Ernest Lakin-Smith –
Hoping he may find
time to explore some
of these Welsh Lakes
in the future!
With all best wishes
from – Cary W. Davies
Christmas – 1937.
You can write a book but after that each individual copy of your book will live a life of its own – a bit like your children. The book may sit unloved by an individual but treasured by many on a library shelf. It might may live its life with one person and spend generations within one family home. A book is often considered an expression of love, a gift.
A personal inscription can provide the clue to the life of a book and the hands which held it.
For me finding a copy of The Lakes of Wales by Frank Ward is like meeting an old friend. I want to say hello and continue the conversation. Where have you been? What have you been doing recently? I was not surprised to find a copy of Ward’s book in the wonderful Gregynog Library recently but this one spoke back to me.
The enigmatic inscription inside the front cover (reproduced above) left me full of questions. Clearly this copy of The Lakes of Wales was given as a token of appreciation to a respected and busy man. Mr. Lakin-Smith was not addressed directly as a friend and it seems doubtful that he would have time to explore these lakes. I can imagine that this book was dropped off with his secretary before Christmas 1937, with no expectation that the giver, Cary Davies, would get to meet the man. Maybe Cary hoped he would find the time and come see the lakes of Wales with her.
So far I have been unable to find out anything about Ernest Lakin-Smith. Who was he? Mary, the fantastic Gregynog librarian, did not know who he was either and she said she did not think Cary W. Davies was one of the Gregynog Davies family. Some of the Gregynog library collection came from the Theological College in Bala, so it is possible that the book found its way to Gregynog from Bala.
So I reluctantly put this copy of The Lakes of Wales back on its shelf and left with a feeling that the life story of this book was still untold but full of mystery.
I would be delighted to hear from readers who can tell me more about Ernest Lakin-Smith or Cary W. Davies. If you have a copy of The Lakes of Wales, you are welcome to continue the book conversations by reproducing any inscriptions below.