Back Through the Rooke-ing Glass No. 36

Through the Rooke-ing Glass No. 36

After another lovely and full week at Rooke HQ, including many occult works, the first folio collection of the writings of Voltaire, a first edition of Frances Hodgson-Burnett's 'The Secret Garden' and a beautiful two volume Bayntun-bound 'The Life of Samuel Johnson', here we present our highlights of the week - the things we think could easily be overlooked for some of our most eye-catching or well-known works!

Compendium Maleficarum

This is the first translation in English of an early seventeenth century Latin guide to witch-hunting. Printed in 1929 over three hundred years following the original's first publication, it was edited by Montague Summers, an occultist who wrote numerous works on vampires and werewolves as well as witchcraft. This work was written by Francesco Maria Guazzo, and covers the pacts made by witches with the Devil, Guazzo's classifications of demons, which was based on Michael Psellus' prior work, and descriptions of the poisons and powers of witches. This is a scarce edition of the 'Compendium Maleficarum', limited to 1,275 copies, richly illustrated throughout the text.


This is a ridiculous collection of illustrations and verses by Rex and Laurence Whistler which can be read both front to back and left to right. One of the most mourned losses of the Second World War, Rex Whistler served as a Second Lieutenant and was killed by a mortar bomb; it was reported that The Times received more letters after his death than for any other victim of the war. This work was published in 1946 after Rex's death, and included his excellent and humorous reversible portraits, accompanied by verses by Laurence Whistler, his brother. 

The Life of John Mytton

A fine, early edition of this biographical account of a British eccentric. Known by the nickname 'Mad Jack', John Mytton was born into a family of Shropshire squires. His youth was already rather fast-paced and exciting; he inherited his family seat at two years old upon his father's death, and following multiple expulsions from prestigious schools, tormented his private tutors with practical jokes which included placing a horse in one tutor's bedroom. Despite this, he was offered a place at Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he did not graduate, although rumour says that he took some two thousand bottles of port with him when he moved to Cambridge to keep his studies sustainable. He owned around two thousand pet dogs, his favourites of which were fed with steak and champagne, and once set his shirt on fire in an attempt to cure the hiccups. Tragically, this remarkable man ended up perishing in prison at the age of 37, where he was imprisoned as a result of never paying off his extortionate debts. Our beautiful copy of this work is a fourth edition, which is illustrated with hand coloured plates.

A Thousand Shops Books Jubilee Year Report

Unusually, this work relates to the history of iconic British pharmacy Boots. It is a vanishingly scarce photobook which commemorates the opening of the thousandth Boots branch, presented in a signed Zaehnsdorf binding. Founded in 1849 by John Boot in Nottingham, the retailer now has over two and a half thousand shops across the United Kingdom, as well as countless overseas; this is largely thanks to John Boot's son Jesse, who was ten when his father died and inherited his business, which he diversified and brought to a far larger custom base. Illustrated with thirty-five pages of photographs, this is a wonderful reminder of the history of the British high street and one man's remarkable legacy which still saves lives today.

Finally, our header this week is taken from a smart French political and cutural periodical, 'Annuaire des Deux Mondes'.