Tom Parker Bowles picked for mini library project championed by his mum | Books

Tom Parker Bowles picked for mini library project championed by his mum | Books

All parents are proud of their children’s achievements, and the queen is clearly no exception.

Tom Parker Bowles is among 21 writers chosen to provide a snapshot of contemporary literature as part of the 100th anniversary of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, in an initiative championed by his mother.

The food writer joins Alan Bennett, poet laureate Simon Armitage and PEN Pinter prize winner Malorie Blackman in a modern-day miniature library of 4.5cm-high manuscripts.

A tiny copy of A Recipe Fit for a Queen will sit alongside works by the likes of Lucy Caldwell, Bernardine Evaristo, Sebastian Faulks, Elif Shafak, Tom Stoppard and Jacqueline Wilson.

Parker Bowles, the son of Queen Camilla and her former husband Andrew Parker Bowles, said: “I cannot tell you what an honour it was to be asked to contribute a miniature book to Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Although my recipe ‘Fit for a Queen’ will struggle to match the skill, art and beauty of Andreas Maroulis and the Royal Bindery.”

Camilla said the new books “highlight the incredible richness of 21st century literary talent” and demonstrate “how fortunate we are to have access to so many outstanding writers, whose work brings joy, comfort, laughter, companionship and hope to us all, opening our eyes to others’ experiences and reminding us that we are not alone”.

The dolls’ house, which was built between 1921 and 1924 as a gift from the nation to Queen Mary after the first world war, is the largest and most famous in the world, and has always been on display at Windsor Castle.

The perfect 1:12 scale replica of an Edwardian-style residence – complete with electricity, working lifts and running water – is filled with contributions from more than 1,500 of the finest artists, craftspeople, and manufacturers of the day.

One of its greatest treasures is its library, which captured the literary culture of the 1920s through miniature books handwritten by the era’s foremost writers, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Vita Sackville-West to AA Milne and Thomas Hardy. The centenary initiative, championed by the queen, will establish a library of modern works to sit alongside the original manuscripts.

The works range from short stories, poetry collections and illustrated tales to plays, articles and recipes – many written specially for the occasion. There are also works from Joseph Coelho, Imtiaz Dharker, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Philippa Gregory, Robert Hardman, Anthony Horowitz, Charlie Mackesy, Sir Ben Okri, Sarah Waters and AN Wilson.

Each manuscript has been hand-bound with a unique cover by a leading designer-bookbinder. Camilla has also contributed her own miniature book, a handwritten introduction to the project, which features a gold-tooled 7mm tall version of her cypher – the same size as Queen Mary’s cypher on the original books in the 1920s.

To mark the centenary, other items within the dolls’ house will also be on special display in Windsor Castle’s Waterloo Chamber, including a fully strung miniature grand piano and crown jewels inset with real diamonds.

Stella Panayotova, royal librarian and assistant keeper of the royal archives, said: “These tiny books are big in imagination and talent, in feelings and insights. Exquisite books rekindle the joy of careful reading, close looking, quiet thinking.”

The writers also expressed their delight at being included in the collection. Caldwell called it “the most magical of commissions”.

Evaristo, whose poem The African Origins of the United Kingdom invites readers to reconsider Britain’s history and origins, said she loved the idea of “contributing towards such a historic and iconic project while also maintaining my iconoclastic spirit”. Horowitz said his manuscript A Tiny Ghost Story “must be the shortest, smallest ghost story in the world”.

Faulks, who wrote Music For a Dolls’ House, 1924–2024, said the size made it a real but fun challenge. “I’m not a poet and there was no room for prose, so I wrote a kind of syllabic verse. My handwriting has not been under such pressure since infant school. I can only apologise for my illustrations,” he said.

Donaldson said she and Scheffler “felt it would be iconic” to have a tiny version of The Gruffalo, especially since it seemed a good way of celebrating the book’s 25th anniversary. “It was quite tricky working out the new pagination and making my handwriting as small as could be, but Axel had a greater labour of love creating all those extra pictures,” she said.

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