The Moon Key


Final CoverIt is an old woman’s lot, to weigh on the scales of human emotion the sweet pain of remembrance, and the bitter gall of loss.

In those fateful early years of the twentieth century, and with a cruel inevitability, a generation of women faced-down tragedy, and came through nonetheless. Some endured the test, proud and determined; others less so, saddened and chastened.

For many, love survived in the precious token, in the faded image, in the scribbled line. Not least, love lingered in the fond remembered kiss.

In this bittersweet short story we witness one woman’s loss, and the redemptive power of enduring love; where only the Moon Key can open the door.

The Moon Key is published in an edition of 50 hand-printed, numbered and signed copies, of which 45 are for sale. Price £5 plus postage and packing.


Some years ago I digitally scanned my father’s old photograph collection. Amongst the fond remembered images of childhood holidays, Sunday outings, and early motor cars, I was captivated by a haunting image of my paternal grandfather. I remember him as a kindly old man, busying himself with his watch repairs, his watercolour painting, and his work for the church.

Grandad Hobbs 1917 Aged 22But this face told a different tale, it hid a young heart heavy with emotion, brim-full with responsibility and uncertainty. It held in the moment an enduring love. Above all it dared to dream of return, of homecoming, of safety.

Mercifully he came through those years, though many like him did not. He survived the unspeakable horrors, and returned to Grandma in 1919. For so many women life was cruelly different.

When, earlier this year, my daughter set me a writing challenge, and gave me a title – The Moon Key – but no more, my thoughts returned to the photograph. And so the story was born.

These one thousand words are less a eulogy, than a fond acknowledgement of the enduring power of love.


When considering the design of this little book I had in my mind’s eye those modest publications of the pre-war private presses. I was keen to achieve a certain purity and clarity of style, not overwrought with decoration. The beauty of the type, above all, had to shine through.

Final Title PageIt was the easiest of decisions therefore to approach John and Pat Randle at the Whittington Press, and ask them to consider the job. Happily they agreed.

Pat Randle runs Nomad Letterpress under the same roof as the Whittington Press, in the Gloucestershire village of Whittington. He continues the tradition of printing books and other items by letterpress, from type. All through this joyful process he advised me on the choice of typeface (in the end it just had to be Caslon), on the methods of typesetting and printing, and on paper. It was both a privilege and a joy to work with him on seeing the book through to production.

For the binding I chose fine hand-made marbled paper from Jemma Lewis.

This book is a grateful testament to their skills.

(See my News page for a little more on the Monotype process).