The Shell Guide to South-West Wales (2)

In the interests of historical accuracy, I feel I should say that when I got back home, I checked the first edition of the Shell Guide, published in 1963, and realised that, as with other Shell Guides, the earlier edition is shorter and livelier, printed on much better quality paper, and with jazzier graphics, presumably reflecting a time when John Betjeman was still joint general editor and taking an interest in the quality of book design.   There is a good description of what Betjeman was aiming at in a letter he wrote in 1963 to Lady Juliet Smith, who was writing Northamptonshire, about the difference between a Shell Guide and Pevsner:  ‘It is no good trying to write a comprehensive impersonal catalogue.  That is already being done in Pevsner’s Buildings of England, and does not tell you what a place is really like, i.e. whether it is strung with poles and wires, overshadowed by factories or ruined army huts, whether it is suburban or a real village, nor whether it is a place of weekend hide-outs and carriage-lamp folk with wrought-iron front gates by the local smith’.


2 thoughts on “The Shell Guide to South-West Wales (2)

  1. “What a place is like” is precisely what your Blog captures, and is why it is a wonderful companion to the objectivity and reserve of Pevsner, as is EAST LONDON, thanks to the design of Pentagram and Harry Pearce.

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