The Fireside Book (of David Hope)

We're missing a deer. The Fireside Book of David Hope 1975.

The first Fireside Book of David Hope (“A picture and a poem for every mood, chosen by David Hope”) was printed and published by D C Thomson & Co Ltd (Dundee and London).  The copy which L owns and treasures has “Christmas 1967” hand-written inside the front cover, although the book itself is not dated.  This copy (below) came into the TVC household decades after its birth, when P found it in a second-hand bookshop.

fireside-34Our very first Fireside Book was given to L for Christmas 1972.  The dust jacket of this 1973 edition tells how well-loved it has been.  It has been admired, treasured and memorised.
fireside-31How evocative those images are – they were the cultured, fairyland England of my childhood imagination –fireside-30
Some of these poems are in my mind to this day. “Deep in heaven now I lie, while the white clouds billow by…”
Although I was given one or two more of these precious tomes during my childhood –  I remember having a library full – years later, as an adult, I found an issue which I didn’t have.  Then P discovered a few.  One day he came home with an astonishing pile hidden behind his back.

“England” to me then was the numinous, the picturesque, Oxford, the past and the future.  Fay Inchfawn, John Betjeman, Eleanor Farjeon, Edna Jaques – these great invokers of an England which never existed wrote these poems for me, and artists unknown illustrated them.  Themes emerge across the years – the allure of the wild hills, the longing of a urbanite for the countryside, the cosy home on a cold night.
I felt an occasional jolt when I learnt that a poem which I thought belonged exclusively in my Fireside books, is owned by the world –
The books even granted me a glimpse of my future husband –
Every month (April is a favourite) and season (autumn rules) has its poems.  Deer, robin redbreasts and snow are essential to the  Christmas illustrations. Cricket (“The Game that’s Never Done” – how true), lawn bowls, gardening, visiting, rambling, gazing about in a pensive manner, reading and sailing are our pastimes.  Jody the tabby kitten, Hamish the Scotch terrier (who is chasing rabbits in heaven) and faithful horses are our friends.

My initial reluctance to look at the later editions when they came into my hands was, sadly, justified. The nostalgic, pretty sentiment of The Fireside Books of the 70s and 80s has almost entirely gone but its replacements are not improvements.

Some changes are laudable – by 1996 an index has appeared (although it is ugly) and some of the artists are named (although others are communally referred to as ‘staff artists’). By 2008 the Fireside Books are no longer “of David Hope”.

As  early as 1989, there are occasional odd touches.  The readership seems to be changing – brides have become grandmothers, shining up one’s cosy home is now just a lot of housework and melancholic musing gives way to bereavement; although surely not even a grieving stair-scrubbing nanna would accept that the “shy” Regency Place goes wandering off at night…

“…I can imagine, one fine night,

When the air is cool and the moon is bright,

Regency Place will stealthily glide

Away to the sleeping countryside;

Return it will, by a secret lane,

To its native fields and streams again.”

We at TVC  do not have the early 1990’s editions, but by the late 1990s the binding has faltered and the art (for the most part) is weird and somehow resentful…
…poorly executed…

….hideous, murky and slapdash…

That’s not to say that the earlier artwork was always terrific. In 1982 these lumpen freaks represented The Girls of Donegal, fairer than those of all Ireland and North America –
…and this picture was used not once but twice (1974 and 1977)…
There was this chap in 1983…

and this one in 1977…

For all their twee silliness, The Fireside Books before a certain date are worth 5 stars for their sense of the profound, their attention to detail and their beauty. Hope is not lost. The TVC collection is not complete.  Volumes from the 1970s and 1980s wait out there for us and when we find them, the nostalgia will be real.


  1. Reply

    Aron Hardt

    August 6, 2017

    Sumptuously atavistic!!

  2. Reply

    Miss Melanie

    August 10, 2017

    I feel like I missed out as I've not seen a Fireside Book before despite growing up in dear old Blighty. Must look out for them - they look enchanting!

  3. Reply


    May 15, 2019

    Please there's a certain David Hope, frequently credited for most of the poems in The Friendship Book of Francis Gay, a thought for each day in 1975 (the only copy I have).
    I've tried seeing other poems by him but barely anything comes up in searches.

  4. Reply

    Karen Sharp

    July 26, 2019

    I have recently had a copy of the 1967 edition of The Fireside book come into my possession. I'm wondering if it is collectable and if so who would I contact.

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      July 26, 2019

      Hi Karen, if you look online, you will see Fireside Books for sale everywhere and, - fortunately for us, but unfortunately for you - they do not fetch big prices. So keep and cherish this lovely little curio!

  5. Reply


    August 19, 2019

    I’m looking for the The Fireside Book by David Hope that has the poem” a women’s work is never done” etc.

  6. Reply


    December 3, 2019

    Karen, I have been collecting The Fireside books since the early seventies.
    I would be prepared to buy your copy off you if you wish.
    Regards, Ken

  7. Reply

    Jodi Coyle

    January 4, 2020

    I picked up three of these today for $1 each at an op shop. Nearly overlooked them because I thought the title was weird, but glad I picked up to flick through. I got 1976, 1977 and 1978. Mostly bought them for the illustrations.

  8. Reply

    Sheila Lymn

    March 10, 2020

    can any one help what is the poem about arranging flowers "in an Androit way ?she always had the right container !!!!!think it might have been in the fireside book of flowers ,I would love to know it again thank you xx

  9. Reply

    Sheila Lymn

    March 10, 2020

    can any one help what is the poem about arranging flowers "in an Androit way ?she always had the right container !!!!!think it might have been in the fireside book of flowers ,I would love to know it again thank you xx think the poem is by David Hope

  10. Reply

    Polly Grey

    April 1, 2020

    Hi I'm looking for the year of the Fireside Book of David hope that featured the Kiplin poem 'The Way Through The woods' It would be in the 1970 and was a treasured book from childhood unfortunately lost in a move from North America to UK.
    Many Thanks

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      April 2, 2020

      Hi Polly, we haven't found the Kipling poem in any Fireside books we have from the 1970s and the 1980s (we don't have the complete set though). if we turn it up, we will post a note.

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      April 2, 2020

      Meanwhile, here's the poem:
      "THEY shut the road through the woods
      Seventy years ago.
      Weather and rain have undone it again,
      And now you would never know
      There was once a road through the woods
      Before they planted the trees.
      It is underneath the coppice and heath,
      And the thin anemones.
      Only the keeper sees
      That, where the ring-dove broods,
      And the badgers roll at ease,
      There was once a road through the woods.
      Yet, if you enter the woods
      Of a summer evening late,
      When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
      Where the otter whistles his mate,
      (They fear not men in the woods,
      Because they see so few.)
      You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
      And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
      Steadily cantering through
      The misty solitudes,
      As though they perfectly knew
      The old lost road through the woods.
      But there is no road through the woods."

  11. Reply

    Polly Grey

    April 16, 2020

    Thank you lesley that is much appreciated

  12. Reply

    Katrina Robinson

    June 18, 2020

    Just replying rather late to the party to:

    Ann August 19, 2019
    I’m looking for the The Fireside Book by David Hope that has the poem” a women’s work is never done” etc.

    Ann, it's in the 1972 edition which I just got through the post today. Hopefully you've found it now in any case. Lovely illustration of a contented-looking woman feeding free-range chickens by a thatched cottage.

    Best wishes, Katrina Robinson

  13. Reply

    Lesley Jakobsen

    June 24, 2020

    Thanks for that Katrina

  14. Reply

    Ruth Goldsmith

    July 29, 2020

    'There is no reason I can see why anyone' - does anyone know the poem name or Year?. I no longer have the books.

  15. Reply

    Ross Pickford

    November 12, 2020

    It would seem that David Hope was the fictitious author of D. C. Thomson's, almost annual since around 1968, publication of 'The Fireside Book'. Thomson & Co., also published 'Francis Gay's Friendship Book' every Christmas which was a, antholgy of homilies by Francis Gay, again a fictitious author. D. C. Thomson & Co., was founded in 1869 and published a weekly magazine entitled The People's Friend (illustrated by J. Campbell Kerr, also fictitious), they also publish The Sunday Post (Scotland). They were moralistic with a strict, reserved, conservative Calvanist code in their publications.

  16. Reply


    January 2, 2021


  17. Reply

    Stephen Corrall

    February 8, 2021

    Thanks to VC and contributors for these helpful and invaluable comments. I used to buy these books for my Granny as Christmas presents throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. I now have the collection and am in the process of filling in the gaps. I believe the first one was brought out in 1968, although undated. I have almost all of them now from 1970’s to 2000. I positively refuse to collect them after 2008 when David Hope’s name was removed! Beware some of the prices though. I’ve seen people trying to sell them for over £120 each, when in fact you can pick them up for £2-£5. I love the nostalgia element of the books in pictures and words. Any comments from fellow collectors welcomed!

  18. Reply


    February 23, 2021

    Sorting through some boxes I came across two Fireside books. One is dated 1967 on the copywrite line and has a dust cover, the other is dated 1968 on the copywrite line but 1969 on the first page. If anyone is interested in these to fill gaps in a collection please let me know. Both are used but in reasonable condition.

  19. Reply


    August 10, 2021

    There was a charming poem in one of these books that ended ‘See now the feathered haft I fit at last - fly bravely, day, but do not fly too fast.’ I would so love to know what was that poem and in which book it appeared.

  20. Reply

    Caroline watson

    December 13, 2021

    Hi, can anyone please tell me what year , there was a poem called November? Starting with no sun no moon or something similar? I had that book as a child and I am avidly trying to hunt it down and have been ever since?

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      December 13, 2021

      Hello Caroline,
      I believe that the poem you are looking for is “November”, by Thomas Hood. It was published in 1844 when London suffered terrible smog. It is not in any of The Fireside Books. I do hope you find the book you are looking for; please let us know when you do.

  21. Reply


    December 27, 2022

    Has anyone got a copy of the book that has a purple cover with the fireside and cat? I was given this by my mum and dad whe I was a little girl and would love to find a copy.

  22. Reply

    Lesley Jakobsen

    January 1, 2023

    Happy New Year Mo, it is his 1967 debut (?), the cover of which (we think) is produced near the top of the post. Good luck to you in getting a copy!

  23. Reply

    Lesley Jakobsen

    January 1, 2023

    Thomas Hood


    No sun — no moon!
    No morn — no noon —
    No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.

    No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
    No comfortable feel in any member —
    No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
    No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! —

  24. Reply


    February 7, 2023

    I have been collecting The Fireside books for many years and now have 1971 to 1999. I have never come across anyone else who collects these books until now! I was given my first book in 1977 and for many years I didn't own any others. Then about 15 years ago I saw a collection of them for sale on eBay. I have been filling the gaps ever since.

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      February 7, 2023

      Hello Carolyn, thanks for your message! Judging by the comments here, The Fireside Books are widely loved. Good luck with finding those missing editions.

  25. Reply


    March 3, 2023

    Thank you Lesley! I have just purchased 1968. I have been looking for one for years and managed to obtain it for only a couple of pounds. Thrilled! I'm now on the hunt for 1969 and 1970.

  26. Reply


    August 12, 2023

    We are looking for the original poem of what may of been called the Highland Road, Tummel & Tay ran hand in hand.... we believe to be in the books between the 1950s to 1980s, I would love to purchase this book, my husband grew up with his father reading the poems to him but we travel the highland road often and want to do the actual route of the poem next year if possible and need to see the poem, many thanks ?

  27. Reply

    Lesley Jakobsen

    August 21, 2023

    Hi Nicola,
    nice to hear from. you.

    I think the poem you are looking for is 'October Running' or "A Small Car's Day' by Hilton Brown. It begins...

    "The Highland Road’s been sung before and will be sung again,
    So long as bards give thanks for good in the way of honest men;
    And let who will be contrary, the lave will yet agree,
    And cry again,‘The Highland Road, the Highland Road for me!’"

    ...and later... -

    " Tummel and Tay ran hand in hand,
    Farragon challenged us on
    Through the old enchanted Atholl land,
    Grim heart of Caledon;
    And the laughing Garry led us a dance
    By heather and rowans and rills
    Till we saw the red deer watching askance
    On the grave Drumouchter hills."

    I don't recall this one being in the Fireseide Books; but you will see that "The Cottage" (above) is by Hilton Brown.

    You should be able to find the whole poem easily with a Google search.

    Your Highland Road travel sounds wonderful. It makes me think of the marvellous film, "I Know Where I'm Going" * which is set in Scotland.

    Hope this helps. :)

    * See our posts "Petula Clark" and "Films to Help Remember Phone Boxes".

  28. Reply

    Clare Bainbridge

    September 26, 2023

    Hello again, I am still looking for one of the 1970's Fireside books which contains the Rudyard Kipling poem 'Way Through the Woods'. If anyone has a collection fro the 1970's I would be so grateful if they could take a look and let me know which year it was published. i am desperate to buy this book for a dear friend. many thanks.

  29. Reply


    October 15, 2023

    Hi! Very interested in who David Hope was. Does anyone have any info?

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