Anniversary CoverThis week, our Spring 2014 catalog lands in mailboxes around the country, signifying—we hope!—the end of a long, hard winter and the beginning of those sunny, fragrant days that beckon us outside with a good book. And in addition to introducing you to more than one hundred new books and bookish gifts, our Spring issue celebrates something extra special: Bas Bleu’s 20th anniversary!

To commemorate this milestone, our new edition includes several “party favors” just for you, dear bluestockings—a birthday blowout sale, 20% off our top 20 books of all time, profiles of our editors Ann and Christie, and not one but four anniversary-themed catalog covers. We’ve also penned “A Brief History of Bas Bleu,” for those of you who may not be so familiar with our story…or the story behind our unique name. (You can read the tale below, while you anxiously await the mailman’s arrival.)

We hope you enjoy this week’s special delivery. We’ve certainly enjoyed these past two decades, thanks in large part to our wonderful readers. Our beloved “bookseller-by-post” wouldn’t be possible without you. Here’s to the next twenty years!

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Does anyone recognize this? It’s the cover of Bas Bleu’s very first issue!

A Brief History of Bas Bleu

In the mid 1700s in England, Elizabeth Montagu, a wealthy but childless matron, set out to invite her like-minded friends to “conversation parties,” where men and women of an intellectual bent would gather to discuss literature, music, etc. We’re told that this literary salon “enjoyed society in undress”—that is, in their more practical country clothing, rather than the more formal clothing of society. When one of the men attended wearing his blue woolly country stockings, instead of the white silk hosiery he would wear in the city, the group became known as the “bluestockings.” Many of the attendees were fluent in French and referred to themselves as “we bas-bleus.” Inspired by these spirited, intellectually curious people, Eleanor Edmondson founded Bas Bleu in 1994. Her idea was to create something like a friendly neighborhood bookstore—in catalog form—that embraced the scholarly pursuits and wry humor of the original bluestockings. Though Eleanor retired in 2008, Bas Bleu remains passionately committed to her worthy mission. It has been an exciting two decades and we are delighted to be part of a thriving community of modern bluestockings. Thank you for your continued interest in “the odd little book” and quirky literary wares!