Towards the end of last month I decided to give myself a bit of a kick in the pants about continuing with A Fierce Reaping – I’ve left it so long for one reason and another that the voices in my head are sulking – and chose to do it by getting myself some inspirational works. With one exception they are one penny plus postage books from Amazon market place. Jarman’s translation of Y Gododdin [the OMG exception], books on the Dark Ages in the Uk and in Europe, both illustrated by the late great Angus MacBride plus two scholarly works on King Arthur’s life and times [as close as I'm going to get to AD 590 for a penny].
At least I assumed they were scholarly and I’m still prepared to give The Age of Arthur by John Morris the benefit of the doubt, but the other one … oh dearie me.
The Holy Kingdom by Adrian Gilbert is published by Bantam books – a subsidiary of Transworld publishers so not a hole in the corner outfit. I was leafing through the photos in the middle and found a painted illustration asserted to be of the burial of King Arthur. You know that feeling you get when someone tries to tell you you’re looking at a unicorn but you can see jolly well it’s a donkey with a cardboard horn gaffer taped to its head? Well it’s worse when you’re looking at a painting you know very well, by an artist you admire and the photo is not only wrongly labelled but is completely uncredited.
This is the picture, though in the book it is cropped to the left and has no attribution. It was painted by Ron Embleton – beloved to people of my generation for his illustrations in Look and Learn, the end titles for Captain Scarlet, and his raunchy cartoon strip Wicked Wanda. The painting was published in 1991 in a publication from the National Museum of Wales and shows an upper Paleolithic interment on the Gower coastline, wrongly described as the Red Lady of Paviland [it's a bloke]. At approximately 33,000 years old it is the oldest ritual burial to be found in Western Europe. The body was covered with a thick coating of red ochre, possibly as a deterrent to scavengers.
In the illustration list at the front of the book it claims that all unattributed illustrations belong to the author. Piracy isn’t a new thing! Also there are a whole bunch of would be Arthurian scholars now who probably think that Arthur fought the Saxons dressed in a parka and mukluks.
Okay ranty hat off now.
I’ve been interviewed by Cathy Brockman here and am giving away a copy of Alike As Two Bees to a commenter, because it is Bees birthday today. It is one! *blows tiny party squeaker* Also am very pleased, and relieved, to have had a super review from Josie on Mrs Condit’s blog. That really made my Saturday.