We have a feature on our Tumblr (http://nglspecialcollectionsandarchives.tumblr.com) that highlights terrible titled and wonderfully weird books every Thursday. It has been quite successful so we thought we would showcase it on the blog as well.
Today’s entry can be found in our Special Collections department. It is called Uneasy Lies the Head by Charles W. Berry. The work is unpublished so the dealer decided to subtitle it Unpublished Work on 1, 268 Ways to Die. The book is a listing of monarchs and great men and how they died. The work contains typed and handwritten manuscripts accompanied by illustrations of some of the great leaders and their method of death – some with gory detail. The book also contains an introductory letter from Berry to friends concerning his dinner parties. The genesis of the work may have come from a sort of dinner club, so maybe it is not so random. It is strange and entertaining work either way. Significantly, the work was in the famous Jenkins bookshop during a fire, and has smoke damage to the outside cover and spine.
Most of the leaders died in battle or were poisoned. However, Theodebert I, King of Austrasia (which is a real place), had the unfortunate luck to die by falling tree. Poor fella.