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Beautiful Books

The publisher of A Clockwork Apple, Beautiful Books, has gone into administration. It's such a shame. Simon Petherick, the MD, who set it up from his home in Clapham about four years ago before moving to a small west-end office had the passion for reads that were away from the mainstream. I'm not at all too disheartened. I'm just glad that I was one of the early authors; I know I'd have felt great sadness had I signed up only months ago. So, the copyright reverts to me, which I shall be free to capitalise on should my future books be successful enough to secure a readership. It is a shame that independent publishers struggle so much; they seem to be forever on the knife-edge. Waterstones plays a large part in that it can returns a whole load of unsold books in what is often an insufficient timeframe. What's to be done? I read a headline today about how amazon is breaking down the old arrangements by enabling authors to 'publish' digital 'books' direct to the reader. I didn't click on the link. I feel a bit of apathy towards getting the next publishing deal if truth be known. I have a publisher looking at Mary Burns, a publisher I respect and admire, but I'm a realist, even though I tell myself, frequently, that no-one knows anything: not about what will sell or what will work, what will take off or crash. No one.

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Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

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