Tuesday, 2 March 2010


During our half term break we visited Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland. Have you been??? It's the most amazing bookshop - it is one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain and is located in an old Victorian railway station.

I love Barter Books - there are huge armchairs for you to immerse yourself in an array of titles and authors - I particularly like the childrens' books and that is where I found this glorious book - Nobody Loves Me by Racey Helps.

The illustrations particularly drew me to this book and I decided to buy it to remind me of my trip.

The first page ......

When I returned home I became more and more intrigued by the book and I tried to find out a little bit more about the author. After quite a bit of digging I came across a website dedicated to Racey Helps which is run by his family.

Angus Clifford Racey Helps was born in Bristol in 1913 of English-Scots descent, and spent his childhood in the hamlet of Chelvey, Somerset. He was privately educated at a vicarage and later at Bristol Cathedral School. Leaving school he entered the antiquarian book business and attended the West of England College of Art.

Racey Helps married on 8th April 1936 and his daughter was born in July 1937. He used to tell his young daughter a made up story every night at bed time. His first success as an author-artist came during World War II with stories written for her. When the war came, the little girl was packed off to a less noisy part of the country, but she still insisted on her story, and so Racey Helps wrote them down for her and drew pictures to illustrate them, and sent them to her. During this time Racey and his wife lived in Shepton Mallet in Somerset and were hosts to many young American soldiers based in the town. Racey and his wife ran a hairdressing salon in Shepton Mallet, and on one occasion a publisher happend to drop in and picked up one of these handwritten and illustrated booklets and was enthralled by its content. Having established who was the author of this item, Racey was invited to London to discuss publication of future work with William Collins & Son, with whom he first became associated and subsequently, The Medici Society.

Racey’s son was born in 1949 and, for a while, the family lived in Clevedon, Somerset and then moved to Saltford near Bath. In 1962 the family moved to Barnstaple in Devon, and the surrounding countryside was an absolute delight to Racey with its plethora of flora and fauna, and many a happy time was spent on Exmoor collecting potential ideas for his pictures.

Unfortunately, at the age of 57 Racey suddenly suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away at his Barnstaple home.

I contacted the Racey family via the website and Racey's daughter, Anne responded very quickly. She said that the book I had bought was rare and a collector's item! What a find!!!!


craftaddict said...

Hi there! I live just down the road from Barter Books, it's fab isn't it? Glad you found something so exciting! Helen

My Life Under the Bus said...

I am so jealous - it sounds like a dream ! A few weeks ago I got to visit a tiny old bookshop in a nearby town . I didn't even know it was there.We have so few now mostly large Borders and Barnes and Noble ...so sad the old place sounds dreamy to me ! Love the old book - reminds me of a few old Raggedy Ann books I have. Enjoy it !!!

Cate said...

Oooh, i love Barter Books, it's worth the trip to Alwick by itself!

Good Find!

Cate, x