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Like a Mantle the Sea [Shetland Island Manuscript & Archive]

Stella Shepherd - Dennis Shepherd - John Betjeman
Autograph manuscript, typescript, corrected proofs and supportive letters from Sir John Betjeman to the author of this memoir of Papa Stour who m… Read more
Published in 1971 by G Bell & Sons.
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Like a Mantle the Sea [Shetland Island Manuscript & Archive] by Stella Shepherd - Dennis Shepherd - John Betjeman

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Autograph manuscript, typescript, corrected proofs and supportive letters from Sir John Betjeman to the author of this memoir of Papa Stour who met her during a visit to the island and helped see the book through to publication. Stella Shepherd and her husband Dennis who illustrated her book moved to Papa Stour in the Shetlands in 1962, to become, respectively, the island’s schoolteacher and a lay Missionary, leaving ‘eight years later, when there were no longer any children of school age left for her to teach.’ The finished memoir which depicts life on a small, depopulating Shetland isle in the 1960s takes the reader through an island year. Stella Shepherd, nee Jardine (1919-2017) originally lived in Yorkshire where she had worked as a teacher after graduating from Hull Municipal Training College. Like a Mantle the Sea was first published in 1971 and reissued in 1999 for the island's seven hundredth anniversary. Betjeman described it in one of his letters to Shepherd as 'likely a classic of Papa Stour'. The collection comprises:

AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT: Written in pencil on around 250 detached pages taken from (Papa Stour) school exercise books, a mixture of first draft and a corrected version with light emendations throughout, broadly conforming with the final printed version. Each chapter gathered with paper clips; a number of loose leaves. There are numerous minor changes as well as structural alterations such as a merging of the original first two chapters, resulting in the final chapter numbers varying from the drafts.

TYPESCRIPT: Carbon copy typed draft of Chapters 1 to 18, together with hand-written “Concluding paragraphs” (and typed copies of these paragraphs) which were added at the end of Chapter 18 together with typed Foreword and Contents and terminal Glossary; each chapter stapled. Additionally carbon copies of all or parts of Chapters 2,3,7,10 and 16, some with lightly pencilled annotations and crossings out - occasionally denser.

PROOF COPY: Proof bound in green card wrappers, marked with a dozen or so minor hand-written corrections in green ink (mostly not taken across into the final published work)

LIKE A MANTLE, THE SEA - Stella Shepherd with illustrations by Dennis Hunter Shepherd; 1971, G Bell and Sons., London, pp184 pages, light blue cloth boards with red lettering on spine, original dust-wrapper. A couple of pieces of minor ephemera laid in.

ADDITIONALLY: A small archive of materials relating to the genesis, writing, production and reception of Shepherd’s work, notably 3 letters from Sir John Betjeman together with two inscribed copies of his books:

Betjeman writes on headed paper (43 Cloth Fair, London) after having briefly visited the island of Papa Stour in 1969:

28 August, 1969 (in original envelope) TLS commenting on a piece of writing Shepherd had sent him, ‘I particularly enjoyed the line “A forest of small moss cups with bejewelled spider strands”... In its way one can think of Papa Stour as a whole country of its own… and what is small like a moss cup seems as big as a water lily.’ He urges her to write more about the island.

17 June, 1970 TLS thanking Shepherd for the gift of Papa Stour flowers ‘We put them in water and the room became fragrant, and I felt myself back on your Island’. Betjeman presents a signed copy of his ‘First and Last Loves’ which is present in the collection, inscribed: ‘To the Shepherds of Papa Stour…’ together with one other inscribed volume to the Shepherds.

27 August, 1971, two page autograph letter describing his ‘greatest pleasure’ on reading Stella Shepherd’s Like A Mantle The Sea, observing ‘I should think the book will be a classic of Papa Stour.’ Betjeman continues in garrulous fashion, recalling his own Scottish forebears. Together with a signed printed card thanking Stella Shepherd for writing on the occasion of his appointment as Poet Laureate in 1972.

Together with some 20 book reviews clipped from newspapers and journals, including a copy of ‘The New Shetlander’ Summer number 1971; a proposed cover photograph for the re-issue of the book in 1999 to coincide with commemoration of Shetland’s oldest surviving document, from 1299, which speaks of dramatic events on Papa Stour; letter of congratulation from Mabel Rankin (author of review appearing in Hull Municipal Training College magazine and former mentor of the author), 23 November 1971. Two items relating to VAT and copyright in connexion with the book. A request for specimen house mice and field mice from the island, from the University of Edinburgh.


Full details

Added under Manuscript
Publisher G Bell & Sons
Date published 1971
Subject 1 Manuscript
First edition Yes
Signed Yes
Product code 7811


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