Sunday, January 18, 2009

A review of my upcoming book

Many thanks to Frances Grimble for reviewing my upcoming book!

The intriguingly titled Elephant's Breath and London Smoke: Historical Colour Names, Definitions & Uses is focused specifically on colors for textiles. This is indicated by the quotes selected, and implicit in the book's introduction.

It is a straightforward work. The editor, Deb Salisbury, has expended an astonishing amount of industry in combing public domain sources for references to color names. And there they are, 231 pages of quotes, alphabetized by color name, with the sources for the quotes at the end of each. Varying color definitions from contemporary fashion magazines, quotes from Victorian books on Renaissance fashions, mentions of colors with no definition: It's all there. There is no color in the book--no swatches--but in fact, there is no way anyone can reliably match an old color description to a color on a Pantone fan. The author provides 42 pages of longer quotes on colors, things such as Victorian discussions of which colors best suit various complexions and hair colors. She does not attempt to summarize trends in color fashions or in color naming (a different issue from color use, and closely related to textile and fashion marketing), nor does she provide a history of dyeing technology. This is clearly intended to be a dictionary, not an analytical work. Sixteen pages of bibliography are provided so that the reader can compare them to the sources listed in the quotes, judge for himself or herself whether the source is reliable, and seek further information.

In summary, this book could considerably shorten the search for definitions of color names by providing quotes from numerous sources--fashion magazines and fiction as well as dictionaries and encyclopedias--and of different dates.
---Frances Grimble
Lavolta Press

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to purchasing a copy and am pleased to see this extremely useful and needed work was written by someone in Texas!