The Children’s Book by A S Byatt

I am back in my Spanish studio and have begun reading this book; The Children’s Book by A S Byatt. This latest novel from Byatt promises to be staggeringly detailed and in particular within the world of ceramics. It is full of the most wonderful descriptions of pots from Pallisy to William De Morgan. The story begins in the dry store rooms of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). A small boy is discovered living in the store; he has run away from Burslem and his life in the Potteries. He try’s to communicate his desire to “make something”. This is misunderstood as wanting to make something of life. He repeats,

“I want to make something….”. his minds eye saw an unformed mass of liquescent mud. He looked around, like a baited bear, and saw the flaming de Morgan lustre bowel on the mantleshelf. He opened his mouth to comment on the glaze and decided against it.

The acknowledgements mention Edmund De Wall who invited Byatt to visit his studio and let her feel the clay on the wheel “(he) allowed me to put my hands into a wavering pot” Byatt says.
Mary Wondrausch is also credited “whose book on slipware – apart from being full of interest – was also full of technical information and delectable vocabulary”.

I thoroughly recommend it to all who are interested in pots, potters and stories.