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Do It Yourself Fun, 1920s Style.

  • The 1929 edition of The Week-End BookThe 1929 edition of The Week-End BookHow might your friend be like a suet pudding?
  • What's the ancient lineage of a Tamworth pig?
  • How is it that "the sheep built the churches"?
  • Whom would you throw off your sledge on a dark and wintry night?

The answers to these questions, and more, are found within The Week-End Book, first published in 1924 by the Nonesuch Press.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, this little book offered sage advice as well as entertaining distraction for those in England lucky enough to be able to be included in weekend getaways to the country. The Week-End Book was the work of Francis and Vera Meynell, who attempted to balance the competing interests of excellent book design and affordable production in the books they created for Nonesuch, their private press.

Game-board-printed endpapers from The Week-End Book, 1924.Game-board-printed endpapers from The Week-End Book, 1924.And just what was The Week-End Book? Part general travel guide, part advice for guests and hosts, and plenty of interesting trivia and suggestions for how to have fun while away with friends. And as you might imagine, the fun they suggest was largely of the do-it-yourself variety—recipes for food and drink, bird watching, parlor tricks, games for indoors and out, and more.  There’s an odd slow motion game of tag called Three Steps that I am dying to try in Bryant Park this summer (any takers?). There’s also a sort of human hunting game that I could see unfolding in Central Park (that is, when we're through curling there). 

The fish-decorated Sea Sequel to The Week-End BookThe fish-decorated Sea Sequel to The Week-End BookThe indoor games are filled with word-play as well as chances for biting jokes against fellow players.  I’ve got a scheme to unleash a couple of these games upon the world this year, so stay tuned.

The Week-End Book clearly found its audience; wildly successful, the book went through 34 printings in 31 years.  The Library holds a number of editions, including the earliest, the most recent (released in 2006), and even a sea-going version called The Sea Sequel. With Art Deco inspired cloth bindings, distinctive endpapers printed with gameboards, and artful illustrations within, each edition pleases the eye.  And for those of us interested in finding pleasure in games with friends, or in heading out to reclaim the joy of outdoor play, The Week-End Book remains an inspiring resource for DIY fun.


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Retro Weekends

Ah, The Weekend Book! I attended a delightful party several years ago, and our hostess entertained us for hours with this book. Please do arrange for a Three Steps game in Bryant Park!

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