developed much better abilities at reading and writing. I know I will never be top form, as I am really a numbers person, more than a words person. Over the years I have come to particularly enjoy history books and biographies. Fiction can often be a good read, but nonfiction is more real, and I find people’s lives to be very absorbing and often very entertaining. At the same time, the more I read, the more my knowledge builds up and so whenever I start reading a new book, I often know something of the background and this makes it much easier to understand a book that other people might otherwise find a bit heavy going.
Another thing that has happened in parallel during this time, is my collection of books relating to my forebears. Some of these books were written by my ancestors and some were written about events that they were involved in. I have a large archive of old letters and family diaries. I also have quite a few books from the ancestral home of Linley Wood.
The library at Linley Wood was initially formed by James Caldwell (1759-1838) and then over the years it steadily grew, as later generations added more books to the shelves. Most of these books were sold off in 1949 but some stayed in the family and I managed to get the remains from my late aunt’s estate in 2005 (303 volumes). This collection was further enlarged when I met a book dealer whose grandfather had bought a lot of these family volumes at the auction in 1949 and there were quite a few, still in his stock, 60 years later (160 volumes). Other copies have turned up from time to time in bookshops and via auctions and also a few from other distant relatives. Building the Linley Wood library back up again, has been a great hobby and has given me a lot of fun. It now contains about 500 books from the original library and a further 500 with various associations. These are all pre-1900 and the oldest volume is dated 1560. What makes them even more fascinating, is that lots of them have bookplates and inscriptions, just inside the front cover, documenting the name of the original owner and sometimes the names of the people who the volume was later passed on to.
Over the recent years I have had the pleasure to meet a number of historians who have been writing books on various subjects, often overlapping with my own interests. In some cases, these historians have used information referenced from my archive and the really great thing is that they have then printed my name in their acknowledgement section. I have had great joy reading these books, as it has been a lovely feeling to know that I have had a very small part in their conception.
The following list is not all the books I have read, but I have listed a reasonable selection to give you a flavour of what I found interesting and why. I have also listed a few interesting volumes from my family library. For simplicity, I have put them in order of publication, with the oldest ones first and the more modern ones towards the end.
This is the book that everyone knows the title but no one knows who wrote it, and I find very few people have ever read it. Although I am not at all religious, I have read the whole of the Old Testament from start to finish. It took me about three months and it was a real slog. If the Bible was being published today for the first time, I don’t think it would be a best seller. The other problem is that it is definitely non-pc. There is lots of killing going on, lots of people are slaves and most of the women are treated like second class citizens. However, in amongst it all, are the little stories that we have often heard of. Many are fully covered, only within a few pages (Adam & Eve, The Baby Moses, David & Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, …). There are also lots of phrases that are quite common in today’s language but few people realise they are from the Bible (by the skin of my teeth, a drop in the bucket, a scapegoat, the ends of the earth, bite the dust, the blind leading the blind, a broken heart, can a leopard change his spots, go the extra mile, see eye to eye, writing on the wall, …).
I have also read the New Testament but this was the children’s version and I read this with my son Daniel when he was about 10 years old. It was an excellent read and I enjoyed all the individual stories within it. The thing that really is special about the Bible is that it is one of the fundamental building blocks of our modern civilization. If you are interested in the English Language or History then the Bible is well worth reading.
A very good modern book, all about the history of The Bible, is ‘The Book of Books’ by Melvyn Bragg, 2001.
The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer
Written around 700BC this story is so old that no one knows who Homer was or even if he actually wrote these stories. Either way, they are great books, all about Achilles, Helen of Troy, Hector and the Trojan Wars. A big wooden horse turns up in the middle somewhere. Later on, after the war is done and dusted, Odysseus journeys home having all sorts of scrapes on the way. Full of adventure, the modern edition has of course been modified and is actually quite readable.
Ecclesiastical History of the English People, by Bede
Assumed to have been written around 731AD. This is the earliest history book about England. It covers the Romans and then a bit of darkness and then the arrival of the light of Christianity. By then Bede is up to date, so he is not able to write about what happened after that. If he had lived for another 200 years he could have written about King Alfred the Great and all those horrid Vikings.
This is an an Old English poem consisting of alliterative lines (not rhyme). The oldest known copy is written in old English and dates to around 1000AD but the story itself is much earlier. Beowulf is a Scandinavian King who has all sorts of adventures with lots of people killing each other. I found it very difficult to read but at least I now know what it is. I think really Beowulf was a Viking.
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
The various items of poetry in this book were probably written around 1100AD. The poems became very popular in England in 1859 when Edward FitzGerald produced a translation loosely based on the original but modified to give it a good feel for English readers. The copy that I read was a translation by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs published in 1979 and presented as being closer to the original version. It was an excellent read. Edward Fitzgerald is an interesting character and he knew one of my ancestors (Dr Richard Jones). In my library I have one of Edward Fitzgerald’s books (Gallery of Portraits with Memoirs 1833), with his bookplate pasted inside the front cover. One day I must read his version of the Rubaiyat.
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Written somewhere between 1387 and 1400. Lots of short stories. This is written in old English but well worth reading.
Utopia, by Thomas More, 1516
Thomas More’s perfect world that he had in his head in 1516 (in Latin). Sadly, he fell out with King Henry VIII a few years later, as life at that time was far from perfect and in 1535 Thomas More lost his head anyway. Definitely worth reading, if only to understand where the word utopia came from.
The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli, 1532
My copy was a modern Penguin edition. Very interesting book where Machiavelli writes what could be a sort of handbook for ‘great men’ to learn the best ways to totally crush any political opponents with the objective being to stop any unrest. I think the best thing I got from reading this book was I found out the background to the word ‘Machiavellian’.
Julius Caesar Sive Historiae, by Hubert Goltzius, 1563
Julius Caesar Sive Historiae Imperatorvm Caesarvmqve Romanorvm. I have listed this book here because it is the oldest book to survive from the family library at Linley Wood. It is all in Latin and I am never going to read it. I think even if you were a Latin scholar you probably still would not read it. It is not really a book, it is a relic of my family history.
Chronicles of England Scotland & Ireland, by Raphael Holinshed and William Harrison, 1587
Another book from the Linley Wood library. This one was in my grandfather’s study when I cleared my late Aunt’s house in 2005. This book itself is a very old history book and it is said that William Shakespeare used a copy of this book as his main source of information when he was writing some of his historical plays.
Francis Marsh’s family Bible, 1641
This Bible is another family relic and in the front is a handwritten note confirming that my great x7 grandfather Francis Marsh was shipwrecked off the coast of the Isle of Wight in 1694. He was the only survivor and was washed up “half dead” on the coast clinging onto a pig skin for flotation. The pig skin also contained his money and this bible. Quite incredible. There are another approx 500 volumes still existing in what remains in my family library. They are all very precious to me.
Christopher Crowe’s family Bible, 1660
This is a beautiful Bible with the covers being done with top quality green leather made from a lizard skin. The edges of the covers are solid silver and it has a silver hinged spine. In the middle of the front cover is the family coat of arms of Christopher Crowe who lived in the mid 1600s and is assumed to be an ancestor but he is so far back in time that it is not possible to know exactly what the connection is.
The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1669.
Samuel Pepys diary covers the period 1660 to 1669. This is the period of the restoration of King Charles II and the first 9 years of his reign. Lots of things happen and are duly recorded, in particular to do with the navy and with Pepy’s own private life. My copy was printed in 1936 and I had assumed it covered the full text. There is certainly a lot of text, about 1300 pages, and it took a long time to read. There were a few odd bits where the words did not seem to flow. One moment he would be admiring the beauty of his serving girl and the next moment he would be putting money in the collection box. I found out a few years later that my 1936 version had been censored and his record of his numerous sexual liaisons had all been removed. This is an excellent diary but if you decide to read it, I recommend that you read a modern edition – just to ensure you get the full picture.
The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, 1677
All about a guy called Christian who leaves his hometown (the City of Destruction) and tries to get to the Celestial City. Along the way he goes through all sort of places including the Valley of the Shadow of Death. All sorts of hopeless people cross his path including Discretion, Prudence, Piety, Charity, Hopeful, Faithful and many more, all with names well and truly loaded with double meaning. Its worth reading because of its historical context but I did find it a bit heavy going.
Abridgment of the History of the Reformation, by Gilbert Burnet, 1683
This book is from the Linley Wood library and was owned by Thomas Bentley who was the partner of Josiah Wedgwood. Thomas’s niece Elizabeth Stamford married James Caldwell and this book then ended up in the Linley Wood library. I would imagine that their daughter Anne Marsh Caldwell probably used it as source book when she wrote ‘Protestant Reformation in France’, which she published in 1847.
A New Voyage Round The World, by William Dampier, 1697
This book was of great interest to me as I have an original copy from the Linley Wood library. The book itself is not easy to read but it is worth persevering with, as it is a first hand account of history being made.
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, 1719
First published in 1719 and there was a copy in the Linley Wood library of which I still have the first 349 pages but the other half of this volume is long gone. It’s a great story but initially as you start to read through, you find the language a bit odd. If you persevere, it is interesting, in that you will find that your brain starts to adapt and after a while the language all flows quite nicely. Of course, the story is about a guy who gets marooned on an island for 26 years and he is finally rescued in 1686. Obviously, there is no sex in this story. Other stories by Defoe that do have a bit of sex in them include the novels ‘Roxana’ and ‘Moll Flanders’ both of which are a good romp. ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ is an excellent fictional account of what happened when the Plague hit England in 1665. I also have the Linley Wood copy of ‘The Political History of the Devil’, 1726, but I have never read it.
James Caldwell’s family Bible, 1736
Yes, its another Bible passed down in the family. This one was owned by my great x5 grandfather who was another James Caldwell (1721-1791). They all liked their Bibles.
History of Czar Peter the Great, by John Banks, 1740
A copy from the Linley Wood library and inside the cover is the signature of my great x6 grandfather John Stamford. This copy was sold in the Linley Wood auction in 1949 and then bought back by me in 2016. I have not yet read it but I would assume that it is probably a very interesting book.
The Other Side of the Question, by the Duchess of Marlborough, 1744
With the bookplate of James Stamford Caldwell of Linley Wood. This volume came up for sale on the internet in 2004 and was the first of many books that I brought from the bookdealer Robert Gibb. It subsequently transpired that his grandfather had been to the Linley Wood auction in 1949 when my grandfather sold the family estate. All together Robert managed to find me a further 160 volumes that had come from the family library.
Voyage Round the World, by George Anson, 1748
All about George Anson’s voyage around the world from 1740-1744 during which time his squadron of boats fought the Spanish and were exceedingly lucky to capture a gold ship which made them all very rich men. I have a 1776 copy from the Linley Wood library with the signature of James Stamford Caldwell. I have read a modern version and this is an excellent story of bravery and determination. It should be noted that of the original 1,854 sailors only 188 survived.
The Rambler, by Samuel Johnson, 1751
An 8 volume set of books from Joseph Heath’s Circulating Library. My great x6 grandfather Joseph Heath and his son Joseph Heath ran a ‘Circulating Library’ in Nottingham in the mid 1700s. These were the earliest version of commercial libraries, available to the public. There is a bookplate inside confirming that the library contained “above 2000 volumes” and membership of the library cost 8 shillings per year. I had known about this Circulating Library for quite a few years and I had always been on the lookout for a copy. Finally, in 2018 this set turned up from a book dealer in Edinburgh and of course I was very pleased to be able to purchase it.
Candide, by Voltaire, 1759
A young man called Candide coming of age in mid 18th century France. Lots of bits of funny humour make this an enjoyable read.
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, by Dr Samuel Johnson, 1759
I came across this book purely by chance and really enjoyed reading it. I also have a 1775 edition which came from the Linley Wood library and was owned by my great x5 grandfather George Marsh. The author, Dr Johnson, was of course he who wrote the Dictionary in 1755. Rasselas is a story about a prince who lives a pampered life and decides to go out into the real world to find out what life is like for normal people. What he finds is that everybody has good times and bad times and people make good choices and bad choices. Very unusual philosophical story and it is a pity that it is not more well known. I would give it 5 stars out of 5!
Boswell’s London Journal, by James Boswell 1762-1763
Not actually published until 1950, this gives a very detailed account of London during this period and Boswell’s time with the famous Dr Samuel Johnson (he who wrote the dictionary). Boswell also details some of his liaisons with the ladies, but he ends up getting the clap and had to go home to Scotland to recuperate. Boswell also wrote ‘The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D’, 1785 and ‘Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D’, 1791. All of these are excellent and well worth reading.
The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith, 1766
A very nice fictional story all about the trials and tribulations of the family of Dr Charles Primrose, who is the Vicar of Wakefield. Lots of money gets lost and then in the end, money turns up and lots of people get married. An excellent story.
Diaries of James Caldwell, 1770
The manuscript diaries of my great x4 grandfather James Caldwell (1759-1838). These are all hand written diaries starting with his records of pottery experiments when as a teenager he was working for Josiah Wedgwood in the 1770s. The diaries then continue through most of his life and record meetings, formal and informal, with all the people that he came in contact with. There are approximately 50 family diaries from the Linley Wood library written by various ancestors and relatives and a further 2,000 letters and associated documents. I will not record them all here but I just list James Caldwell’s to give an indication of what these are.
Humphry Clinker, by Tobias Smollett, 1771
A wonderful book about the travels of the family of Matthew Bramble around the UK, in the mid 1700s, with stopovers in Bath, London, Scarborough and Edinburgh. Written as a series of letters by different authors. This story contains lots of humour because it presents the perceptions of the different members of the group. They are all going to the same places and interacting with the same people but in each case, seeing everything completely differently.
Gay’s Poems, by John Gay, 1775
I came across this book by chance in a second-hand bookshop in Dorset in 2004. The reason it was of interest to me was because it has an inscription inside the cover from my great x5 grandfather, George Marsh. It was a very cheap purchase, as it was only 3 volumes of 4. By an extra bit of good luck, the 4th volume came up for sale in another bookshop 13 years later. I have always been very pleased with this purchase.
Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World, by Fanny Burney, 1778
This is a lovely book but it is written as a series of letters which makes it a bit strange to start off with but after a while you get used to it. Probably more popular with the girls than with the boys, however I still enjoyed it.
The Naval History of Great Britain, by Frederic Hervey, 1779
This is the earliest published book to feature an engraved illustration by my great x4 Grandfather James Heath. Most of the illustrations are of famous English admirals. By this time Great Britain was becoming the greatest naval power in the world. A strong navy enabled the country to protect its trade network and this is one of the main reasons why Great Britain was to become a very rich country. Books about the history of the navy became very popular and the consumers were happy to pay good money for a very expensive production like this 5 volume set.
The Pleasures of Memory, by Samuel Rogers, 1793
I have never been all that keen on reading poetry but I have read a few pages from this book and I hope to read all of it one day. In the late 1700s reading poetry books became very popular. This particular example was first published in 1792 with the illustrated version coming out the following year (1793). Illustrations in those days were made from a copperplate engraving and so were very time consuming and expensive to produce. Some books would just have an engraved picture on the title page, while more expensive versions would have a further 4 engravings spread through the text. In this example 2 of the 4 illustrations were engraved by James Heath and hence have his name in small letters in the bottom right hand corner (plate size 9cm x 67cm). As these small poetry books were expensive productions they would often be bound in very elaborate leather bindings with gold tooling on the spines and covers. Sometimes the pages would also be tipped with gold on the edges making the book an absolutely delightful item to look at.
Camilla, by Francis Burney, 1796
A first edition copy from the Linley Wood library. What is interesting about this book is that there is a list of ‘subscribers’ in the front. In those days the production of a book was a big investment and so some publishers sold the copies in advance. These early buyers were referred to as ‘subscribers’ and their names were printed in the front to make them feel good. My great x4 grandmother Elizabeth Caldwell (1754-1831) is listed as a subscriber and this is of course her copy. Another person listed on the subscriber list is ‘Miss J Austen’. This is a long story and takes up 5 volumes but I must admit that I have not yet read it. I will keep it on my to do list.
Dictionary, by Dr Samuel Johnsons, 1799
First published in 1755 as ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’, this book is a must for any library. My copy was published in 1799 and just inside the cover, opposite the title page, is a portrait of Dr Johnson, engraved by James Heath.
D. J. Juvenalis Satiræ XVI. ad opitimorum exemplarium fidem recensitæ, 1801
A book in Latin but I have no idea what it is about but it was from the Linley Wood library. Inside the front cover is an inscription ‘J Stamford Caldwell, St John’s College, Cambridge, College Prize Book for 1806’. One volume was found at my late Aunt’s house and the second volume was found in the stock of the bookdealer Robert Gibb. They had been separated for 67 years and it was a wonderful feeling when I was able to reunite them (even though I have no intention of ever reading them).
This is a very large production, consisting of 6 huge volumes containing 10 engravings with a large plate size of 31cm x 20cm. In addition to being the engraver, James Heath was also the main backer for this project and he launched his prospectus 8 years earlier in 1796 to attract advance subscribers to help fund the project. First published in 1802, there were various editions on until 1818.
Sense and Sensibility, by Miss Jane Austen 1811
We all love all the novels of Jane Austen. ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Emma’, etc. They are full of funny characters and everything has a sense of real life but the really good thing is that most of the characters all live happily ever after. We know it is all fiction. Sadly Jane’s life did not end like one of her novels, she never married and she died in 1817 at the age of 42 and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. I often see references to her whenever I venture into town (into Winchester).
Waverley by Sir Walter Scott, 1825
All about Edward Waverley who gets caught up in the Scottish rebellion of 1745. At the same time there is a love story going on with Edward and Rose (I do think that Rose is a lovely name for a young 18th century maiden). This novel became the first volume of a series known as ‘Waverley Novels’ which included some other well known titles; ‘Rob Roy’, ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘The Betrothed’ (as mentioned above), ‘The Talisman’, ‘Redgauntlet’, ‘The Antiquary’. Very popular in Victorian times but not so well known now. I enjoyed reading them.
Cyclopaedia, by Abraham Rees, 1819
This is a truly mammoth set of encyclopaedia consisting of 46 huge volumes and it has been passed down from the Linley Wood library. It was without a doubt the most expensive set of books that James Caldwell ever purchased and it is so large that it was never thrown out and was still in my grandfather’s bookcase, when I cleared his house, after the death of my late aunt in 2005. Of course, we no longer need encyclopaedias, as we now use Google, but this set of books, even if never read, is very special.
Pleasures of Hope, by Thomas Campbell, 1821
This is another lovely little poetry book with 4 engraved illustrations (engraved by Charles Heath) but the very special thing about this particular example, is that it was the first book in the world to feature engravings from a steel plate, rather than a copper plate. This was a major technological advance in its time. Copper was easier to engrave but after a few thousand prints had been taken, the copper plate would no longer be useable. Engraving on steel allowed the possibility to then harden the steel and make further impressions of the plate onto softer steel which could then in turn be hardened. This process was very important for the production of banknotes and later on for postage stamps which needed the illustrations to be printed in much higher numbers. James Heath’s son, Charles Heath was also one of the leading businessmen behind this new technology.
Shipwreck, by Falconer, 1822 RNC
The special thing about this little volume is that it was a prize book given to my great x2 grandfather Adm Sir Leopold George Heath when he passed out of the Royal Naval College (RNC). The inscription records a prize for maths in 1831. He would have been 14 years old and this was the year that he went away to sea as a cabin boy. Beautifully bound in blue leather with gold tooling and in the middle of the front cover in large letters RNC. Inside there is a small illustration of a shipwreck and this is engraved by Leopold’s uncle ‘Charles Heath’. I have always thought it a bit strange for a young naval cadet to have a poetry book about being shipwrecked but perhaps it appealed to his sense of humour. The other thing to note is that the author William Falconer first published this work in 1762 but he himself subsequently had the misfortune to be drowned in a shipwreck in 1769.
Trial of Mr Fauntleroy relating to the Marsh bank crash, by Pierce Egan, 1824
Fascinating account of the aftermath of the collapse of the Marsh bank, where all the blame was put on the junior partner Mr Fauntleroy. The senior partner William Marsh (my great x4 grandfather) got away scott free but Fauntleroy was found guilty and was hung only three months afterwards. Justice was swift in those days. Today if you are a banker you can steal everyone’s money and get away with it, as long as you do it within the rules so it can be referred to as adverse market circumstances. Of course we are not allowed to accuse the bankers of stealing all our money. Instead of being hung, they have all been given ‘golden handshakes’.
Two Old Men’s Tales, by Anne Marsh Caldwell, 1834
Two stories (‘The Deformed’ and ‘The Admiral's Daughter’) written by my great x3 grandmother, this being the first that she ever published. She wrote about 30 books, most of them novels, but she also wrote a history book about France and she wrote a few children’s books. I have read most of them and really enjoyed them, as they gave me an insight into her mind. She was reasonably popular in her time but is now almost unknown. In addition to her books, I also have in the family archive most of her diaries and a large collection of associated family letters.
Robert Hesketh’s family Bible, 1838
Another family Bible. This one owned by my Hesketh ancestors and full of inscriptions recording marriages, births and deaths over a 100 year period. In particular it covers the marriage of 48 year old Robert Hesketh (1789-1868) to 18 year old Georgiana Raynsford (1819-1910), my great x3 grandparents. Although there was a 30 year gap in their ages, they appear to have had a happy life and they had 13 children, the last one arriving in 1857 when Robert was 68 years old. Fantastic piece of family history memorabilia.
Arabian Nights Entertainments, 1840
An old book from the Linley Wood library. This is based on the ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ or the ‘Arabian Nights’ which is a set of very old stories that probably originated in India or Persia in the 8th century. Over time they were translated into Arabic and adopted in some of the Middle Eastern countries. More stories like ‘Aladdin's Lamp’, ‘Sinbad the Sailor’ and ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ were added and in the early 1700s they were translated into French and then English. I have read a modern version of the Arabian Nights and I enjoyed the stories.
Results of Reading, by James Stamford Caldwell, 1843
This is a wonderfully eccentric book written by my great x3 grandmother’s brother. He inherited the Linley Wood estate and the family library from his father in 1838. He practiced as a barrister in his young days but then it seems he retired early and spent much of the later part of his life reading all his wonderful books. In ‘Results of Reading’ he strings together lots of quotations from the books that he agreed with, intending thus, to give us (the reader) the benefit of his time spent. He never married and after he died in 1858 the estate was passed on down to my great grandfather FC Heath who then became FC Heath-Caldwell. This book is completely unreadable and worth reading only for that very reason.
Adventure in New Zealand, by E Jerningham Wakefield, 1845
Interesting account of a settler in the early days of New Zealand when the English were arriving and doing everything they could to buy land off the Maori for a little as possible.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, 1847
A excellent story about a girl called Jane who has an unusual set of ups and downs in her life. She falls in love with Mr Rochester, the master of Thornfield Hall, but she then runs into a few unforeseen difficulties. It’s a lovely story.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, 1847
Another wonderful story, this time about Heathcliff who always wants to marry Cathy but things just never work out for them. I also enjoyed the Kate Bush song in 1977 and I still have the record.
Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848
Story about two girls coming of age in the early 1800s against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Becky Sharp lives on her witts and is often happy to do anything underhand, if she thinks she will get away with it. Amelia Sedley is a very genuine person who becomes a widow and runs into lots of problems because her father-in-law fails to support her. Well worth reading.
Leaves from my Journal, by Robert Grosvenor, 1852
I bought this volume from the bookdealer Adrian Greenwood in 2004 as this particular copy was given by the author Robert Grosvenor to my great x3 grandmother Anne Marsh Caldwell in the year of publication. It was the first family book that I sourced via the internet (the first of many). Adrian Greenwood, as well as being a bookdealer, was also an author and I met him in 2016 but sadly he was murdered in a robbery a few months later.
Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens, 1857
I found this story very difficult to follow. There were lots of eccentric characters and everyone seemed to be forever losing money or coming into it quite by accident. I have not read any other novels by Dickens but I did see David Copperfield on TV and I was very pleased that he came through all his difficulties ok.
Life of Josiah Wedgwood, by Eliza Meteyard, 1865
There have been lots of books written about the great pottery entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795). James Caldwell started working for him around 1770 and they got on exceptionally well. Josiah provided James with excellent mentoring and helped him to progress on and gain his own success. It should be noted that Josiah Wedgwood was a businessman who realised it was best to be nice to people and get everyone working together as an effective team, as in the long run, you will always achieve a lot more. Most books about Josiah Wedgwood are well worth reading.
War And Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, 1869
This is another book that is a little bit like The Bible, in that everyone had heard of it but very few people have read it. It is a brilliant piece of historical fiction about a number of families living in Russia during the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s. The story is very long but it is an excellent read and it contains lots of bits of philosophy about life (as lots of books often do).
Lorna Doon, by RD Blackmore, 1869
An historical romance set in Exmoor, Devon in the later half of the 1600s. It is all about John Ridd and Lorna Doon. Both lovely young people and I am sure you can guess what happens. I enjoyed reading it.
Photograph Album of Anne Marsh Caldwell, 1870
This is a massive volume in which Anne Marsh Caldwell has collected together lots of small portrait photographs of her friends and relatives. For any historian it is fascinating to read her diaries and letters and then see all the faces in her Photograph Album. The family library contains approx 10 other albums and some loose photographs from various other relatives. Again I am not listing them all here but I hope this one gives a flavour.
Energy, by DD Heath, 1874
‘An Elementary Exposition of the Doctrine of Energy’ is a physics book written by my great great grandfather’s brother Douglas Denon Heath (1811-1897). I have a copy but have never read it as it is now very much out of date but it certainly confirms that Douglas Denon Heath must have been quite a bright guy in his time.
The Bible in Latin 1879
Interesting small volume which has in inscription in the front saying that my great grandfather Maj Gen FC Heath-Caldwell, picked it up on the battlefield of Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt in 1882. Apparently, he found it lying on the ground just after the battle. Presumably dropped there accidentally by one of the other soldiers.
Old New Zealand, by Frederick Edward Maning, 1887
A tale of the good old times by a Pakeha Maori. This is an excellent account of one Irishman’s early experiences living with the Maori people in the 1830s. FC Manning was apparently one of those guys who was very much a larger than life character, but on top of that, he was also very tall in real life, being 6ft 3inches in height. Well worth reading.
Arabia Deserta, by CM Doughty, 1888
I read the slimmed down version which is ‘Passages from Arabia Deserta selected by Edward Garnet’, 1931. Fascinating account of Doughty’s travels in Arabia in the 1870s. I read it while I was living in Thumrait, on the southern edge of the Rub al Khali desert in Oman.
Plain Tales from the Hills, by Rudyard Kipling, 1888
This book is a collection of sketches covering many aspects of the lives of the British Raj in India during Victorian times. Back in those days it was a fascinating time to be participating in Empire.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy 1891
A sad novel about a young lady called Tess who really deserved a better life. Most of the novel takes place in Dorset and the final end is in Winchester. I have found all the novels that I have read by Thomas Hardy to be well worth reading.
John Russell RA, by George Williamson, 1893
Biography of the Georgian portrait painter John Russell (1745-1806) who painted an excellent portrait of my great x4 grandmother Amelia Marsh (1765-1793).
Letters from the Black Sea, by Adm Sir Leopold George Heath, 1897
A collection of family letters during the Crimean War, written by my great great grandfather and published as a book in 1897. I found this to be an excellent read but of course my main interest was because it was written by my illustrious ancestor.
The Way Of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler, 1903
When I picked this book up by chance one day, I saw the title and thought it might have some good sex in it, but I found nothing of the sort. However, it is a brilliant novel which is a semi-autobiographical account of the author growing up in Victorian England with a tyrant of a father. Separately Samuel lived a few years in early New Zealand and wrote a novel called ‘Erewhon’ which I have also read but I could not make heads or tails of that one.
Stories by DH Lawrence 1910 to 1930
I have read Sons and Lovers and some of this other novels but I found them difficult to follow. I must read them again one day and see if I can get more out of them.
Records of the Heath Family, by George Heath, 1913
We had a copy of this book at home when I was growing up in New Zealand. It was fascinating to read about all these people who shared the name Heath, especially Adm Sir LG Heath who was my great great grandfather and who’s sword hung on our living room wall. This book, and a later book, also included notes on my grandfather Capt CH Heath-Caldwell and his father Maj Gen FC Heath-Caldwell.
Stories by F Scott Fitzgerald 1920s
The Great Gatsby is a brilliant novel and the line I always remember is “Rich girls don't marry poor boys” said by Jay Gatsby the mysterious millionaire who gives great parties at this Long Island mansion. He always hoped somehow to win the heart of Daisy but life just doesn’t work out that way. Fitzgerald’s first novel ‘This Side of Paradise’, 1920, is also a brilliant book all about Amory Blaine, a university student who is setting out in life and trying to figure it all out. I found all the novels by F Scott Fitzgerald to be fantastic. Life in all his stories is very jumbled up. In real life, his wife Zelda suffered from schizophrenia and she wrote a book ‘Save Me The Waltz’, 1932. Both Zelda and F Scott where trying to get somewhere but sadly in their real lives, wherever it was, they never made it and both died relatively young.
A Passage to India, by EM Foster, 1924
This is EM Foster’s book that I enjoyed the most. It is a book of fiction written about India, much of it as seen through the eyes of an Indian, Dr Aziz. In particular, it presents an Indian view of the British Raj in the early 1920s. All EM Foster’s books are great but this one is exceptional.
The Castle, by Franz Kafka, 1926
All about a guy called ‘K’ who wants to take up residency in a village which is controlled by some bureaucrats who live in the castle. It does not matter what ‘K’ does, he just can’t seem to get the necessary permissions. This novel really did do my head in. I did not enjoy it and I have always steered clear of any books written by Kafka.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by TE Lawrence, 1926
The autobiography of Thomas Edward Lawrence about his time in Arabia in WW1 supporting the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks from 1916 to 1918. We might never have known about TE Lawrence except that an American writer by the name of Lowell Thomas published his own account ‘With Lawrence in Arabia’, 1924. This sold incredibly well and generated a lot of public interest, so much so, that when TE Lawrence published his autobiography lots of people bought it. Today we would say that his story went “viral”.
Lots of stories written by Evelyn Waugh 1930s to 1950s
I have read lots of books by Evelyn Waugh and I enjoyed all of them. They were all generally very witty and entertaining. Some of the ones that I read include; ‘Decline and Fall’, 1928, ‘Vile Bodies’, 1930, ‘Black Mischief’, 1932, ‘A Hand Full of Dust’, 1934, ‘Put out More Flags’, 1942, ‘Brides Head Revisited’ 1945. He also wrote a short biography of ‘Edmund Campion’, 1935, who was a Jesuit Priest in Elizabethan England. And he wrote ‘Remote People’, 1931, which was a travel book about Haile Selassie’s Abyssinia. I remember meeting an elderly relative who had met Evelyn Waugh in Africa in the 1930s and she is mentioned in ‘Remote People’ (Genesta Long). Genesta said Evelyn was an amazingly witty person.
Burmese Days, by George Orwell, 1934
Orwell’s first novel based on his early life in Burma. As I have said before, life often does not work out as you want it and of course in 1948 Burma became independent and all the British left. I have also read his novels ‘Coming Up for Air’, 1939, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, 1949 and ‘Animal Farm’, 1945. Not my top author but well worth reading as Orwell and his books are a key part of English literary history.
The World Crisis 1911-1918, by Winston Churchill, 1931
Winston Churchill was a fantastic writer and it is not surprising that he went on to become Prime Minister during WWII. This book is very long but it is an excellent read. ‘Marlborough: His Life and Times’, 1938, was also magnificent and also very long.
Alarms and Excursions in Arabia, by Bertram Thomas, 1931
Bertram Thomas spent 7 years living in Oman (1925-1932) and this is a book that he wrote at the time, recording his travels in the country and his perceptions of the native people.
Tigris Gunboats, by Vice Admiral Wilfrid Nunn, 1932
Covers the Mesopotamian campaign in WWI from 1914 to 1917. My copy is a signed copy from Wilfred Nunn to my grandfather Cuthbert Heath-Caldwell, both of whom took part in the campaign. Looking back, they were probably very lucky, in that they both survived in one piece.
Claudius the God, by Robert Graves, 1935
An historical novel about the life of Claudius. Emperor of Rome AD41-54. I can’t remember much about the story except that I very much enjoyed this book. There was also a television series.
The Southern Gates of Arabia, by Freda Stark, 1936
All about Freya Stark’s travels in Southern Arabia in 1935. She lived to be 100 years old must have been quite a lady.
Early Days in Central Otago, by Robert Gilkison, 1936
In my days in the Territorial Army we went on numerous exercises out in the hills of Central Otago. One very noticeable part of the landscape were the remains of all the aqueducts that had snaked around the sides of the hills, carrying water, in the gold rush days of the mid 1800s. This book covers much of this period when a small number of people made a lot of money but lots of gold prospectors made very little money at all.
Daily Life in Ancient Rome, by Jerome Carcopino, 1939
Reading this book is a window into an age lived 2,000 years ago. Tourists get to see all sorts of places and often they have very little understanding of what they are seeing. If they are going to travel all around the world they really should take the time to read a few books first. If you are ever intending to visit Rome, please read this book before you go.
Strangers and Brothers series, by CP Snow, 1940s to 1970s
This is a fascinating set of books about men working together, some with a science education and some with a humanities education. CP Snow felt that the country is often lead by the humanities type people with good presentation skills but a lack of understanding of how things work. He felt we need to get a better balance among our leaders. I am sure he was right. He probably would have liked Margaret Thatcher but I don’t think he would have had much time for David Cameron. CP Snow is not very well known today which is a pity. I think all his novels are excellent.
Pelican History Of England, 1950-1965
This is a series of 9 books, written by different authors but then linked together to give an excellent overview of British history. The individual volumes were as follows:
‘Roman Britain’, 1955’, by Ian Richmond
‘The Beginnings of English Society’, 1952, by Dorothy Whitelock
‘English Society in the Early Middle Ages’, 1951, by Doris Mary Stenton
‘England in the Late Middle Ages’, 1952, by A.R. Myers
‘Tudor England’, 1950, by Stanley Bindoff
‘J.P. Kenyon's Stuart England’, 1978.
‘England in the Eighteenth Century’, 1950, by J.H. Plumb
‘England in the Nineteenth Century’, 1950, by David Thomson
‘England in the Twentieth Century’, 1965, by David Thomson
I can’t remember which volume I read first but it was excellent and so I then bought the rest of the set and read all of them. This gave me an exceedingly good overview of history and so whenever I have read anything since, I have been aware of how different events fitted into the overall timeline.
In the Wake of da Gama, by Genesta Hamilton, 1951
An excellent history book about the early Portuguese explorers and their activities on the east coast of Africa in the 1600s. Genesta was my grandfather’s cousin and I met her in 1981. She was by then 82 years old and was mildly eccentric. She wrote a record of her amazing life ‘Stone’s Throw’, 1986, much of which was spent in Africa. She also wrote ‘Fragments from Africa’, 1937 and ‘Princes of Zinj’, 1957. I enjoyed them all, but they might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham Smith, 1953
A very detailed history book about the disastrous ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, during the Crimean War, 1854. It follows the chain of command and all the conflicting perceptions of the various key people who were involved. An excellent book.
Sir John Moore, by Carola Oman, 1953
A biography of Lt Gen Sir John Moore who was hit by a cannon ball and killed, during the retreat to Corunna in 1809. This was part of the Napoleonic wars in Spain. Sir John Moore was my great x4 grandmother’s cousin. Particularly good account of this part of the Napoleonic wars, which of course in the end Napoleon lost (Waterloo 1815).
Russell’s Best, by Bertrand Russell, 1958
Bertrand Russell was a guy who really did have an amazing brain. He published stuff from 1896 to 1975, covering a diverse range of topics from the principles of mathematics to the abc of atoms to marriage and morals. Also lots of books on politics and various philosophical topics. I have read a number of his books but Russell’s Best gives a selection of all his works and in many cases the bits with a bit of humour.
Desert Sands by Wilfred Thesiger, 1959
Wilfred Thesiger was a very interesting person. He was Oxford educated and fought in WW2 in the SAS in North Africa. In the late 1940s he spent some time in the Rub al Khali desert in Oman (the Empty Quarter) and he subsequently wrote ‘Desert Sands’ about his experiences exploring this area. In 1982 I spent a year at Thumrait which is on the southern edge of the Rub al Khali. With some friends we did a 3 day journey up into Rub al Khali and saw the huge sand dunes. Excellent trip and excellent book.
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, 1961
This novel is probably partly autobiographical in that Joseph Heller’s main character Yossarian is a bombardier flying missions over Italy in World War II, which was what Hellier had done 20 years earlier. The book is full of characters most of whom are nuts. What do you do if you think everyone is nuts and you think you are the only person who is sane? I remember reading an article that Hellier wrote much later in life, in which he said, if you are the Managing Director of a company, you are not fully in charge. If you are the President of America you are not fully in charge. Even your mother is not fully in charge. No one is really in charge. That is why moving through life is never straight forward. Excellent book.
In The Sticks, by RL Bacon, 1963
This fictional story is absolutely brilliant but hardly anyone knows of it. The narrator is sent to a rather backward part of rural New Zealand to run a small school. The story is all about the way-out people who live there. No doubt RL Bacon, whoever he was, had all these experiences in real life.
The Fatal Impact, by Alan Moorehead, 1966
A history book about the fatal impact of the western invasion of the South Pacific, and in particular New Zealand, in the period 1769-1840. The western civilization with greater resources and better technology gradually took control of this area of the world with devastating consequences for the existing inhabitants (The Maori and the Islanders). A very good overview of the sequence of events and the final result. Sadly, this is history.
Joseph Wright of Derby, by Benedict Nicolson, 1968
Biography of the the famous painter Joseph Wright (1734-1797) including a list of all his known works. This book was of interest to me as he painted portraits of James and Elizabeth Caldwell and Elizabeth’s sister Hannah Stamford.
Bruce McLaren - the Man and His Racing Team, by Eoin S Young, 1971
Bruce McLaren was brought up in Auckland and from an early age took up an interest in go-carts and racing cars. He travelled to the UK and became a world famous racing car driver and founded McLaren Racing which became one of the world’s top racing car companies. Sadly he was killed in a crash in 1970. He was only 32. I am surprised that the New Zealand Post Office did not make a postage stamp for him (they did in Austria).
The Siege Of Krishnapur, by JG Farrell, 1973
Excellent piece of historical fiction covering the trials and trepidations of the British who were swept up in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. As this was written in 1973 it is very easy to read.
Muscat & Oman, by Ian Skeet, 1974
This is one of many books that I have read about Oman. This particular book records life in the country before Sultan Qaboos bin Said took over in 1970. I lived there from 1983 to 1985.
Old Taranaki And Its Mountain, by Campbell McAllister, 1976
As I was brought up in Taranaki from 1961 to 1971. My library would not be complete without a few books on Taranaki. Excellent book and it has lots of pictures.
The Civilization of Ancient Egypt, by Paul Johnson, 1978
This is one of a large number of books that I have read about the history of Egypt and this particular book I read while I was working in Alexandria in 1981. I found all these books fascinating as the history of Egypt is so old.
Cuthbert Heath, by Antony Brown, 1980
Cuthbert Heath, maker of the modern Lloyd’s of London, was my great grandfather’s brother. He was not able to join the army or the navy as he was deaf. Instead he went into business in the insurance industry and made a very large fortune. This is an excellent biography but it is also a very good book about business and innovation.
BSAC Divers Manual, 1980?
I can’t remember the exact title of this book and sadly I no longer have my copy. Whatever it was called it was an excellent book and I learned all about skin diving when I lived in Oman 1982-1984.
El Alamein Desert Victory, by John Strawson, 1981
I visited El Alamein in 1981 while I was working in Alexandria. By 1942 the Germans had overstretched their resources and the battle of El Alamein was the turning point. Among the 7,240 graves in the cemetery at El Alamein, there are lots of New Zealanders. All together 2,989 New Zealanders did not come back from the North African campaign. I remember the old soldiers who I had met in my younger days and they had all told me that the war was very tough but they were very pleased that they went. As I came across some of the graves of the fallen New Zealand soldiers at El Alamein, I suddenly realised, these were all young men who did not come back to say they had been pleased to have gone.
Introduction to Radar Systems, by Merrill Skolnik, 1981
Everything you have ever wanted to know about radar if you ever wanted to. I spent 5 years working as a radar engineer and this technical book was very useful to me but I would not recommend reading it (unless you are working on radar).
The Oxford History of New Zealand, edited by WH Oliver and BR Williams, 1981
Great to have the whole history of NZ summarised and put into one volume. A very good read.
Electronic Equipment, by Tony Rudkin, 1981
This book gives a good overview of a wide range of electronic test instruments. I remember meeting Tony Rudkin at an exhibition. He said he often feared that people bought his book but did not get around to reading it. He was very pleased when I told him I had read it cover to cover and found it to be excellent. However, I would not recommend reading this book now, as sadly it is very much out of date.
Guide to Purchase & DIY Restoration of the MGB, by Lindsay Porter, 1981
This book was my very own personal Bible when I had my MGB sports cars from 1980 to 1994. It was very enjoyable working out how these fantastic cars worked.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, by Sue Townsend, 1982
Excellent book with its own unique style. Adrian Mole is wonderful at observing his impressions of what is going on around him. It is a great diary even if it is all pure fiction. This was a best seller in the 1980s.
Oman & Its Renaissance, by Sir Donald Hawley, 1984 revised edition
This very large book is one of my prized possessions, as it was given to me by my friends and work colleges when I left Oman towards the end of 1984. We had a great party and everyone signed their names in the front. It is a lovely memento of my 2 years spent in the Sultanate.
With Friends Possessed: Edward Fitzgerald, by Robert Martin, 1985
A biography all about the unusual life of Edward Fitzgerald, the author who translated and rewrote the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Competent Crew, by Pat Langley-Price and Philip Ouvry, 1984
An introduction to the practice and theory of sailing. I read this book when I was learning all about how to sail a boat.
The Sailor’s War 1914-1918 by Peter Liddle, 1985
Peter Liddle spent much of the 1970s and early 1980s travelling around and interviewing the small number of remaining ex-servicemen who had fought in WWI. This book contains 19 chapters, one of which covers the experience of my grandfather Cuthbert Heath-Caldwell and his experiences in the Mesopotamian Campaign.
On Fiji Islands, by Ronald Wright, 1986
I read this book because I spent 3 weeks in Fiji with the NZ army in 1978. The country has two main cultures; the native Fijians and the Indians. Understandably this has caused tensions over the years as the native Fijians feel it is their country and the Indians, most of whom are 4th or more generation, understandably feel that it is also their country. Luckily they all seem to still get on relatively well.
Himalaya: Trekking from Sikkim to Pakistan, by Ann Metcalfe & Doug Wilson, 1988
I met Doug when I was doing my Army basic training at Burnham Military Camp and the following year we met up at Mt Ruapeau where I also met his girlfriend Ann. Both lovely people who a few years later did this incredible trip along the Himalaya mountain range. Sadly Doug died relatively young from cancer.
The Stratford Inheritance, by Ian Church, 1990
If you have a connection with Stratford in Taranaki and you would like to know more about the history of the town, this is the book for you.
The Honourable East India Company, by John Keay, 1991
All about the fantastic history of the traders who slowly took over the Indian subcontinent just because they wanted to make lots of money.
The Radar Army, by Reg Batt, 1991
All about the very successful project to develop radar during WWII. My grandfather Richard Jones worked on radar during the war and this gave a good background to the whole radar project.
The Heath Engravers, by John Heath, 1993
Biography of James Heath the engraver and a list of his works. James Heath was my great x4 grandfather. The author, John Heath, was a fantastic guy. He was a graduate of Oxford University and on D-Day 1944, in WWII, he had landed on the Normandy beaches with the army. He later had a very successful career as a diplomat being Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Chile. He was a distant cousin and I got to know him very well as we were both interested in old books.
Endure No Makeshifts, by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Leach, 1993
A biography of Henry’s life in the navy. I list it here because Henry lived in our village and he signed my copy for me. He was a real gentleman and gave much support to events in the in the local area. His story is an excellent read, much of which is about the Falklands War. I was working in Portsmouth in 1982 and I have memories of all the navy boats setting sail one by one, bound for the Falklands. Sadly some of them did not return.
The Insatiable Earl, by NAM Rodger
Biography of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich who was first Lord of the Admiralty. My interest was because my great x5 grandfather George Marsh worked for him. This is an excellent book that covers a lot of the Earl’s official responsibilities but also talks about the great craze of the time; gambling. NAM Rodger also published The Command of the Ocean : a Naval History of Britain which is also very well worth reading.
Finding Home, by Dominc Sheehan, 1996
A fictional story very much based on Dominc’s childhood growing up in Stratford and going to Avon School. I enjoyed reading it. I went to Avon School and a very good friend of mine was Joe Sheehan who is Dominc’s elder brother.
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson, 1996
If I was going to recommend one book to read for anyone thinking of visiting England, this would be it. The story is all about Bill Bryson’s experiences coming to this island in the late 1970s. It is fantastic and I found there were lots of parallels with my own experiences coming to the country a few years later. I did have the pleasure of hearing Bill Bryson give a talk at Winchester Cathedral in 2016 and the place was completely full. The other books I have read by him include: ‘The Mother Tongue’, 1990, ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’, 2003, ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’, 2006, ‘At Home: A Short History of Private Life’ 2010, ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’, 2015. All excellent. Top marks!
Telecommunications Networks: 2nd Edition, Edited by J Flood, 1997
For all electronics engineers involved in the telecommunications industry this is a good book with a lot of detail explaining how everything works (telephones, mobile phones, base stations and networks).
Elizabeth Gaskell The Early Years, by John Chapple, 1997
John Chapple was interested in Victorian women writers including Anne Marsh Caldwell. He gave me a signed copy of this book and I greatly enjoyed reading it.
Getaway, by Gordon Thomson Woodroofe, 1998
The only NZ airman to escape from a Nazi prison camp and make his way back to England in WWII. Only a paperback copy but this is an excellent story of one man’s incredible battle against the odds. This book, containing an inscription from Woodroofe, was given to me by a very good friend who’s father was also a POW escapee.
The Cash Nexus, by Niall Ferguson, 2001
A very detailed economics book, some of which I found hard to follow but I was very glad I read it. One of the things covered is how governments (run by politicians) keep printing more money every year. This is really a tax on the people who own the money which is not usually the rich people but is actually all the normal people. Shocking. We are all being ripped off.
White Mughals, by William Dalrymple, 2002
I have read numerous books on the history of India and William Dalrymple is certainly one of the best writers. I have also read ‘The Last Mughal’, 2006 and ‘Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan’, 2012.
The Adventure of English, by Melvyn Bragg, 2003
I wish I had come across this excellent book much earlier in my life, as it really does explain why the English language is as chaotic as it is. Melvyn also wrote ‘The Book of Books’, 2011, which I have also read. He gave an excellent talk at the Winchester Guildhall in about 2011, all about the Bible and the English Language.
Never A Footstep Back, by Bruce & Don Hamilton, 2003
A history of my old school Whanganui Collegiate 1854-2003. This is a massive book and initially I only intended to read the first chapter about the very early days of the school, but I found it all so fascinating that I read the whole thing. It also covered the period that I was there 1975-1976 and it was interesting to see that the teachers had lots of disagreements between each other. At the time, my perception was that they were very much a united force. Also quite a revelation to see that two of the teachers must have been very odd as they later got into big trouble with the law for interfering with young children. In the same year of publication there was a second book which was a register of all the students and a brief overview of that happened to them and this was also fascinating.
The Smartest Guys in the Room, by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, 2003
Excellent book about the amazing rise and scandalous fall of the American company Enron. We all assume that highly paid business leaders are amazingly intelligent people who know what they are doing. This book documents a case study where you realise that the only thing smart about these guys was that they managed to take everyone for a ride while they paid themselves astronomically high salaries. Most of them pretty well got a way with it but everyone else lost everything.
HIH The Inside Story, by Mark Westfield, 2003
Another case study of a business run by a group of people who were not as smart as they made out. Again a huge number of people lost a lot of their life savings. This story is a reminder that some business leaders might have good presentation skills but be very lacking in integrity.
The Hive, by Bee Wilson, 2004
This is just a fairly straight forward book about the history of our civilization, but it is all told from the aspect of honey. Starting from Biblical times and then step by step being brought right up to date. I really enjoyed reading it, so I am noting it here in my list.
White Gold, by Giles Milton, 2004
The Story of the Sultan of Morocco, Mulay Ismail (1645-1727), and his slaves including the Englishman Thomas Pellow. Fascinating account of life as a slave in Morocco. When you read a book like this one, you start to realise how lucky we are to live in the modern world.
The Barefoot Emperor, An Ethiopian Tragedy, by Philip Marsden, 2007
A history book all about the British Expedition to Abyssinia in Ethiopia in 1868 to rescue the British agent Mr Rassam from the Emperor Tewodros II. My interest was that one of my ancestors was involved in the navy side of the operation.
Tars: The Men Who Made Britain Rule The Waves, by Tim Clayton, 2007
I had the pleasure to meet Tim Clayton as he had referenced some of my archives in this book. He is a really nice guy. I have also read his ‘Waterloo: Four Days that Changed Europe’s Destiny’, 2014 and ‘Sea Wolves The Extraordinary Story of Britain’s WWII Submarines’, 2015. He also gave an excellent presentation at the Gosport Submarine Museum shortly after Sea Wolves was published. All his books are extremely well written and very entertaining.
The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh, by Linda Colley, 2007
Linda Colley spend two days with us while she went through the Marsh papers doing research for her biography of Elizabeth Marsh. She was a lovely lady and we travelled up to Greenwich when she held her initial presentation for her book launch. The book is excellent and I have also read ‘Captives: Britain, Empire and the World’, 2002 and ‘Britons: Forging the Nation’ 1992.
No Ordinary Man: Arthur Porritt, by Graeme Woodfield & Joseph Romanos, 2008
A biography of the remarkable life of Sir Arthur Porritt who was born in Whanganui, went to Whanganui Collegiate School and the University of Otago and then travelled to the UK. He had an amazing life and ended up being Governor-General of New Zealand (1967-1972). I would not say I was following in his footsteps but our paths certainly crossed on more than one occasion.
The Artist’s Daughter: Ellen Churchyard, by Sally Kibble, 2009
The Churchyard family were friends of my ancestor Dr Richard Jones in Woodbridge, in the mid 1800s. Sally and her husband came and visited to take photographs of some of Ellen’s drawings in my family archive. Later she sent me a signed copy which I greatly enjoyed reading.
Our Men in Brazil, by Ian Sargen, 2009
All about the Hesketh brothers in Portugal and Brazil in the first half of the 1800s. Ian and his wife Hilary came and visited to explore some of my relics relating to our Hesketh Ancestors. The book is excellent and he intended to write another but sadly his health failed.
Dragon Rampant, by Donald E Graves, 2010
The Welsh Fusiliers at War, 1793-1815. An excellent book about the British Army in the Napoleonic Wars. Donald Graves has used some references from Charles Crowe’s journal. See below.
An Eloquent Soldier, edited by Gareth Glover, 2011
This is the Peninsular War Journals of Lieutenant Charles Crowe, 1812–14. He was a cousin of my great x3 grandmother but he had no children, and as a result, his diary was passed down in the Heath-Caldwell family but had never been published. The diary itself is well written because he rewrote the whole thing, sometime after he had returned from Spain. My brother Michael typed out the text and Gareth Glover then edited and added more information about the people and places that Charles had mentioned. An excellent read. Do go out and buy this book.
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, 2011
Biography of Steve Jobs the entrepreneur who created the company Apple (computers and phones). Seems a very candid biography of his life noting what he got right and what he got wrong. Well worth reading. I have also seen the film which was also very good.
Batavia, by Peter Fitzsimons, 2011
Betrayal, shipwreck, murder, sexual slavery, courage but most of all an excellent fictional account of what really did happen when the Dutch ship Batavia hit a reef on the Houtman’s Abrolhos islands off the west coast of Australia in 1629. Lots of stories have been written about this particularly harrowing event, when a small group of opportunists took over and terrorised the remaining survivors. Although lots of people get murdered, this book should be read by everyone, just to remind us all of what some bad people can be capable of.
London and the Georgian Navy, by Philip MacDougall, 2013
All about the administrators back in London who played their part making the Royal Navy supreme and making Britain great. This history book references some of the information from the diary of my ancestor George Marsh, Commissioner of the Navy.
A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps, by Chris West, 2013
A wonderful book featuring 36 British postage stamps against which Chris has written a general history of the UK between the years 1840 and 2012. This gave me the idea to put a few postage stamps into my book.
John Napier, by Julian Havil, 2014
Life, Logarithms and Legacy a biography of John Napier. My interest was that John Napier was one of my ancestors. Interesting book about how he invented logarithms partly to help him with his religious studies.
How To Run The Country, by Ian Rock & others, 2015
I have known Ian for quite a few years and we often talk on the phone about politics and economics. This book is brilliant and although the title is a bit tongue and cheek, the contents of the book is serious economics. I think it should be compulsory reading for all politicians and journalists.
Thomas Telford: Master Builder of Roads & Canals, by Anthony Burton, 2015
Thomas Telford pops up in James Caldwell’s diaries when they are building the Harecastle Tunnel. This is a great biography about one of our great engineers.
Conquerors, by Roger Crowley, 2015
How Portugal Seized the Indian Ocean and Forged the First Global Empire. We all think that the British colonised the world from the 1700s onwards but about 100 years earlier, in the early 1600s, it was the Spanish and the Portuguese who were very active in this activity. Their method was very much kill and steal which was horrific but that was how things were back then. Very informative book.
Crystal Clear, edited by AM Galzier & Patience Thomson, 2015
Recommended to me by Margaret Lady Heath who was the daughter of William Laurence Bragg. Excellent book if you are interested in Physics but the book also gives a good overview of life in the early to mid 1900s. Also references to the New Zealand born Physicist, Lord Rutherford.
Man of Iron by Jock Vennell, 2015
The extraordinary New Zealand story of WW1 hero William Malone who had lived in Taranaki. William’s portrait is in the Stratford Hall of Remembrance and the gates are dedicated to him. A statue of him was unveiled near the bridge on Broadway, 2011. I have just bought this book and I am looking forward to reading it. Many thanks to Janet King for bringing this to my attention.
Ancient Worlds: An Epic History of East & West, by Michael Scott, 2016
We all know a bit about the Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians but what about the other civilisations. This book gives a good overview of all the ancient civilizations extending into Asia. Michael Scott came to Winchester in 2017 and gave an excellent talk in the Great Hall. This book is also excellent.
Through Spain With Wellington, by Adrian Greenwood, 2016
I had the pleasure to listen to one of Adrian’s talks at the Greenjacket’s Museum here in Winchester in early 2016. As I mentioned, I had also come across him a few years earlier when I bought a book from him (Leaves from My Journal, 1852). He was a good author but sadly about a month after meeting him he was murdered during a burglary of his home.
Squadron: Ending The African Slave Trade, by John Broich, 2017
I have not met John Broich but he referenced some of my family archive and sent me a signed copy. Mentioned in the book is my great great grandfather Adm Sir Leopold George Heath who was one of the key men who finally brought slavery to an end. The book is excellent, especially as it covers a lot of history that people just are not aware of.
The Country House Library, by Mark Purcell, 2017
My interest in this book is because I have the remains of my ancestor’s country house library. I have found old libraries to be fascinating and this is the only book written about the subject, that I know of. I did meet Mark Purcell at a conference here in Winchester and he was kind enough to sign my copy for me.
Charles II: Art & Power, by The Royal Collection Trust, 2017
I have listed this book, not just because it is an excellent book, but also because it was a special Christmas gift to me from my son Daniel and his lovely girlfriend Verity.
We Were A Band Of Brothers: The Memoir of Captain Philip George Heath MC, 2017
The diary of my grandfather’s cousin Philip Heath and his experience in the army in WWI. Excellent first hand account of experiences fighting in WWI.
Harecastle’s Canal & Railway Tunnels, by Allan Baker & Mike Fell, 2019
The Harecastle Tunnel is located on the Trent and Mersey Canal in Staffordshire. It is an exceptionally long tunnel at 2.4km and was built by Thomas Telford in the 1820s. At the time, James Caldwell was chairman of the company and this project is mentioned extensively in his diaries. Very interesting book especially if you are interested in canals and tunnels.