Thinking allowed

The Nine Tailors

Cover design of the Folio Society edition of The Nine Tailors

Cov­er design of the Folio Soci­ety edi­tion of The Nine Tailors

One of the things that long ago sparked an interest in bell­ringing (for we had no bells at the church I wor­shipped at as a child) was Dorothy L Say­ers The Nine Tail­ors, which I saw in the BBC tv adapt­a­tion, fea­tur­ing Ian Car­mi­chael, in the mid 1970s.

It was many years, though, before I read the book, in the lovely Folio Soci­ety edi­tion (pic­tured right), but now I belong to a read­ing group, which is cur­rently look­ing at this book. Although I have read it a couple of times before, this is the first time I have read it since I learned to ring, and I have been writ­ing posts explain­ing about bell­ringing. For prob­ably all non-bell­ringing read­ers of The Nine Tail­ors, the details of the ringing included in the book are pretty opaque — they add lots of col­our, but are largely incom­pre­hens­ible. And the chapter titles all involve puns on ringing expres­sions and the like, and these puns are missed without some know­ledge of ringing.

Since I have lived for many years on the edge of the fen­land area where the book is set I have a second interest and spe­cial­ist sub­ject area as well, and on Sat­urday I got out the car and drove around some of the area, con­cen­trat­ing on the start and end of the Old Bed­ford and New Bed­ford Rivers, between Earith and Den­ver, tak­ing lots of pic­tures. I shall have to plan anoth­er excur­sion in order to get some angel roof churches (March and Upwell, espe­cially) and some pic­tures of fen­land roads and oth­er gen­er­al scenery.

Per­haps I should turn the bell­ringing notes and the fen­land pic­tures into a web­site about The Nine Tail­ors. Mean­while, I have uploaded the pic­tures here.


  • Grantham, Bill says:

    Monday, 26 June ‘06/ Tar­pon Springs, Fla.,USA

    I was look­ing for con­firm­a­tion of:

    Nine tolls for a man’s death:

    Sev­en for a woman’s;

    Five for a child’s.

    Is this cor­rect? What is your source?


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