Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Coralie Bickford Smith

This woman not only has the coolest and poshest name ever to have been conceived, but she also designs incredibly beautiful books. My favourites are her hard backed editions of Penguin classics. A set of 10 appeared at the end of 2008...

...and last Christmas, more beauties arrived in Waterstones (as these editions are exclusive to the store):

I have a few from each series (I was not allowing myself to buy books that I already had more than one edition of, so no Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility) and picked up the edition of William Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint last week. I do have the sonnets in a collected works of Shakespeare and my Norton anthology but I seemed to conveniently forget that when faced with such a lovely crimson and peach coloured confection.

The sonnet I know best is still number 130:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks; 
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare. 

This sonnet played a pivotal role in the episode of My So Called Life when Jordan discovered that he did love Angela. The English teacher Mr Katimski reads out the entire sonnet and, with the help of boffin Brian, helps to tease out it's meaning for a passive class. I have said it already, but that was such a great programme. What other teen drama would leave you with a Shakespeare sonnet memorised and explained?


  1. Beautiful aren't they? I actually gasped when I saw the display in the shop!