Thursday, 12 April 2012

New edition from Five Leaves, Beneath the Blue Sky

Dominic Reeve is one of the few authors we publish that I've not met. We have long phone conversations and he bashes out letters on his old fashioned typewriter, the keys clearly having seen better days. He's a self-confessed cantankerous old man, still living as he has for decades, selling compost from door to door. His Smoke in the Lanes was a classic of the old days of the horse-drawn "waggon years" and was an enormous commercial success when it came out, and is now available in a trade edition from the University of Hertfordshire Press and a mass market edition from Abacus, taking advantage of the current popular interest in Gypsies. Not that Dominic is thrilled by that, raging (correctly) about some of the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding coverage. After Smoke, Dominic wrote two or three fairly derivative books which sold less, before returning to Travelling life with his partner, the successful Romani artist Beshlie. After a forty years break he returned to publishing with Beneath the Blue Sky with Five Leaves. This covered the 1960s and onwards, the less "romantic" decades when Romanis moved from four legs to four wheels, yet tried to remain self-employed, tried to retain a Travelling lifestyle and tried to hang on to their culture in the wake of their traditional trades and stopping places vanishing.

Trucks are of less interest than the old bow topped waggons, and the book was therefore less commercial but nevertheless we sold 1,000 or so. After a gap we've tidied up the book, inserted some better photographs, included some drawings by Beshlie and it is again available. There will be a mass market edition from Abacus sometime, without the illustrations and photographs, in a supermarket near you, but meantime you can buy our edition at


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