Ewer bookplate

An interesting item turned up recently, while I was cataloguing an item from the Pre-1800 Printed Books collection in Sir George Grey Special Collections. The book in question, 'A general history of the stage …' collected and digested by W.R. Chetwood was printed in London in 1749 and purchased by the library in 1975. The library probably bought it to complement the fine collection of Elizabethan and Restoration drama already acquired through donations from Sir George Grey and Fred Shaw. The author had been a prompter at Drury Lane, so had a wealth of insider knowledge.

Just as interesting is the rather odd bookplate of some former owners pasted inside the front cover of the book.
Ref: Bookplate, Printed 1749 CHET, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The bookplate belonged to Monica Ewer and Norman Ewer and is by the English artist Frederick Carter (1883-1967). Carter was an etcher and engraver who worked closely with people such as Austin Osman Spare, the artist and occultist, and later D.H. Lawrence. He had a deep interest in the supernatural and power of symbols.
The book would have been of interest to Monica, who was the drama and film critic of the Daily Herald, a left-wing leaning newspaper published in London in the early 20th century. She was also well known in her day as a writer of over 50 light romantic novels.

Her husband, Norman was also a journalist for the Daily Herald, writing on foreign affairs. He got an interview with Trotsky while on assignment to cover the Russian Revolution, and became a member of the Communist Party. He soon was spying for the Russians, but whilst MI5 knew about his activities, he managed to avoid being prosecuted. After the Second World War he became disillusioned with the Soviet Union and communism and turned to the Labour Party.

Monica and Norman separated in 1926 and she moved to South Africa. Monica died in 1964. Norman retired from the Daily Herald also in 1964 and died in 1976.

Author: Ian Snowdon, Sir George Grey Special Collections


  1. Part of this is rubbish. These are my paternal grandparents. They did not separate - or if they did it was only temporary. They were certainly together during WW2 when I was a child in England living in their house, and from then till Monica's death in 1964. I saw them regularly! (My parents lived in South Africa from 1946 till 1963.)

  2. PS: We have lots of books with this bookplate in them. The book mentioned by Ian Snowdon would have BELONGED to Monica.

  3. Thank you for your comments. Our intention was not to offend and we value your addition of information to this blog post.

  4. I have had several books with this bookplate, all drama related, pass through my hands recently as I have been selling a large collection of books which once belonged to the British Drama League Library.


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