Here in the office, summer is when we try to relax a little, draw breath and catch up with the things for which there isn’t normally time. This year Jennie and Anna are further improving the website and putting on to the index our entire archive of contributions to past issues, so if you are a subscriber, any piece we’ve ever published will soon be available for you to read. Meantime we two will be settling down to some quiet reading in our search for unusual and outstanding memoirs to add to the list of Slightly Foxed Editions. We always welcome your suggestions, so if you have a favourite memoir that is now largely unavailable, do get in touch. There are plenty of forgotten memoirs out there we find, but few have that indefinable voice that makes them unique, and it’s a real joy when we come across one.
This summer’s Slightly Foxed Edition, by our old friend Eric Newby, certainly has that individual voice. Love and War in the Apennines (see p. 13) fills in the part of the Newby story that preceded his marriage to Wanda and his brief career in the fashion business which he described so hilariously in Something Wholesale (SFE No. 41). Here Newby is an escaped prisoner-of-war in the mountainous Apennines after the Italian government’s surrender to the Allies in 1943. Italian peasants risk their lives to shelter him, and it’s here that he first meets Wanda, with whom he falls in love, and whose Slovene family help him to escape. The extraordinary story is told in Newby’s endearingly jaunty style, but there is no question, as he admits, that the trauma of this experience affected him for the rest of his life. A must for Newby fans, and a treat in store for anyone who hasn’t yet encountered him.
We’re also looking forward to sharing with readers young and old the first two of Rosemary Sutcliff’s great quartet of children’s novels set in Roman Britain: The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf and The Lantern Bearers, some of which have long been difficult to find. Many of you will have read them as children: reading them as adults we found ourselves entirely lost again in the haunting atmosphere Sutcliff summons up of the last days of a great empire in this cold British outpost far from Rome. They bring a lost and fascinating world tangibly alive, and we couldn’t put them down. We’ll be reissuing the first two as SF Cubs this autumn, and the other two in September 2020, and we can take advance orders for all of them now.
On 15 June our eighth podcast, in which we’ll be discussing the art of travel writing, will be available – like the previous seven – via our website, or any other means you choose. We’re delighted that so many of you have written to tell us how much you enjoy the podcasts. After initial nerves at actually being ‘on air’ we are enjoying them too, opening another window between us and you, and introducing you to more of the life of Slightly Foxed and the people who contribute to it. We hope the podcasts will introduce some new readers to SF too, so if you are enjoying them, please do put the word about.
A new batch of our popular clothbound SF notebooks is also now available. There is a choice of two colours, our attractive signature duck-egg blue and an elegant pale mushroom. They both come, as before, in two sizes: the larger one the size of Slightly Foxed itself, and the smaller the size of the Slightly Foxed Editions.
And finally, congratulations to the winner of our writers’ competition T. M. Delaney who lives in Orkney. He will receive a prize of £250, and we look forward to publishing his piece soon.