As a child I loved books, especially old books. I loved the feel and the smell of old paper and I have always found great joy in opening a book and feeling the print on the paper. All books have a particular smell and to this day I still do my “book check”, which is to feel the paper and smell between the leaves. My mother was a teacher and we had plenty of books at home, so it wasn’t difficult to start a collection on my little bookshelf in my bedroom. When I was 10, I saved up all my pocket money to buy my first hardback book, Birds in colour by Bruce Campbell at the great cost of 25 shillings. I still remember the excitement of going to the old-fashioned book shop in Bath and spending every penny I had saved. To this day that book is still used and it is just as precious to me now as it was then. There was only one problem with my book collection and that was my poor ability to read until the age of  7, but what no one realised, was the fact I was dyslexic, and it wasn’t until I discovered a new way to read that I was able to unlock the secret key to an enquiring brain. With my trusted little torch, I was now able to read all my Mallory Towers Books under the bedclothes with no one telling me to put the light out!

My next breakthrough was finding a book in the school library about a family of 5 girls and their brother who lived in a Yorkshire Parsonage with their father, aunt and a maid. I found the story fascinating and couldn’t stop reading about this extraordinary family. Of course, this was the story of the Bronte’s and it was another breakthrough moment in my life. I can still remember where I was sitting when I found that book and feeling the heartbreak of reading their story when learning about the death of the two older sisters. A few years later I visited the parsonage at Haworth and as a consequence I read everything about the Bronte’s from all their books to their biographies.

Therefore, many years later when my book shelves were utterly full of antiquarian books to modern day classics, it was entirely in keeping for me to design a piece of china around authors and my beloved book collection. I wanted to design something different and original, so I started making a design using my favourite classic authors and encouraged by my sister, the writer Barbara Claypole White, I was able to think of how the design would work around one of our English bone china mugs.  However, as the design developed I realised it would be mean more to me to build the design around my love of those three Bronte sisters and what they achieved as women. So, in essence the Bookworm mug design evolved as something to reflect the writing of Classic British authors through the centuries.  I soon realised there was a problem because there was simply not enough room for all the authors. The design started on paper, but friends kept making suggestions of more classic female authors, until eventually I had to finish the design on the computer as I ran out of space for all the extra authors. Why had no one told me about women like Aphra Behn before now? Was I simply not listening in class or was it more because women didn’t have the recognition they deserved? Were these things not thought of as important when I was growing up?

The book worm design made me realise I had only scratched the surface with my reading. I think the gift of education and reading through the use of books is the most valuable gift we give our children. To have knowledge and understanding makes us what we are and helps us appreciate other people’s lives from a different perspective. I’m told a book will become a thing of the past, but as someone who loves to embrace technology I believe there is still a place for a book shelf and there will always be a room for that treasure, a beautiful book. My book shelves are now full but there is nothing like giving a present of a book! I did send some of my slightly more dubious paperbacks to the charity shop, but my best and most loved books are my most prized possessions and greatly loved. I still refer to my best and most loved books from that first bird book to my most valued copy of Testament of Youth.

I hope you enjoy books as much as I do and if you have a book worm mug or tea pot, I hope you might your favourite classic author somewhere in this book worm design. So thank you to my friends and family who inspired this design and thank you all for giving me many more books to read and enjoy.

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