Title: Only the Unexpected Happens. Seven short ...
Publisher: Hackney, the Stourton Press
Publication Date: 1985
Book Condition: Very Good
Signed: Inscribed by Author(s)
157 pp. + publisher's limitation (this is one of just 150 copies printed). James McBey (illustrator). Signed by author with inscription "Dear new and forever friends." on the front free endpaper. Red, cloth-covered boards with leather spine, gilt illustration on the front cover. Tipped-in illustration on the verso of the half-title. Pearsall [née Gross], Phyllis Isobel (1906 1996), map publisher, was the younger of the two surviving children of Alexander Gross (formerly Grosz; 1880 1958), a Hungarian immigrant from Csurog, near Budapest, at that time selling oil lamps door to door, and his wife, Isabelle (1886 1937), a playwright and suffragette, and daughter of Arthur Crowley, a lapsed Irish Catholic priest and dealer in second-hand pianos, of Peckham Rye, London, and his Italian wife. The artist (Imre) Anthony Sandor Gross was Phyllis's brother. Alexander had established Geographia an initially successful map-publishing business in 1907, but went bankrupt and fled to Chicago in 1920. In 1924 she went to Paris and enrolled at the Sorbonne, supporting herself by writing for John Bull, an English-language magazine. In 1935 Phyllis got lost one evening in the streets of London and subsequently realized that the most recent street map of London dated from 1919 she decided to produce her own. Starting with the Ordnance Survey sheets she walked the streets of London for eighteen hours a day, compiling a 23,000 card alphabetical index of streets, which she kept in shoeboxes under her bed, and produced the first London A Z Street Atlas in 1936. After W. H. Smith had taken her first 250 copies the A Z was in great demand, and she founded the Geographers' A to Z Map Co. Ltd in the same year. She did all the research, printing, and distribution, and employed Mr Fountain, who had worked for her father, as her draughtsman. Despite her bouts of ill health Pearsall, a tiny, frail-looking woman, remained chairman of the Geographers A to Z Map Co. Ltd until her death, though from the late 1950s she rarely visited the office, relying on her management team to run the business while she went on painting holidays in Europe. The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the company, in 1986, was marked by an exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society; in that year she was appointed MBE.