Grotesque Animals (1872)

Grotesque Animals: Invented, Drawn, and Described by E.W. Cooke (1872), co-creator with James Bateman of eccentric gardens at Biddulph Grange in North Staffordshire. The book followed Lear’s Book of Nonsense by a few years, but the drawings were begun in 1864, a few years after Biddulph Grange was completed and Bateman had sold up and moved away. The book has 24 plates, not well reproduced here in this partial 14-plate reconstruction, as subtle shades and tones are lost. Each monster is explained briefly on a following page, but only one of these text pages can be found.

Plate V – too small to include in the partial reconstruction…

The Trial of Mary Broom

Another Potteries novel, found. The Trial of Mary Broom, 1894. If it is set partly in Burslem, then it may have some interesting descriptive scenes of the town.

“The Trial of Mary Broom, by Mrs. Harry Coghill [b. Brewood, 1836, lived Staffordshire c. 1884-1891], is a story of good plot, interest, and quick exciting movement. It is founded, it would seem, upon historical events, in which the principal actors were the brother Elers, Dutch potters, who left their own country during the reign of their great countryman, William III., and settled at Bradwell, near Burslem. Their proficiency in their trade excited the jealously of their English neighbours; and a real or imaginary conspiracy against them provides Mrs. Coghill with a motif, which she has skilfully and pleasantly utilised. The Trial of Mary Broom is a capital tale.” — Academy and Literature review.

Fairly short at 160 pages, it was her sixth novel and was apparently part of the ‘Homespun’ series for women. She also published a Moorlands short story, “The vicar of Moor Edge” in Leisure Hour, 1895. This probably gives a taste of what The Trial of Mary Broom would be like if it could be obtained.