Here’s a bit more about Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw’s under-appreciated Musrum books.

Unlike most love stories the lovers in Wintersol never really meet. If you can call them lovers. There are 2 protagonists, Christmas and Bella. They inhabit a series of interlocking spaces within the musroid world, i.e. the world devised in Musrum.

The musroid world is a headstrong replica of the world we know constructed on the principle that all conceivable and inconceivable things persist within reality, and that myth is the true history of this or any other world.

Christmas and Bella don’t need each other except as a reflection of themselves and their solitude is generally inevitable – intimacy is just a dream. For a short period they exchange letters which is the closest they come to the dream, but you can’t help feeling that anticipation is more quintessential than consummation.

‘Rotabella, my pretty silver wheel,’ wrote Christmas, ‘I want you to spin the fortunes of my journeys, and carry me hither and thither with the speed of starlight. There are so many places to go, so many sights to see!’

‘Warden of the Snow, Rubicotta,’ responded Bella, ‘I feel already the blizzard of your beard. Red-garbed, white-haired, wooly-mittened, jack-booted, sack-bearing, chimney-creeping, kindly burglar, you are my Garibaldi sprung from the grave.’

‘The laggard postman is no friend of lovers,’ wrote Christmas. ‘Enough of paltry scribblings! I shall dispatch myself, a living letter, for you to open and read. Be ready!’

‘Fly down, gaudy robin, and perch on my finger,’ implored Bella. ‘Sing me the thin song of winter. If you want me to believe in you, do not disappoint me or disregard my final request.’

Eventually Christmas descends the chimney, but the bed is empty, Bella plays a trick and disappears.

On one level the book is a joke which proposes an alternative origin to the Santa Claus tradition, but of course it is mainly a procession of surrealist nonsense with ingenious and skillful illustrations. The book was first published in 1971. Here is the frontispiece

here an excerpt from Christmas’s diary

and this one’s not for children of a nervous disposition



When I was in the sixth form in school it was in Redcar in the North East. The only cool place you could go for a change of scene was the town library which was a brand new building and was certainly the only thing that came close to good modern architecture in the area. There was a lot of natural light, a cafe, some plants and possibly a water feature in the middle somewhere, my memories are vague. A few of us use to hang out there sometimes and whilst doing so we might look at some books. One of the books we found there became an obsession for us for a while. It was called Musrum and was produced by Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw.

The eponymous hero is a mixture of Merlin, Mohammed and Julius Caesar. It is a satire of history and mythology which is also an ode to surrealism. Most of the words are by Thacker, who described the book in an interview once thus,

Musrum is a demi-God who is King of Intersol. He has a Garden of Eden and a Tree of Life and there is an Adversary called the Weedking, who naturally coverts it. There’s a Creation, a Death and a Resurrection, a Holy War, a Messianic Banquet.

Earnshaw did the graphics and you can a get impression of the guy from his website linked above. Rather than write about him here are a couple more images. Firstly one of several map-related pictures from the book.

And here’s one of the more macabre images which bear some similarity to themes from Gorey.

That’s all for now but some time later I will write a bit and show a few more images from Musrum’s sequel Wintersol.