Reading’s waterways have significance to numerous artists and are particularly important to the town’s literary heritage. In Three Men in a Boat author Jerome K Jerome had some less than complimentary things to say about the River in Reading, namely: “the river is dark and dismal here, one does not linger long in the neighbourhood of Reading”.
Whilst Reading’s industrial landscape may have come in for much criticism over the years, there are also lots of lovely areas along the banks of the Thames. These have inspired people like the wildlife painter and printmaker Allen W. Seaby who created some beautiful images of birds in and around Reading. Seaby also wrote books, including the Sheltie the pony novels for children. He went on to be professor of fine art at Reading University.
When Peter Hay set up Two Rivers Press in 1994 he was inspired by the town’s waterways to celebrate the place where “art and history meet”, just like the Thames and the Kennet. Much of the Two Rivers’ output explores and celebrates this connection between art and history, for example they have produced beautifully illustrated editions of some of the more famous literary work connected with Reading, like the Ballad of Reading Gaol and Rimbaud’s Drunken boat.
Two Rivers is known for its distinctive formatting style, when we interviewed the press they said that it was difficult to define what made one of their books- but they definitely know it when they see it. As you can see from these pictures there isn’t a clear divide between the words and pictures, in Two Rivers‘ books text and images work together to tell the story.