The Book of Dragons

For that is the title of the collection of short stories from which the illustration that graced our March box cometh! It was a delight to revisit such a strange and imaginative, if also rather E. Nesbit-y collection. It’s available to read and enjoy in full and for free here, for which we are immensely grateful.

I think of all the great and lasting novels in her impressive list of works, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, and The Wouldbegoods are the two books Edith Nesbit wrote that had the strongest impact upon me. As a small and only child, the ‘absent parents, large family of banded-together siblings’ trope appealed hugely to me, and, of course, the Bastables’ entrepreneurial spirit was something I found terribly exciting and engaging. I loved how the children were rounded, flawed, objectionable, and sometimes dangerously and anti-socially awful, but by and large, with their hearts in the right place. They weren’t afraid of hard work, and had their own version of London-past that was veritable catnip to my tiny mind. I still have an affection for Lewisham I can’t imagine having developed otherwise, for starters, and, come to think of it, Nesbit’s works are certainly why I have more respect for carpet than for most household objects.

There always seemed possibility, strategy, something to think about, something to do, some way out of even the most appalling situations that befell the children in Nesbit’s works. The Railway Children is many people’s favourite, certainly, it’s the one we see mentioned most often in your subscribers’ questionnaires here at Prudence and the Crow (which surprised me – if you’d asked me to guess, I would’ve thought Five Children and It which would take that place), but for my part, I’m in the ‘floods of hopeless tears’ bit every time I get to the end of it, and, accordingly, these days I simply don’t even start it. But I turn to the Bastables fairly often. My favourite venture of theirs is definitely the one where they start up a newspaper – I recently came across some old childhood papers of mine where I’d tried to imitate this repeatedly with my own fabled characters.

Nesbit herself had a full, if rather turbulent and tragic life, as did so many of our most beloved and prolific authors. I knew very little of her until doing some googling for this post, perhaps as much by choice, as anything – her worlds are so real to me that the more anonymous she seemed, so much the better. In this day and age, though, I’m so used to following my authors online, to knowing how they look, how they react, how they write, what they love, that I thought I might break through that imaginary wall. It was worth doing, and I shan’t attempt to summarise, but, as so often, Wikipedia will give you a good headstart if you’re curious.

Nesbit’s driven storytelling, firm grasp of magical worlds and great sense of practicality amidst adventure continues to inspire and delight me whenever I return to her works. I enjoy reading them now as much as I ever did, and find I have an appreciation of her directness of language (and of her present-narrator, my best-beloved of literary devices) that only increases, however much more I’ve read in between revisiting her tales.

I wonder sometimes how well-travelled her books are outside the UK. Certainly amongst people I knew who read (to my mind, reading amongst children was not nearly as common as it is now, not, at least, in my school), Nesbit’s stories were a staple, and the BBC TV series of Five Children and It was a marvel to us all, but I don’t know if I hear of them read as widely Stateside, or, indeed, in translation. We’ve had one or two American subscribers respond with extensive joy on receiving, say, The Treasure Seekers, and say they’ve not come across the stories before, but, of course, one or two are just that, and trends take a little more development! We’d love to know, here, or on Twitter, your favourite E. Nesbit tale, or, if you’re a current Prudence and the Crow subscriber and would like to receive one of her books some time, do drop us a line through our Contact Us page on the site, and we’ll see what we can do!

We hope you’re enjoying the first breaths of spring, and that you’ve got something lovely/horrible/mindblowing/amusing/whateverdoesitforyou to read for now. The April envelope design is my favourite to date, and I’m very excited for that blog already, but, until then, Happy Now! ~Prudence








‘Just the Book’ – the Yuletide gifting solution!

allthestuff2015.jpgYep yep, it’s all live and happening, and will be until 10pm on 5th December, when the page expires. Here be the FAQ, should you be curious, and hopefully your questions are answered!

  1. What do I do? First, go to our shop! You pick a genre (Classic Thriller (think Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming), Historical Romance (think Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt), Youth Fiction (Enid Blyton, Puffin books), Classics (Penguin Classics, Brontës, etc) or Random (…which is random). You purchase this through Big Cartel.
  2. What do you do? First, once the offer has closed, we will contact everyone who has purchased this individually to check the details of delivery addresses, gift messages and so on. We can ship directly to you, or straight to your recipient. Please note we can’t take individual book requests, or tailor book choices through this communication – that’s what we do in our PatC box, which remains available for purchase throughout!
  3. Once everything is good and correct, we randomly select a book from your chosen genre, wrap it up beautifully in printed brown paper (the design pictured is last year’s – the Crow has designed a new one in the same vein for this year!), slip in a library card, a card with your gift message on it, and a tiny candy, and then we send it on its merry way!
  4. Can I buy more than one? Yes, you very much can. However, if you need them shipped to more than one country you’ll need to check out separately for each country, otherwise you won’t pay the correct P&P costs.
  5. When buying more than one bundle, don’t worry about the recipient addresses. We will contact you to check names and addresses for all purchases.
  6. Some genres are more limited than others. Whilst our offer ends on 5th December, some genres will sell out earlier than this, so, if you’re set on something, don’t delay!

For further details about our gift options and subscription boxes available, please read our lengthy Tales of Yuletide Joy post!



Tales of Yuletide Joy

pclogomainGreetings and salutations, all! We are here, at last, with our festive winter plans, and, hopefully, some clarifications for you, thanks to the art of the long-form blog.

Things to be covered herein: What a recurring subscription is, when you can buy one. What you can buy between now and January 13th. Purchase and posting dates. Our special Yuletide offer, the return of the popular ‘just the book’, for anyone who needs a Secret Santa/stocking filler. Gift certificates.

Yep, there’s a lot to talk about!

  1. Recurring subscriptions. These are currently closed until January 13th. A recurring subscription is one in which PayPal automatically bills you the cost of your box on a certain date every month. Should you wish to purchase a recurring subscription for yourself, but also want to start now, you’re very welcome to purchase a one box for December and January, and then subscribe when we re-open the ability to do so for February – we’ll continue your subscription straight on from there.
  2. Right now at Prudence and the Crow and until Jan 13th you may purchase a One Box, 3-month, 6-month or 12-month box. You may do this for yourself, or for a friend/relative/partner/other human/probably don’t get your dog one. Do remember that we’ll need your friend’s name and address to be able to send it to them, rather than your own default PayPal one.
  3. Last purchase date for a December box is 5th December. All boxes purchased after this will be/begin with a January box. See further down for info on purchasing January boxes as gifts. All US/Canada/Australia/NZ December boxes will be despatched on or before 14th December. European ones will be sent by the 15th. UK ones will be posted by the 21st. These be the last posting dates as set by Royal Mail.
  4. On 27th November we will be opening our Yuletide offer, ‘Just the Book’ once more! This little bundle will be a random vintage paperback, beautifully wrapped with a handwritten gift card, along with one of our library cards in its card holder. These cost just £6, inc. UK P&P. The book is randomly selected from your chosen genre, so this is not a suitable gift for smallest children or people who have very strong opinions on their books – the regular PatC box option is where we take the recipient into account! This offer closes on 5th December. All books will be sent by 19th December.
  5. Gift certificates! On 6th December, for 24 HOURS ONLY any 1, 3, 6 or 12-month box purchase from us comes with a free physical gift certificate, which will be printed, hand-signed and stamped, encased in a fine envelope and posted out to you (in a second envelope) or your recipient (there’ll be a special form for this) right away in time for actual gifting over the festive period. From 7th December onwards, you will receive a printable PDF gift certificate to fill out, or email on, yourself.
  6. Phew! That’s all for now. Have a handy timeline of our winter business at PatC:

NOW – purchase a 1, 3, 6 or 12-box for/starting with December for yourself or a friend.

27th November – the ‘Just the Book’ offer will go live. Links will be posted in all the usual places.

5th December – the ‘Just the Book’ offer closes, and it’s the last day to order/start with a December box.

6th December – You can purchase a January box, or buy a 3, 6 or 12-month  bundle to start with a January box. It’s Physical Gift Certificate Shopping Day! Links will be posted everywhere.

7th December – 1st January – you may continue to purchase January boxes. If you purchase for someone else, you will be automatically the proud recipient of a digital gift certificate you may print or forward to the recipient as you wish.

24th December – 2nd January From midday on the 24th, the Crow and I will be officially closing our metaphorical office doors and taking a break from customer service until midday on 2nd January. We will not be checking email or social media. If you should have any customer service issues during this period, please, please, please use the Contact Us form on our website to ensure that we receive your message and, on our return to work, can get back to you ASAP.

13th January – Recurring subscriptions will re-open, and January despatch week will begin, and yay!

That is it! Also, don’t forget, we do have a FAQ that you may wish to peruse before making a purchase or asking us anything.

We hope you are all as bright and well as can be this uncommonly sunny November day, and we’ll keep you posted with everything we’re doing along the way!

~Prudence, and the Crow




Verily, We Swim in Books!


Greetings all! It’s a little while since we did any communicating in longer-form, so, Prudence here, with a touch of housekeeping and a couple of updates!

In PatC-world, we have been reunited with our worldly belongings, from which we’ve been separated for over a year whilst relocating. It’s wonderful to have everything back, but it’s a little overwhelming, having boxes stacked ceiling-high and all manner of things to sort, share and get rid of!

The best part of this for me was having my grandparents’ books home with me at last – I was fortunate enough to inherit all their hardbacks, which range in quality and interest, but all bear my grandmother’s name, scribbled in ageing ink inside the cover, often with the date she bought and read it, or the details of the person who gave it to her. She and my grandad bought each other books for every Valentine’s Day (also their anniversary), birthday and Christmas, and I love seeing their marriage in terms of those gifts of fiction. I also have my great-aunt’s very random travelogue books, mostly Victorian accounts of the Far East and South America, which make for interesting reading. It’s hard not to drop everything and immerse myself in these wonderful, and sometimes dreadful, books, but there’s work to be done, so they must wait!

In the world of housekeeping, a couple of points!

New Subscribers – the address we will have for you is your default PayPal address. If this address is NOT the one you’d like your box delivered to, you do have to drop us a line and let us know, otherwise, that’s where it goes! You can pop the address you’d like the book to go to either in the questionnaire you’ll find at the end of the payment process, or through the Contact Us page on our site.

Price Changes – It’s April, so that means the cost of postage has risen once more! Alongside that, most of our suppliers raise prices around this time, so we’re going to be reviewing costs over the next month or so. Consider this a little forewarning, if you are thinking of signing up! We will never raise the cost of subscriptions for those who are already signed up, so, as long as your payments are continuous, you will only ever pay the cost of the box when you take out your subscription, regardless of any future raises for new subscribers.

Box Business – We’re still a work in progress, and everything isn’t quite as polished and consistently brilliant as we’d like! I try really hard to balance things out during the run of a subscription, and as ever, do know that, at this point, unlike most (indeed, all the ones that I can think of) other subscription boxes, we do not have any partners, nobody pays us to include anything in our boxes, and we do not receive any free inclusions from others in order to promote them and increase the value of our boxes. Think it looks a little handmade around here? It totally is! We love that about our boxes, and we’re always working on making each box more awesome than the last. The Crow and I buy or make all our inclusions ourselves, and we always try to make them fun, well-sourced and entertaining. One day we might partner up with people, if we get the right offer, because we’d certainly, especially in the world of teas and sweets, like to be able to promote our favourites, but we’re discerning, and also control freaks, so that’s one for the future.

Contacting Us – We love to hear from you! Love it! But if you have a query, or anything that requires an answer, you must, must use the contact from at – it’s the only way to ensure that we see it, and we like to keep a copy of all our correspondence with you. Don’t send us details through Facebook or TWitter etc, as a) we don’t check them so regularly and b) we can’t guarantee we’ll actually see them, owing to the high level of both correspondence and spam we get through social media channels!

Let’s go back to some fun things – I’m so, so happy to see Ursula K. le Guin getting some love from Radio 4 of late. The Earthsea Chronicles were hugely, enormously formative reading experiences for me, and I still find them so powerful, so gloriously well-constructed, it’s so exciting to hear that they’re about to be dramatised for the dear BBC. The fun has already begun as well, with the two-part dramatisation of The Left Hand of Darkness finishing this weekend, and the wonderful interview with the master herself which you can also find via that link. Anyone with any interest in sci-fi, feminism, great story-telling, the power of language, the language of power, magic, world-building, or any combination of the above, if you aren’t familiar, or even if your familiarity is simply a little distant, I implore you to go and enjoy all that there is to offer from her works.

We’re so excited by every new subscription we receive. I always look forward to new questionnaires, and we love, love getting to know your likes, shaping a corner of your library, seeing your #patcbox #shelfie photos, all of that. I love when I’m out and about, and I suddenly come across the perfect book for Sarah in Lancaster, or the very novel that Jamie in Edinburgh has been hoping to receive for months. We genuinely love what we do with our hearts, and we promise to keep working hard to make our boxes as enjoyable, as curious, as readable as possible.

All the best this Spring,

P (and the C).

Dear Bloggers: Advice For Would-Be Reviewers

In light of many recent requests, might I point to some recommended reading…! Also, subscriptions are open 😉

Let's Not And Say We Did


Having had and been involved with several successful online businesses, I’m very familiar with the blogosphere’s role in promoting and reviewing such things. We get a lot of requests around all these businesses for reviews, features, requests for donations to things, offers to sample our products, any which way you can think of phrasing the getting of something without paying for it, we get them. Thing is, whilst, as I say, we know and love a good reviewer, we very rarely end up responding to anyone, because the requests are just so unhelpfully written, or missing vital information. And when you’re trying to get something for free on the basis that you’re going to review it on your excellent blog, if you can’t ask for it properly, it doesn’t give great hope for your blog being, well, worth our getting involved with.

But we get SO many poorly-phrased/organised requests…

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Review: My first Prudence and the Crow box!

Such a lovely review of a June #patcbox within!

A deal of nothing.

After developing a seriously major obsession with subscription boxes a month or so ago (it started with Lootcrate and I haven’t looked back) I stumbled across Prudence and the Crow and instantly had to subscribe.

As a humongous literature nerd and generally book-obsessive human, it seemed totally perfect. Prudence and the Crow is a monthly vintage book subscription service, sending you a hand-picked vintage or used book based on the specifications you lay out when you subscribe, plus a few little goodies, too.

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Mary Stewart, 1916-2014

Greetings, all. Prudence here.! This post is in memoriam of the glorious Mary Stewart, writer of so many wonderful things, and, most importantly to me, of my favourite book of all time, in any genre – Ludo and the Star Horse.

It’s a beautiful tale of a boy and his horse, who, when covered in a snowdrift, find themselves making a strange and terrible journey through the zodiac. It’s all the feelings, perfectly told. It makes me sob like the child I was when I first read it, every time. It’s wonderful. I dream of adapting it into a film one day. Literally, I dream of this a lot.

Mary Stewart died last week, at the magnificent age of 97. She left us with some incredible stories, and she built blocks of my childhood (time spent playing A Walk in Wolf Wood, for example!), and she wrote the magnificent Merlin quintet which is always, always a joy to come back to.

Like the very greatest writers, I always feel I’m in safe hands when I pick up one of her novels. If I’ve been consuming contemporary literature in abundance, over-reading the pulpy things, or struggling through something I’m not enjoying but want to know how it ends, sometimes I come back to her stories for that perfect sensation of flying through prose like a hot knife through butter, for the comfort of being with a writer who’s so completely comfortable with their craft and characters that all that’s left for you to do is read, read, read and enjoy.

I’m so utterly grateful for her works, and never tire of sharing Ludo and the Star Horse, amongst her other works, with anyone and everyone I can. Rest in Peace, Mary Stewart, and thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for all the stories.