English Catholic Publishers: An Unexpected Contrast

This little gem from Wilfrid Sheed’s Frankie and Maisie: A Memoir with Parents (1985) is worth sharing, at least for those who might remember these publishing houses, now absorbed into the publishing giant Continuum, and essentially defunct, though not definitively dead. The author is looking back to the 1940s:

Sheed and Ward was one of merely two Catholic [publishing] houses in England, and with its American branch, it was much more dashing than its rival, the semi-official Burns & Oates, which included hair shirts and knotted ropes for self-flagellation in its catalogs (sic)—a far cry from the jokes that filled ours.

Now I am left with a strong hankering to see the catalogues of both these firms from the 1940s. An online search, admittedly a fairly cursory one, yielded nothing useful for Sheed and Ward. The house had its own journal, Sheed and Ward’s Own Trumpet, which may be what Wilfrid is referring to. The price as marked on the cover was “Priceless”. Again, I can find nothing much except library references for it online, and mention of it in a journal article.

Does anybody have anything along these lines? Do let me know if you do, please.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Continuum to ask what archival holdings they have for Sheed and Ward. No answer yet, alas.

 

Clericalism and culture

The perceptive among the regulars here will have noted that I have a mild mania at the moment for a long-time favourite Catholic writer and theologian, Frank Sheed. Recently circumstances have only afforded occasional dips into the charming yet vigorous memoir of Frank and his wife, Maisie Ward, by their author-son, Wilfrid Sheed. Taking a stroll in the 20+ËšC sunshine, said memoir in hand, Wilfrid had arrived at the narration of the family’s move, early in World War II, to the United States to found an American outpost of the family publishing concern, Sheed & Ward, but which was to become home for them all. Wilfrid begins this section by explaining the difference between the Catholic Church in England and in the States in the 1940s. It bears extensive, though necessarily selective, quotation here: Continue reading “Clericalism and culture”

Filial piety

So many matters are worthy of attention at present—Cardinal Sarah’s latest treatment of the Church’s liturgy, for example, or Martin Mosebach’s searching critique of the modern liturgy recently renewed; Dubiagate; the infamous demotion of the papal nuncio to Ireland.

But when one is in a strop (probably only Poms and Aussies will get the meaning of that word in this context) it is best to leave weighty matters aside lest one’s true feelings be too forcefully expressed.

So instead, let me recommend a book. It is not in print but easily obtainable at a reasonable price secondhand. I have not yet finished it but already I think it one of the best biographies I have read. Continue reading “Filial piety”