Newsletter Winter 2020

Anon TitleGraphic AlignC-01

Oxfam Books Adelaide Quarterly News / Winter 2020


I have lived a thousand lives and loved a thousand loves. I’ve walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time. Because I read.

George R R Martin




   Welcome to our winter issue of ‘Anon…’

We are very pleased to say the shop is now open again, initially on reduced days and hours (Tues 8am to 4pm, Thurs 10am to 4pm, and Sat 10am to 1pm). Furthermore, we can now happily announce we’ll be back to opening five days a week, Tuesdays to Saturdays from August 4th; 10am to 4pm each day.

It has been lovely to be able to welcome back our regular customers and introduce first time customers to the shop. There are restrictions to how many customers are allowed in at any one time and we thank you for your patience and co-operation with social distancing protocols during these challenging times. We are adhering to a strict cleaning regime including not processing donations for 72 hours for both you and our volunteer’s health and safety. 


Even with these constraints in place, we were delighted to break our record for a single day’s worth of sales (excl. Sale days) in the first week back and see the strong sales since – especially gratifying as the volunteer group has been conscious of all those weeks we were unable to continue our fundraising for Oxfam Australia projects.        

We have also been grateful for the positive feedback on our previous issue of Anon… (Autumn 2020) and an accompanying surge in subscriber numbers. We hope you will equally enjoy this Winter issue, and welcome your feedback and suggestions. This Winter issue looks at the Book of Kells and medieval manuscript marginalia, the life cycle of an Oxfam book, sports books not about sport, a pen names quiz, and news of the Bookshop’s Crime Fiction Fortnight and October $1 Sale. You can also view this newsletter and previous issues (only one so far!) on our website.

Finally, a shout-out to our Oxfam Bookshop brothers and sisters from around the world who have been in touch. A special hello to the Oxfam Bookshop Canterbury and Oxfam Books Headingley, both in the UK. 

E.B. Editor

UK Bookshops

{If you have been sent this newsletter by a friend, please take a moment to go to our Website, Facebook and Instagram pages and learn more about us.  We’d love for you to  sign up for the newsletter and follow us on Facebook and of course visit the Bookshop to browse our broad collection of affordably priced second hand books.}

What’s in a name?

In our first quarterly newsletter we invited literary suggestions for its permanent naming. Instead, we received enthusiastic support for retaining the place-holding moniker – Anon…. 

Hedging our anonymous bets, we had judged ‘Anon’ to possess suitable literary pedigree as a term in frequent use by Shakespeare and as an abbreviation of a term closely associated with writing and authorship. It seemed it made perfect sense to some of our readers – What a great title! I took it to be the abbreviation of Anonymous, the famously most prolific author of fragments of prose, poetry, short stories, aphorisms, a few whole novels, and even music compositions, along the centuries. Perfect, don’t change it, please.   How could we refuse? 💗

Once upon a time, a long time ago…

pasted image 0

A Medieval Manuscript

It’s been 20 years since a portion of The Book of Kells was displayed in Canberra – only the 4th time the book had ever been shown abroad.


The Book of Kells is one of the most famous medieval illuminated manuscripts, most likely created in part at the monastery on the Scottish island of Iona and then brought to Kells in Ireland to keep it safe from Viking raiders.


The book depicts the 4 gospels of the Christian New Testament and was probably used for ceremonial rather than everyday use.

The title page of St John’s Gospel

The text is often secondary to the illustrations – it is at times carelessly written with a number of errors – the focus is definitely the intricate and amazing artwork (often framed by equally amazing Celtic Knotwork).

A cat in The Gospel of St Matthew  Fol. 76v 

Now kept at Trinity College, Dublin, the manuscript is no longer loaned or allowed to be handled (though Queen Victoria and Prince Albert signed it as you would a visitors book when they visited in 1849!) but it can be viewed online for free.

TrinityCollegeLibrary Dublin
Trinity College Library, Dublin.

For more information and to see the digitised collection try these links:

Many people mistakenly think Trinity College Library in Dublin featured in a few Harry Potter film scenes but the Hogwart’s library scenes were actually filmed largely in Oxford University’s Duke Humphrey’s Library which is one of the special collections reading rooms at the world famous Bodleian Library.

Hermoine and Harry in the Hogwarts Library from ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’ 2009.

Medieval Manuscript Postscript:

For such a labour-intensive and time-consuming task, it is strange to learn the Book of Kells scribes made regular mistakes in the text. Perhaps more surprising, given we are aware of the rarity of books in pre-printing press eras (and an associated reverence), are the seemingly random notes and whimsical illustrations or doodles made by scribes in the margins of religious and academic manuscripts – a practice which has since come to be known as ‘marginalia’. Was it they felt secure in the knowledge these personal additions could remain private in times when very few could read and write, or even had access to these precious books. But now, these personal expressions provide historians with an intriguing cultural insight into the everyday thoughts and lives of medieval scribes, and the readers that also added their own notes.

StGall Grammar

From St Gallen (Switzerland) Abbey Library, a ninth-century copy of Institutiones grammaticae (a Latin grammar book from the sixth century by Priscian) transcribed by Irish monks, provides some surprising ‘asides’.

‘This page has not been written very slowly’  p.195. 

‘massive hangover’  p. 204. 

‘New parchment, bad ink, O I say nothing more’ p. 214

And a copy of a nature poem in the margin of page 203-4.

pasted image 0 (1)

Dom-ḟarcai fidbaide fál

fom-chain loíd luin, lúad nād cél;

hūas mo lebrán, ind línech,

fom-chain trírech inna n-én.


Fomm-chain coí men, medair mass,

hi mbrot glass de dingnaib doss.

Debrath! nom-Choimmdiu-coíma:

caín-scríbaimm fo roída ross.

Pent under high tree canopy,

A blackbird, listen, sings for me,

Above my little book’s ruled quires

I hear the wild birds jubilant.


From a shrub covert, shadow-mantled

A cuckoo’s clear sing-song delights me.

O at the last, the Lord protect me!

How well I write beneath the wood.

(translation from the Old Irish by Seamus Heaneys and Timothy O’Neill)

For a further online article documenting the weird and wonderful world of ancient marginalia, including the macabre:

And modern marginalia by readers:

Information for this article was sourced from:  where further examples of medieval marginalia can be found.

For more research and background to the St. Gall copy of Priscian’s Grammar visit the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute blog:

Life Cycle of an Oxfam Book

Lifecycle of oxfambookshopWIthTextUpdated MED
Illustration by E.Browne

A common question we’re asked by customers is what happens to all the books? And so in this new occasional series we’ll be guiding you through the ‘Life Cycle of an Oxfam Book’.

Our first step is ‘Donations’ – the foundation upon which the Bookshop is built for community fundraising. Donated books flow in from far and wide, old and new, giving the Bookshop it’s wonderful breadth of subject matter, for it is this (along with affordable pricing) which makes browsing in a good second hand bookshop so rewarding. Sometimes, we’re asked whether we will buy books and our answer is a friendly but automatic ‘No’.

Most people bring their donations to the shop but if you can’t do that you can request a donation pick up. A number of dedicated volunteers will pick up donations (generally large donations from a deceased estate or a major downsizing exercise) and bring them to the shop.

LifeCycle Collection 202007
One of our collection volunteers delivers a donation of books to the Bookshop’s Back Room.

We accept most books, CDs and DVDs in all genres and in reasonable condition. Unfortunately we cannot take encyclopedias, records and cassette tapes (remember them?) Donations are accepted during shop opening hours and there are a number of 1hr free street parks and an unloading space in front of the Bookshop. If you require assistance, please phone the Bookshop during opening hours to inquire about collection: (08) 8122  5870. 

Next time in ‘Life Cycle of an Oxfam Book’ – How we sort donated books.


Books about sport that aren’t about sport.

Some years ago I had a dinner party discussion about the ‘Best books about sport that were not about sport’. I argued for ‘The Damned Utd’ by David Peace while a fellow guest was adamant ‘The Book of Fame’ by Lloyd Jones was superior. At the end of the discussion we agreed to read the other’s choice.


While ‘The Damned Utd is essentially a  psychological study of an ambitious, needy, flawed genius – the 44 days Brian Clough was the manager of Leeds United FC (ably played by Michael Sheen in the movie), “The Book of Fame’ has a different theme and tone. It tells the story of the 1905 European tour of the New Zealand rugby team, one where they left as a collection of miners, bootmakers and farmers and returned to a near god like status – the legend that became the All Blacks. Against this backdrop it is an investigation into the workings of fame and the impact it has on the individual and a team.

Sadly I never saw my dinner party book person again – I hope he read ‘The Damned Utd’ and we could have agreed that they are both worthy of being in the category of ‘ The Best books about sport that are not about sport’.

Let us know what books you think should be in the category of the ‘Best books about sport that aren’t about sport’.

What’s in a Name? (Version 2)

Can you match the pen name / nom de plume with the author’s  real name?

Pen name          Real Name?

George Eliot   –    Francois-Marie Arouet

George Orwell   –   Samuel Clemens 

Mark Twain  –   Richard Bachman 

Lewis Carroll  –   Clive Hamilton

Stephen King  –  Eric Blair

Maya Angelou  –  Mary Ann Evans 

CS Lewis  –   Elizabeth Mackintosh

Voltaire  –  Charles Dodgson

Josephine Tey  –  Marguerite Annie  Johnson


And for extra points…. Put pen names to portraits


We’ve solved the mystery of the disappearing

Crime Fiction Fortnight!


As many will know, the Bookshop has a considerable collection of mystery, crime and thriller fiction, which is why we started our ‘Crime Fiction Fortnight’, held annually in July. Past culprits under interrogation have included Scandi Noir, Tartan Noir, Aussie Noir, International, Historical, Classic, and Women Writers. 

However, while our focus was distracted by reopening after our Covid-19 closure, July (and CFF along with it) seemed to have flown the coop from right under our noses. We’re pleased to now report there’s been a recent breakthrough in this case of the disappearing Crime Fiction Fortnight with reliable sources informing us CFF will instead be located hiding out in the first two weeks of October. This year there’ll be simultaneous investigations into Australian ‘Bush Noir’, Classic Crime, and a selection of international crime authors rarely seen in the Bookshop. We are committed to exposing their fiction!


Find our crime scenes during Crime Fiction Fortnight in several special displays around the Bookshop and at home in Aisle 2. Our prices are almost criminally low! 

October $1 Super Sidewalk Sale

Please note: We are currently looking at options for our usual October $1 Super Sidewalk Book Sale. IF it goes ahead, it may not look and operate as it has done in the past due to the many unknowns around where we will be in response to Covid-19 and associated advice and social distancing protocols. We will keep our customers informed of our plans via our Facebook and Instagram pages and website.

Pen Name Answers:


How did you go with our literary Guess Who?

Francois-Marie Arouet adopted the name Voltaire in 1718, following his incarceration at the Bastille. Other sources suggest it was a strained relationship with his father (who discouraged his literary aspirations) which prompted him to drop his family name for his nom-de-plume ‘Voltaire’ upon completing his first play in 1718. While its origin is unclear, Voltaire is an anagram of AROVET LI, the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of le jeune (“the young”).

Source:  and


We hoped you enjoyed our newsletter and thank you for your ongoing support of the Oxfam Second Hand Bookshop! 

Stay well. 

Basic RGB

The Oxfam Second Hand Bookshop is 100% volunteer run, with all profits dedicated to supporting the work of Oxfam Australia fighting worldwide poverty, hunger and social injustice.

Every book bought makes a difference!

5-7 Hutt Street / Adelaide 5000 

Current hours: Tues 8 – 4, Thurs 10 – 4, Sat 10 – 1

From August 4th: Tuesdays to Saturdays 10am – 4pm

Tel: (08) 8122 5870 during opening hours

OxfamBookshop LogoLocMap 2019-01


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s