Two books by Arnold Mallinson 

Arnold Mallinson (1896–1985) is an author whose extraordinary, often outlandish writings have already given pleasure to the many readers of his two books, Quinquagesimo Anno (1974) and The Leaning Tower (1982). Their contents are briefly listed below. The second book has remained in print, but the first sold out soon after its publication. It was reissued in 1986 in a new, enlarged edition, and with a new title – Under the Blue Hood. This page gives you the opportunity of ordering copies of either book by post.

The author

Arnold Mallinson was born in Lancashire in 1896. He went to school in Blackpool, served in the Navy in the First World War, and then attended the universities of Durham and Oxford. He was ordained in 1924, and after beginning his ministry in Blackpool, soon returned to Oxford, where from 1933 to 1976 he was Vicar of St Frideswide’s, Osney (with, from 1950, St Margaret’s, Binsey), and where he now lives in retirement in the latest of a series of Glenburn Houses.

All through his life he has had a consuming curiosity about everything, and has committed his perceptions to paper in a captivatingly idiosyncratic style. The reviewers of his books have put it well: ‘the vicar has a way of saying things, a method of sorting his copious and often quite bizarre thoughts into order, that is quite individual ... perhaps his most enduring characteristic is his amazing picaresque style’ (Oxford Mail); ‘like all truly interesting men, the Vicar of St Frideswide’s has the rare gift of detecting and imparting what is interesting in others. And what a richness of experience he conveys!’ (Oxford Diocesan Magazine).

Under the Blue Hood

What blue hood? You may well ask. It is the author’s gaudy B.Litt. hood with white fur lining, won in 1924 for his thesis on the coins of ancient Palestine (extracts included). The other contents of the book were conceived under its benign influence. What are these contents? The best answer to this is to quote again from the reviews:

‘juxtaposes learned discourses on coin collecting, weird poems uncovered in the attic, small gems from the parish magazine (including a description of the Battle of Jutland, which Mallinson saw from H.M.S. Warspite) and tales of tripe and chips from his Lancashire childhood’

‘stuffed full of the most surprising riches from a lightly penned treatise on the Silver Shekels of the First Jewish Revolt to three recipes for Lobscouse’
Oxford Mail

‘It is all here: what goes on behind the scenes at coin auctions, what the link is between a mosque near the sea of Galilee and Noah’s flood, how to make marrow rum, what Lewis Carroll said when asked for his views on the restoration of the well at St Margaret’s, Binsey, why dignitaries of the Eastern Armenian Church wear pointed head-dresses, how the Leaning Tower of Pisa would look if made vertical again, and so on, and so on.’
Oxford Diocesan Magazine
In addition there are profuse illustrations, and the various sections are briefly introduced by relevant experts, most of whom know the author personally.

Introduction by Henry Hardy
A Lancashire Childhood
Palestine: The Gospel in Stone
An ABC of Confirmation (Agrigento, Binsey, Christ Church)
Parochialia Sermons
Numismatic Department
Poetry Department
Olla Podrida
Envoi to the second edition

pp. xxviii+340, hardcover, 21.5 x 14 cm, illustrated throughout, 0 946976 1 5
£12.50 inc. postage and packing

The Leaning Tower, or Out of the Perpendicular

A little melange of merry memories, meditations and mythology, conceived under the blanket of the dark – for amusement only and not to be taken seriously except the religious bits

What if fleas were dinosaur-size? What is Truth? What happens to the wedding-rings on corpses? What has the Princess of Wales to do with Yarnton Manor? Why does a fez have no brim? What happened when Charles II opened Barbara Villiers’s closet to help himself to cherry cordial? Was Prince Albert henpecked? What did the cardinal say when he tasted the Chianti at Montefiascone?

All these questions are raised – and some of them even answered – in this unique’ gallipot gallimaufrey’ I of a book, as the author calls it, written over a period of six years between the ages of 79 and 85. This is a ramble through Arnold Mallinson’s kaleidoscopic early-morning musings, a stream of wildly eccentric consciousness presided over by a great love of people, places, and above all coins, many of which are strikingly illustrated within. You have never read anything quite like it.

‘After 43 legendary years as vicar of St Frideswide’s, Osney, Father Arnold Mallinson could not stop composing little talks in his mind as he lay meditating in bed each morning. Hence this altogether delightful book of reminiscences, chats, poems, imaginings and bits of more or less accurate history. .. Like those What the Butler Saw machines that so delighted the author’s youth, the book is, he says, For amusement only, apart from the religious bits. In fact the religious bits are the most hilarious of all.’
James Bentley, Country Life

‘few books read this year have afforded such delicious and improbable entertainment. The author is now well into his eighties but still with a mind like a steam engine and the curiosity of a toddler ...Each chapter discloses hidden valleys, unsuspected vistas, secret pockets of life. ..And perhaps one should add that the book is a pleasure to look at and to handle.’
John F. X. Harriott, Tablet

‘Its main purpose. to entertain and amuse those who will read it and this it achieves with the utmost distinction.’
‘Senex’, Oxford Times

Introduction by Humphrey Carpenter
The Leaning Tower
A Trip to Rome
Doge City
At Last the Leaning Tower
Sexy Seaweed and Amorous Prawns
Ghosts in Florence
Three Mansions in Oxon.
Glimpses of Pepys (and a History of Coins)
The Wheals and Whims of Kemow
Ye Olde Chymist Shoppes
‘Do You Believe in Jesus?’
Carausius and his Brethren
Tomato Soup
A Moon’s-eye View of the Whole
Merry Moments with Blackpool Rock
C.M.C. – an Eighteenth-century Coin-collector
Chats on Old Coins
Biographical Note on the Author

pp. xx + 228, hardcover, 21.5 x 14 cm, illustrated throughout, 095038809 2
£10.50 inc. postage and packing