It is August 1704 and the Duke of Marlborough is leading an allied army through the Low Countries to challenge the Catholic Louis XIV of France, who has his eye on the Spanish throne . . .
Do read on for an introduction to Ronald Welch’s Captain of Dragoons, a wonderfully atmospheric and fast-moving book set during the early years of the War of the Spanish Succession, by our dear – now sadly departed – friend, reader and regular contributor Jeremy Lewis.
‘Has anyone ever told you that Slightly Foxed is exactly the right size for handbags in any situation where a boring wait is part of the procedure? I never go to the surgery without it, even if it means re-reading contributions as they always bear a second look . . .’
‘Herewith my cheque hoping that, for another two years, you will continue to deliver the wisest perspective of entertaining and diverting reading. All good wishes to you all . . .’
‘Dear Fox, As ever, it’s good to be reminded that my subscription has expired. I can’t imagine not wanting to renew. As ever, I have enjoyed my year of reading, both reading the articles and, through them, (re)discovering books and authors. The Fox continues to be a welcome highlight in my year. I had . . . ’
‘You must be cruel to be kind,’ gardeners tell you, about pruning roses. ‘The more you cut them down, the more they love it.’ This might be true of roses but is it true of book collections? I should imagine they absolutely hate it. Or perhaps the ones that survive are so relieved that they turn a blind eye to the atrocities going on further down the shelf . . .
We don’t really do sales here at Slightly Foxed so instead we thought we’d simply send out a plea to our dear readers to help us clear a shelf or two this August, and take the opportunity to stock up on paperbacks, notebooks, back issues and cards . . .
We don’t really do sales here at Slightly Foxed so instead we thought we’d simply send out a plea to our dear readers to help us clear a shelf or two this August, and take the opportunity to stock up on paperbacks, notebooks, back issues and cards . . .
It was only after I retired that I looked along my bookshelves and realized there were many books I was never going to open again – so why not try to sell them? I signed up to sell online and was delighted when Heidegger’s Being and Time, unopened for decades and then only very briefly, sold the next day. This was evidently a Good Idea. I had been attending book fairs for years, so the next step was obvious: take a stall at a fair . . .
‘Hello all at Slightly Foxed, thanks so much for The Road to Waterloo which arrived today – safe, sound and unexpectedly early! Once again, it’s a beautifully produced volume and maintains your brilliantly high standards. Your Ronald Welch collection has pride of place amongst some much loved and well used children’s books from three generations . . . ’ A. Bown, Leicestershire
‘I wanted to thank you for introducing us to Adrian Bell, who both my husband and I have really enjoyed. I did not think I would at all, in fact out of all your editions I thought his sounded like the one I would least enjoy – and then somehow I read Corduroy and was mesmerized. It is so beautiful, one of those books which is about nothing and yet everything . . .’
‘I just wanted to tell you all how very much I have enjoyed Adrian Bell’s Corduroy. It is a magical description of a vanished time, very evocative in so many ways and has kept me engrossed far beyond my usual lights out time . . .’
‘I have just finished devouring Corduroy and Silver Ley and am hoping that you will publish the third book in the trilogy. My husband is a farmer in a small way (they’re all small in New England) and these books (plus Brensham Village) capture the joys (quiet) and character – as well as the trials – of farming . . .’
‘Your small publication is a jewel and I look forward to every issue. My best to you all,’ E. Smithies, Canada
‘I’m so glad I discovered Slightly Foxed even if it was only a couple of years ago. It seems like an old friend; the reviews are perfectly pitched in terms of length and content and the feel of the magazine is so good . . .’
We’ve celebrated the art of wood engraving from the very first issue of Slightly Foxed, using these richly detailed illustrations to decorate our articles. In Issue 43 we began an occasional series of standalone features on some of our favourite engravers, and Kathleen Lindsley was the first. This beautiful engraving of a lunar eclipse seemed to be . . .
‘I can’t wait to receive the first magazine. I had a peek at the digital version and I already love it. Best present ever . . . ’
‘To all at Slightly Foxed – providing an island of warmth and civility amongst the fury’ M. Ward, Northampton
‘Dear Slightly Foxed, Yes, I know Christmas is over, but I’m getting an early start for this year and placing an order now! Absolutely LOVE the Christmas card design. I could look at it all year. I’m going to frame one of the cards. Thank you!’
‘Dear Slightly Foxed, Many thanks for No. 48 and 84, Charing Cross Road. Ms Hanff has lost none of her exuberant charm over the years and I am working my way through the book with great delight . . .’
‘Thank you for your lovely newsletters and for the pleasure I get from reading each copy of Slightly Foxed. I really look forward to it coming. I wish I lived nearer . . .’
‘A little early to send a Christmas card, but I felt I needed to thank you after such a after such a pleasant weekend, due to the arrival of both the Winter issue of the magazine and the beautiful copy of 84, Charing Cross Road . . .’
‘With shrieks of glee and clapping of hands like a small child at Christmas, I am delighted to say that my bookplates arrived today. I absolutely love them! The designs are all so beautiful. It was very difficult to choose . . .’
‘Thank you for the pack of The Slightly Foxed Christmas Card, which I purchased to give to my reading group friends. The photograph didn’t do it justice . . .’
‘Thank you so much for the review of the Cazalet Chronicles last year. On the basis of that I have now read all five, my mother is enjoying them also, and my eldest sister is next in line. None of us can understand how this lovely writer appears so little acknowledged in literature . . . ’
‘The current SF has many treasures; I’m especially struck by Sarah Perry’s piece on The Blue Field – I adore these blue flowers, admire Sarah Perry, and love ‘the Englishness of parsnip wine drunk in imprudent quantities . . .’ And how good to see Robin Blake on The Man on a Donkey, a much-loved book in my childhood home that I thought forgotten. So, in the pages of Slightly Foxed I have found my people . . .’
‘To my shame, I have only recently subscribed to Slightly Foxed but I am absolutely hooked. Thank you for everything you all do. It is such a lovely thing.’ M. Lyons, London
‘My parents bought me a gift subscription recently. I may only be halfway through the first edition that I have received (No. 58), but I really enjoyed Sarah Perry’s article on The Blue Field and I wanted to order the Slightly Foxed edition . . .’
‘The other week, a surprise parcel turned up in the mail for me. Inside was a beautiful, clothbound new edition of a never-before-published Ronald Welch book, The Road to Waterloo . . .’
It seems a rather odd thing to admit these days, but I spent much of my youth reading war comics and watching war films. That’s how it was if you lived in a house filled with boys in the 1960s. As a result I can still recite, without recourse to Wikipedia, the names of the three men who won a bar to the Victoria Cross (Chavasse, Martin- Leake and Upham, if you are interested), and I can easily recall the boiling hot afternoons during the summer holidays that I spent at Tobruk or on the Normandy beaches, flying low over the Möhne dam or high in the skies above Kent – all while sitting in a 1/9d seat at the Regal Cinema, Wallingford . . .
In Issue 58 of Slightly Foxed, Richard Platt reintroduced us to Henry Thoreau, his tragic tale of loss and his literary road to recovery. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was written after Henry fled to the woods to work the land and build a cabin, running away from grief and depression that followed the death of his brother. This decoration by Clare Leighton appeared on the cover of the American edition of his book.
As the Battle of Britain was being commemorated with a roar of engines and ribbons of coloured smoke for the RAF’s special centenary year celebrations overhead this lunchtime, here at No. 53 we were turning to the bookshelves to prepare to celebrate in a literary fashion for today’s newsletter . . .
Inspired by the thought of fleeing the scaffolding of Hoxton Square, we’re steaming into the Slightly Foxed archives, travelling back to the spring of 2013 and stopping off in Brazil, via Ukraine, to meet one rather extraordinary writer in this month’s article from a back issue . . . ‘Her name is Clarice Lispector, one of the most original and fascinating writers of the twentieth century.’
September 3 dawned dark and overcast, with a slight breeze ruffling the waters of the estuary. Hornchurch aerodrome, twelve miles east of London, wore its usual morning pallor of yellow fog, lending an added air of grimness to the dimly silhouetted Spitfires around the boundary. From time to time a balloon would poke its head grotesquely through the mist as though looking for possible victims before falling back like some tired monster …
The sleeper lounge is old-fashioned British Rail, all tartan carpet, smeared tables and microwave cuisine. Tonight it contains a gathering of solitaries, all of us making separate journeys to London. The man beside me is still working, though it’s nearly ten o’clock. By chance we order the same whisky. We raise our plastic glasses, embarrassed in a very British way. I want to encourage him. He is at war with a pile of papers. But he is wishing me good luck as well. He has been glancing at the author’s face on the back cover of my novel. She does rather stare . . .
I am sometimes asked which writers have changed my life. Next time I shall not answer ‘Proust’ but ‘Rachel Khoo’. For five years, since the death of my husband, I had all but given up cooking and eating, all but forgotten what I had valued before my personal doomsday. Rachel Khoo has re-engaged my taste-buds and my enthusiasm. I may even convert my fantasy dinner parties into real ones. I am already making lists . . .
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 July 2018
Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire
The BB Society and the H. E. Bates Group brought together accomplished authors, artists, historians, actors and others at Lamport Hall to celebrate the county’s literary and artistic heritage of ‘BB’ and ‘HE’. There were also displays of pictures, books and memorabilia, as well as film shows and illustrated talks throughout the weekend.
‘Reading Haldane has transformed the way I understand the Highlands. He taught me how to follow on foot the routes of the drove roads, and to look for the patches of open ground that would have been the “stances” of the drovers: the resting-places, close to water and on level ground, where the men could sleep and the livestock could graze. And he introduced me to the drovers themselves: these hard men, the long-distance lorry-drivers of their day, accustomed to the boredoms and rigours of their journeys, and equipped with internalized sat-navs of astonishing accuracy. They navigated not from maps but from memories, stories and gossip . . .’
Slightly Foxed subscribers receive free entry to the book fairs on presenting their membership card . . .
‘A short while ago I made the very bad decision to cancel my subscription to Slightly Foxed. Now I find that I simply can’t do without it. Would it be possible to start it again from when it stopped, so I don’t lose any issues?’
‘This is to let you know that I have just received the latest SF, for which many thanks. Once again a breath of civilization, culture, good humour, intelligence . . . has entered my life.’
‘I wanted to let you know how much I loved the Readers’ Day. It was the first one I’d been to and I very much hope it will be the first of many . . .’
‘Yesterday’s Readers’ Day was outstanding in every way – we loved it all. Thank you to every one of you who made it such a success . . .’
‘Good morning to all at Slightly Foxed! I felt I must get in touch to let you know how much I enjoyed the Readers’ Day on Saturday. You had chosen a varied and interesting selection of speakers; I especially enjoyed Helena Drysdale and Posy Simmonds. Both had gone to the trouble of preparing an excellent presentation and both were excellent communicators . . .’
‘Thanks for a fabulous publication. I’ve only been subscribing for this year, but it’s been a wonderful addition to my life. I’ve since read many of the books that you’ve covered in the last few months and have enjoyed them so much – so many brilliant reads . . . ’
‘Many thanks for your letter confirming my subscription renewal to Slightly Foxed. Looking back it seems I first subscribed in 2007 – where did those 10 years go?! In all that time the magazine has been a joy to receive (no hyperbole), and it is also a pleasure to know that there are people (yourselves!), who would wish to publish such a magazine . . .’
How well is Pamela Frankau remembered? She was born on 3 January 1908, so last year was her centenary. But . . . no garlands? No memorials? No flourish in the literary pages? Well, Pamela would be the first to look on this with wry amusement, and without complaint . . .
They seemed reasonable enough requests. Don’t lie on the bed naked in case passing servants catch an eyeful. Also, in mixed company, could he try to swear only in French? Modest pleas made by Theodore Watts-Dunton to the poet and ex-libertine Algernon Charles Swinburne when they first set up home together. It was 1879 and Swinburne’s relish for brandy and flagellation had reached a critical point. In the nick of time, Watts-Dunton, the gallant walrus-moustached solicitor-turned-author, had plucked his friend from the depths and carried him off for a spot of detox in Putney.
‘Dear Foxed Quarterly, Thanks so much for making the ordering process so easy. I bought the September issue at Dulwich Books to give with the subscription and once I looked inside, had a really hard time resisting the temptation to just keep going. It’s such a great present . . .’
‘Dear Gail and Hazel, Of course I shall be renewing my subscriptions and adding another for my brother! There is something magical, calming and restorative in your quarterly magazine. Is it perfection of format and print and illustration or choice of contribution, varied and surprising and always beautifully written? Or is it simply that you reflect my interests and experiences. . .’
‘Dear Slightly Foxed, my initial subscription was an early Christmas present to myself last year, and now I can’t imagine being without it so I must carry on. It feels like I have stumbled into an oasis of a half forgotten civilization. Long may you prosper . . .’
‘Hello! I just wanted to thank you for the copy of Slightly Foxed that you recently sent me from your Instagram giveaway. Your magazine is new to me and I have been enjoying it thoroughly, not just the interesting articles and fantastic writing, but the beautiful journal itself . . . ’
‘Hello friends at Slightly Foxed. How is it possible I have not heard of you before? I subscribe to the LRB, have been to the UK many times, read Persephone books, buy many British magazines at Barnes & Noble, etc. etc. (I really make an effort) but only stumbled across your website today when looking up the book A House in Flanders . . .’
‘As I have said many times since first subscribing, this is a most excellent magazine and you are all doing a worthwhile and amazing job in the world of books . . .’
Somerset House explores the power of print by celebrating the past and present of Britain’s thriving independent magazine scene. Print! Tearing It Up will be the first exhibition to trace the journey of independent voices in magazines and journals from their roots in the early 20th century to today’s contemporary titles.
Until 22 August 2018
Somerset House, London
Summer is now in full swing here at Slightly Foxed. The new issue of the quarterly has travelled far and wide to subscribers all over the globe, and whether you too are off to far-flung places this summer, or simply staying at home, we hope you’ll find it good company.
In this month’s newsletter we’re celebrating fathers and grandfathers with Denis Constanduros’s charming memoirs, My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father, published together for the first time as our 20th Slightly Foxed Edition. Do read on for an extract from this charming book, and a few suggestions for presents for this coming Father’s Day or, indeed, for any occasion.
Slightly Foxed subscribers receive a 10% discount when staying 2 or more nights at this B&B in West Cork . . .
‘I was going to write and thank you for my summer edition of SF when it arrived well . . . however the lure of reading it overcame my good intentions.’
‘I recently received a mailing from you that led to the inference that my subscription has lapsed. This was never my intention. Foxed is an essential part of my life . . .’
‘Dear Gail and Hazel, Slightly Foxed has become a necessary part of my life. The consistency of your publication is entirely admirable . . .’
‘Dear foxy people, Oh! Dear me — all the jobs that don’t get done because a new copy of Slightly Foxed has arrived! Delicious . . .’
‘Dear Slightly Foxed, I look both Ms Mantel and Mr Bell away with me. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with Giving up the Ghost but I found her view on memory very interesting. How right she is too that . . . ’
‘My order arrived yesterday evening! I’m delighted and can’t wait to dig into the lovely books, and so pleased to see my Slightly Foxed shelf growing and growing . . .’
‘My wife is delighted with her present. Thank you for your assistance is getting the present put together and out here in time for Christmas . . .’
‘Thank you very much for The Road to Waterloo which arrived safely this morning – just as I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms after finishing the series . . .’
‘A bossy lender will record the deed in an imposing ledger or demand a deposit, but will then get a reputation for meanness. You may stick in handsome personalized Ex Libris bookplates, all beautifully engraved and perhaps slyly pretending to be your family’s coat of arms, but your shelves will be stripped bare as soon as word gets round the community of avid and unscrupulous collectors of bookplates . . .’
‘Who could not be inspired by the treasures you give us in Slightly Foxed? I have been reminded so often of books that I read in the past and now have the pleasure of encountering again . . .’
The Suffolk Anthology is an independent bookshop in Cheltenham, named for the bustling Suffolks area in which it sits. Helene Hewett set up shop in 2015, and we’re pleased to say that Slightly Foxed has adorned its shelves from the very beginning. Since opening, the bookshop has flourished, gaining a loyal following of regular customers, as well as attracting passing visitors.
For me, independent publishers are the people in the industry who are prepared to take risks on new authors and books where the larger players either don’t wish to venture, or where they can’t see there being a return on.…
Greetings once more from No. 53 Hoxton Square. The turn of the quarter is almost upon us and we have the pressing – and cheering – business of good reading to report. The cream pages of the summer issue of Slightly Foxed, No. 58: ‘A Snatch of Morning’, have rolled off the printing presses up at Smith Settle, been pressed, nipped, trimmed, sewn and bound, and then lovingly stuffed into handsome (and ecologically friendly) sturdy brown envelopes and bundled into postbags to begin their journey around the world . . . And we’re off to Brensham with our 42nd Slightly Foxed Edition, The Blue Field, and a snippet of Sarah Perry’s lovely preface by way of introduction.
‘I wanted to let you know that I ordered Portrait of Elmbury based on the review and excerpts in SF. I’ve just finished it and have to say that this was one of the most wonderful books I’ve ever read, so thank you for being the conduit to my discovery! I grew up on a farm in rural Australia in the 1970s and 1980s, which is a far cry from 1920s and 1930s rural England and yet . . .’
‘Dear Slightly Foxed Team, Thank you so much for such wonderful and prompt service. The recipient (and his parents) were thrilled . . .’
‘I enjoy every issue and have every single one since you started. They are scattered all over the house . . .’
‘We love Slightly Foxed. I remember very clearly the day I first read about the quarterly and thought “I think I would like that . . .”’
‘While I am not purchasing today, I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed books I bought from you. They include A House in Flanders, and Marrying Out. Marvellous stuff. Thank you, from a fan in Canada.’ B. Turner, Canada
‘I have just read your newsletter with pleasure as always, and was particularly pleased to read again the article about Tom’s Midnight Garden; it has been one of my favourite books since I started reading it to my children. The other delight that you have started giving us are BB’s books . . .’
‘I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I was to receive my set of Ronald Welch books earlier this week. These new editions are exquisite – simply wonderful to hold, feel, smell and browse through. Thank you so much for bringing these superb books back into print. I can’t wait to start . . .’
‘I am looking forward to receiving the set, having read my first Ronald Welch novel as a very young boy in the late 1960s leading to a life long interest in history and historical fiction. I have been collecting Ronald Welch books for some time, but these are becoming more fragile with age . . . ’
Early one morning, late in July, the villagers of ‘crack-brained Brensham’ woke to a remarkable spectacle. There amid the customary colours of furze and wheat was a seven-acre field that ‘had suddenly become tinctured with the colour of Mediterranean skies’. Nothing like it had ever happened before, so that the villagers caught their breath at the sight of this miracle: a great, vivid patch of cerulean ‘so clear and pure that it made one think of eyes or skies’ . . .
‘I was simply searching for the best writing on birds when I came across J. A. Baker’s The Peregrine (1967) – a book that isn’t so much the ‘best’ as the only writing of its kind on the subject . . . ’ Annabel Walker introduced us to J.A. Baker, his book and its powerful subject in issue 45 of Slightly Foxed. Her article was illustrated by this wood engraving by C. F. Tunnicliffe.
The Biographers’ Club is now accepting submissions for The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2018. The prize of £2,500 will be awarded to the best book by a first-time biographer at a party in London.
These beautiful book spines by John Watson first appeared on the contents page of issue 54 of Slightly Foxed, and we liked them so much we wanted to share them with our readers around the world. Now, if you order a gift-wrapped present for a fellow book-lover, we’ll tie it up with our signature foxed ribbon, and hand-write your personal message on a handsome gift tag bearing this wood engraving.
I first came across Spark when working in a little second-hand bookshop off the Charing Cross Road. A battered tome of her selected works was on sale in the outside pile, desolately stationed there to be picked over by tourists and dampened by rain. Not having much to do (the shop closed a month later, not necessarily because I’d worked there) I started reading one afternoon, and was hooked. For while Muriel Spark makes you laugh out loud, she also makes you think – she must, I feel, have been a formidable dinner-party companion, quietly sitting there with her razor-sharp tongue . . .
The Child that Books Built is the title of a memoir by Francis Spufford which explores the impact of books read in childhood by interspersing an account of Spufford’s own reading with excursions into history, philosophy and psychology. It beautifully articulates the formative nature of childhood literary exploration. ‘The words we take into ourselves help to shape us,’ Spufford writes. ‘They help form the questions we think are worth asking; they shift around the boundaries of the sayable inside us . . . They build and stretch and build again the chambers of our imagination.’
Inspired by our contributor Sarah Perry and our fellow booklovers Lucy Mangan and Damian Barr (see the body of the newsletter to enter the draw for tickets to a special Literary Salon event at The Savoy featuring Sarah and Lucy next month) and by Lucy’s recent memoir Bookworm, we’re revisiting some favourite childhood reading with Daisy Hay, in her piece from Slightly Foxed Issue 32. Happy reading.
My own prime favourite is Anthony Powell’s sequence of novels A Dance to the Music of Time: panoramic, sharply observed, farcical, ironic, yet shot through with what Kingsley Amis called an endlessly inquisitive melancholy. We shadow the narrator Nick Jenkins from the callow half-understanding of youth, in the Twenties, through the drastic remaking of lives and relationships by war, to late middle age in the heady Sixties and Seventies – a whole new age of absurdity against which the novel’s various endgames are played out . . .
Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Readers’ Day. Over the years Slightly Foxed has come to seem more like a club of people who love books than just a magazine. This is always very noticeable at Readers’ Day, a high point in the SF calendar to which some of you come year after year, to meet the staff and some of our contributors, and enjoy the delectable cakes.
We are delighted to hear that Edmund Gordon, winner of the 2017 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize for The Invention of Angela Carter has been shortlisted for the non-fiction category in this year’s Locus Awards.
Inspired by the call of the sea, for this week’s newsletter we dived into the Slightly Foxed archives and fished around for something suitably watery. We floated past some very good pieces on Swallows and Amazons (Issue 18), Patrick O’Brian (Issues 40, 42, 44) and The Compleat Angler (Issue 54), but we were looking for something a little more unusual. A few more kicks and there it was: nineteenth-century fisherman on the east coast of Scotland, a lost love and plenty of adventure. So off we go to sea, with Galen O’Hanlon on Neil M. Gunn’s The Silver Darlings.
Sea Fever aims to celebrate all forms of the written word inspired by this exceptional coast-line, and to bring to the coast writers with national reputations.
Our Editors, Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood, took their audience of festival-goers behind the scenes at Slightly Foxed on a sunny Saturday in May.
‘In his spare time, Calum carves rabbits and squirrels from pieces of wood. He doesn’t question his position in life, longing only to be free with the birds in the trees.’ Julian Hoffman introduces us to The Cone-Gatherers – two…
Some years ago a couple of friends were running a speed-dating event at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature and, being short of male participants and knowing I was performing at the festival that weekend, they asked if I could help…
Slightly Foxed Editors Gail and Hazel talk to Miranda Mills on the Tea & Tattle podcast ‘This week, I’m joined by Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood, the founders and editors of the literary journal and publishing company, Slightly Foxed. I’m…
For this newsletter we’re travelling to Cairo with a young Priscilla Napier to investigate an unsettling egg-related incident in an extract from A Late Beginner, introduced by Penelope Lively whose latest memoir – Life in the Garden – is one of our favourite books published in recent months. Please read on for an extract and, to follow, a few spring reading ideas, some missives from readers and new subscriber offers from Foxed Friends.
‘“Those are good pigs,” he said, “aren’t they?”
If he had said they were bad pigs I should have agreed with him equally. Their shape meant nothing to me.
“Good length,” he explained, “broad in the back and not too much head.”
I strove to see it, but no person can appreciate the points of a pig till he has dwelt long with them.
Looking back, I cannot tell at what point I began to know a good pig from a bad one. The farmer’s eye is as subtle as the artist’s.’
‘This week’s episode of the Stack podcast comes with a warning: If you feel like you have too much stuff to read, do not buy a copy of Slightly Foxed magazine. The literary title launched 15 years ago as an antidote…
It’s a wonderful thing when a book so fires the imagination that it becomes more real than the world around you, when the mind is totally absorbed, the page dissolves, and you begin to exist differently. It was mainly a thing of long childhood summers, when I was a musketeer, then a Viking, a wizard, a centaur – once even a quickfooted warrior mouse. Sadly it stopped in adolescence, when these things weren’t done . . .
A short vignette of a book being created using traditional printing methods. Shot at Smith-Settle Printers, Leeds, England for the Daily Telegraph. The book being printed is Slightly Foxed Edition No. 18, Suzanne St Albans, Mango and Mimosa Shot, Directed…
We’re celebrating blue skies and sunshine this morning as Spring seems to have finally arrived. There are crocuses sprouting in Hoxton Square, and yellow tulips brightening up our office. These spring catkins by Yvonne Skargon first appeared in Slightly Foxed Issue 29, where they adorned the contents page.
*This exhibition closed on 6 May 2018*
The relationship between language and the living world is celebrated in this exhibition of poetry and illustration. The Lost Words is a unique collaborative project between the award-winning author and Slightly Foxed contributor Robert Macfarlane, and acclaimed artist and author Jackie Morris, that seeks to reconnect people with the natural world.
Slightly Foxed is looking for a friendly, enthusiastic person to help in the Hoxton office on a part-time basis with packing orders, gift-wrapping books and subscriptions, stock management and general day-to-day administration of orders.
We need a lively, well-organized person who genuinely takes satisfaction in preparing and dispatching items, enjoys gift-wrapping, and is happy to hand-write cards and messages to be sent with items. Slightly Foxed prides itself on its personal, friendly and high-end service, which is something that our readers love so, in this role, you’ll be a very important part of the team.
As we look towards bright spring days here in Hoxton Square, we find our minds turn to warmer climes, and particularly to Book/Shop in Oakland, a beautiful space that’s lined with books and flooded with light.
‘I had the privilege – alongside the wise and learned Caroline Moorehead and Ian Kelly – of helping judge this year’s Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, which was last night awarded to Edmund Gordon for his superb The Invention of Angela Carter . . . This was an exceptional shortlist, in which every book showed not only thorough knowledge of its subject but deep and sympathetic understanding. And from the Tudor court, to the battlefields of the first world war, from a busy obs/gynae ward on the NHS to the august halls of the National Gallery, from a book-lined study to a Japanese love-hotel, we were thoroughly immersed in the worlds these books inhabit.’
In 1994, Hilary Mantel joined the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, where I was working as Secretary. She was in her midforties, and her sinister and hilarious fourth novel, Fludd, had been a big hit with our President,…
Greetings from Hoxton Square where the new quarter’s usual delightful flurry of orders is keeping the office foxes on their toes. Ordinarily we send out a newsletter just once a month, so you may be wondering why you’ve now received two in fairly swift succession. Well, in last week’s missive we rashly promised we’d be in touch again soon with some further suggestions for Mothering Sunday presents. We suspect that most of you have been extremely well-organised and have already placed your orders by now, but we did promise so if you are in need of some last-minute ideas you’ll find a few suggestions in this newsletter . . .
We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Biographers’ Club Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2017 is Edmund Gordon for The Invention of Angela Carter.
Meteorologically speaking, we are still deep in mid-winter, but here at Slightly Foxed the new quarter waits not for the weather, so we are delighted to announce that it is now, officially, spring. Thanks to the sterling work of Tracey and her team at Smith Settle printers in Yorkshire, the new issue of the quarterly: No. 57, ‘A Crowning Achievement’, is now on its way to readers all around the world. Whether you make the most of the inclement weather and curl up in a favourite chair to devour it immediately or wait for a fair day for some al fresco reading, we do hope you’ll enjoy its typically eclectic collection of good writing and good reading . . .
Debbie George has been a painter for over twenty years. Her work is a celebration of her passion for flowers and the objects with which she surrounds herself. She finds inspiration in many forms, ranging from ceramics and plants to books and wallpaper, textiles and landscape. Assembling flowers or objects within the foreground of a painting and setting them against a variety of backdrops, Debbie builds up layers of paint that create a wonderful luminosity and depth.
Luke Martineau, Westminster, Afternoon Light (detail) Luke Martineau was educated at Eton and Oxford and then studied briefly at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London before beginning to paint professionally. His versatile output encompasses portraiture, landscape, still life…
Clare Curtis, ‘The Thought Fox’, linocut Clare has worked in print, design and illustration for over twenty years. The craft of drawing and printing are as important to her as the strong design, patterns and beautiful colour combinations that you’ll…
‘She rises still. A region must be found unhaunted by birds, that else might profane the mystery. She rises still; and already the ill-assorted troop below are dwindling and falling asunder. The feeble, infirm, the aged, unwelcome, ill fed, who have flown from inactive or impoverished cities – these renounce the pursuit and disappear in the void. Only a small, indefatigable cluster remain, suspended in infinite opal. She summons her wings for one final effort; and now the chosen of incomprehensible forces has reached her, has seized her, and, bounding aloft with united impetus, the ascending spiral of their intertwined flight whirls for one second in the hostile madness of love.’
A belated happy New Year to you all from No. 53 Hoxton Square. January at Slightly Foxed is a time of great activity as, with set jaws and the kettle on a permanent rolling boil, we turn to the annual task of ‘proof-reading the database’. . . We’ll be in touch again next month with more news of the coming quarter’s issue and books but for now, let’s meet at the Folly Brook with ‘BB’ and his Little Grey Men.
‘They fly free from every page, carrying the salt breeze and the sound of the waves with them . . . The author was very much a field naturalist, and accordingly British Sea Birds takes you where its author went, out among the birds, into their world. Gibson-Hill’s birds, captured in his fresh, lucid prose and exquisite photographs, are not dead specimens, anatomized by a detached scientific gaze.’
The shortlist for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2017 has been announced. The Prize of £2,500 will be awarded on 6 March with a drinks reception at The Library Club, St Martin’s Lane.
I love the fact that Sagan blew her £75 advance for Bonjour Tristesse on whisky and a chic black sweater. But she got the last laugh, and plenty more jumpers, because the novel was eventually translated into twenty languages, sold 2 million copies and was made into a film starring David Niven and Deborah Kerr . . .
A lot of the stories I loved most as a child involved doors. Aged about 4, I suppose, I passed through the small, latched door in the hillside, into Mrs Tiggywinkle’s flagged kitchen, filled with the ‘nice, hot, singey smell’ of ironing, busy and reassuring. A few years later came the doors into Narnia, the Secret Garden and Wonderland, Bilbo Baggins’s ‘perfectly round’ green door with its shiny yellow brass knob ‘in the exact middle’, the door into the Yellow Dwarf ’s home in the orange tree, and the dark door into Bluebeard’s bloody chamber . . .
But reading to my own children, the door I’ve been happiest to pass through again is the door into Tom’s Midnight Garden – a door one can only imagine because, unlike most of the others, it is never described.
The literary editor, novelist, memoirist and lady of letters Diana Athill turns 100 today, and is still writing. To celebrate her birthday, we are delighted to share the article she wrote for Slightly Foxed in Issue 28, Winter 2010.
. . .
There is no book more haunting than W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. I would not advise anyone unfamiliar with his earlier books to make it their introduction to his work, because his decision to do away, in this one, with paragraphs, and the way in which the narrative unfolds, are disconcerting enough when first encountered to be off-putting. It is necessary to make an act of trust – to put yourself in his hands; and this may be a problem for anyone who has not yet learned to trust him by reading his wonderful The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn and Vertigo. I doubt whether I would have persisted beyond the first thirty-odd pages of Austerlitz if I hadn’t already learned that wherever Sebald led, I must follow him . . .
The last few months have whipped past in a flurry of ribbon, brown paper, gift cards and books as Anna, Jennie, Katy, Olivia and Hattie (with help from extra elf Izzie) have worked like mad things to get everything packed up and posted out…
In 1922, Richard Kennedy’s formidable grandmother pulled a well-connected string and got him a scholarship to Marlborough. To say that Kennedy’s education up to this point had been patchy is an understatement. As he describes it in his childhood memoir…
Belgravia Books of London is an independent bookshop run by an independent publisher, so it is no wonder that Slightly Foxed has sat proudly on its shelves since it opened its doors six years ago.
There are subscriptions to arrange, presents to be wrapped, renewals to attend to and office puppies to be walked, so we’ll leave you in peace to read an extract from the new Slightly Foxed Edition: No. 40, When I Was a Little Boy, a charming and poignant memoir by the author of the well-loved children’s classic Emil & The Detectives, Erich Kästner.
invite you to join them to celebrate the publication of Slightly Foxed Issue 56 and When I Was a Little Boy.
There will be books galore, plenty of wine and a 20% discount on all purchases on the night. So please do come and be merry, and stock up on Christmas presents.
Thursday 7 December 2017 • 6.30–8 p.m.
The Slightly Foxed Writers’ Competition produced a record number of entries this year, all of them worth reading. Subjects tackled were many and various, from Dr Johnson to taxidermy, and we had such difficulty choosing a winner that we finally opted to award a joint first prize . . .
Hisham Matar, winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2016, has won another international literary prize. The Geschwister-Scholl-Preis was initiated in 1980 by the State Association of Bavaria in the Stock Market Society of the German Book Trade and the city of Munich . . .
‘One image of a veiled woman was all net and nose. Then, by laying down carefully pared pieces of onion-skin tissue-paper behind the place where the impression would be made, Brian brought out and made visible the expression of traumatized, envious sympathy the artist had engraved into the wood in her depiction of the woman’s face. It slowly came alive at his touch – though Brian would pass the credit back to the artist who created the picture. I suppose he is right; but his contribution is closer to that of a concert pianist interpreting a score than that of an engineer.’
Today’s featured wood engraving for Woodcut Wednesday is a ‘Great Spotted Woodpecker’ by Ian Stephens. It first appeared in Issue 51 of Slightly Foxed, where we featured a series of birds engraved by Ian.
‘Sword of Bone charmed me utterly. If I apply the tried-and-tested dinner party criteria of ‘Would I invite the author?’ the answer is a resounding yes. Anthony Rhodes’s tone is laconic, cultured, ironic and witty. A reader could dip at random into the book and come up with a bon mot or two . . .’
Our shelves may be somewhat overloaded but they’re firmly rooted to the floor so as to avoid any shelf-related disasters of the Hogarth Press variety . . . Do read on for an extract from this wonderful book and to follow, details of the new season’s offerings.
‘I have just opened my newly delivered Slightly Foxed and gone straight to the article about The Little Grey Men and Down the Bright Stream. It has brought back to me all the magical delight that my mother and I shared in reading them together. We had no hollow oak on our land but how I longed to live in one. Such yearnings don’t quite go away! I have just ordered the pair from SF. (Books that is, not hollow oaks).’
Once in a while, a special book reaches out through the wisps of time and demands to be read. John Moore’s Portrait of Elmbury was written in 1945 and recalls his corner of England during the first world war. It documents a country that was changing by the minute, a country that would never be the same again, for better or for worse . . .
We’re not busying ourselves with harvest this autumn, but with books to be packed, proofs to be checked, and new office puppies to be played with (of which, more news coming soon . . .) we might just need a rest under the apple tree by the end of the day. This is ‘Autumn’ by Simon Brett, which first appeared on the contents page of Slightly Foxed Issue 19.
‘The landscapes have such presence and resonance and charisma. I remember now that I liked to take this book with me on the remaining family holidays of my teenage years and in the hot, empty geometry of sky and swimming…
By the end of the 1980s, in my mid-twenties, I’d been through university, a stint of unemployment, a couple of tread-water jobs, and come to a halt, a despondent Is this it? Not knowing what I wanted or expected, I sent off a flare of speculative letters, and by a strange percolation of nerve and chance I got an interview, and then a job, at Faber . . .
This is a story about the last gnomes in Britain. They are honest-to-goodness gnomes, none of your baby, fairy-book tinsel stuff, and they live by hunting and fishing, like the animals and birds, which is only proper and right . . .
If you have read The Little Grey Men you will know all about Oak Tree House and the Stream People, and how three gnomes – Dodder (a lame gnome), Baldmoney and Sneezewort – went up the Folly Brook to look for their lost brother Cloudberry, and how they discovered him, after many adventures, fit and well and full of high spirits . . .
The middle volume of Adrian Bell’s inter-war farming trilogy, Silver Ley (1931), is, in its quiet, unassuming way, the most poignant memoir I think I have ever read. Picking up where his first book Corduroy left off, it opens in 1921 as Bell wakes up for the very first time on his own Suffolk farm, full of hope, with two newly bought heavy horses, Darkie and Dewdrop, stamping in the yard . . .
After graduating in Textile Art in Norwich Jemma Lewis worked for several years at a local bookbinding firm where she became fascinated with the marbled papers found on the binding of antiquarian books. She set up her own marbling business in 2009 and now works with her husband Craig in a purpose-built log cabin in their garden in Wiltshire. Their marbled papers are created by using traditional techniques, floating gouache paints on to a ‘size’ of carragheen moss, an Irish seaweed. They produce collections of both traditional and contemporary marbled papers, and often combine the two, using a modern-day palette to update historic designs.
We celebrated the launch of our autumn publications in the beautiful barn of Much Ado Books on a Saturday evening in September. Wine flowed, bookish chat filled the air, books flew off the shelves and tills rang as we toasted our new seasonal offerings.
Much Ado Books is an independent bookshop in Afriston, run by Cate Olsen and Nash Robbins, two Americans who decided to sell both new and old books in a medieval village in the heart of the Cuckmere Valley.
‘I recently bought four books from you with the intention of giving them away for Christmas. That will still happen but rather like a child in a sweet shop I have read them all myself first. Particularly enjoyed Christabel Bielenberg’s account on life in Nazi Germany.’ N. Law, Suffolk
‘I left the A303 and followed the A30 down a dead straight Roman road to Stockbridge then along the old drover’s road towards Salisbury. I began to recognise the distinctive local features, the gentle rolling hills, the trees silhouetted against the sky, and I knew I was entering Phipps country.’
During the afternoon of 27 May we were warned that a conference of all officers would be held at 6.30 that evening at which the colonel, who had just received instructions from the general, would unfold an important plan . . .
‘They shut the road through the woods/ Seventy years ago./ Weather and rain have undone it again,/ And now you would never know/ There was once a road through the woods . . .’
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the book of the film is usually rather better than the film itself, as Jane Austen certainly never said, but we like to think she would agree. Having not yet seen Christopher Nolan’s latest cinematic offering, Dunkirk, we shall have to reserve judgement on this occasion, but we can be absolutely certain that as memoirs from the Second World War go, and especially those related to Dunkirk, Anthony Rhodes’s Sword of Bone is outstanding.
These cheerful daisies adorned the contents page of Slightly Foxed Issue 38, Summer 2013. Ian Stephens was born in North Buckinghamshire in 1940. He studied illustration and lettering at Northampton School of Art and started engraving immediately on leaving . . .
Branwen Lucas explores the towns, villages and coast of Suffolk with Julian Tennyson’s Suffolk Scene, a ‘sparkling record of his love affair with this often neglected part of East Anglia’. Her article ‘Silly Suffolk’ appeared in Slightly Foxed Issue 23, and was illustrated by wonderful wood engravings of the county by Howard Phipps. This is the beach at Aldeburgh, Tennyson’s best-loved town.
‘I was thrilled to read Country Boy as I have been researching my family in Hardwick-cum-Weedon for about forty years – and had no idea that the book existed! I enjoyed the book hugely . . .’
‘When I got my last polite subscription reminder from you before Christmas . . . not only did I renew but I ordered two of your beautiful limited editions – 84, Charing Cross Road and The Real Mrs Miniver. I’m so very glad that I did . . . ‘
‘I have just received the three volumes that I ordered, Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School, Terms & Conditions and The Real Mrs Miniver. May I say how delighted I am with both the production and the quality of the items. As a long-term devotee of your magazine Slightly Foxed, I shall certainly be making further requests of your books in the future.’
The Carey Novels by Ronald Welch Slightly Foxed is one of life’s most wonderful pleasures. Their quarterly is always full of fascinating and interesting articles on books past and present and their own published books are also quirky and lovely…
Look back with Love – Dodie Smith A couple of years ago I reviewed a book called Kisses on a Postcard. I started the post by saying ‘this is a lovely lovely book’. I felt that was the only way I…
From the very first issue of Slightly Foxed we’ve championed the art of wood engraving as a form of book illustration and, over the years, have reproduced a wide variety of works by some of the best artists in the field. These richly detailed illustrations became so popular with our readers that we decided to give some of our favourite works a life outside the bounds of text illustration and, from the autumn 2014 issue, have run an occasional series of standalone features on engravers. This Tawny Owl by Kathleen Lindsley was the first to be featured in our Slightly Foxed wood engravers series.
‘I have just been reorganizing my library at home; not enough shelf space and totally disorganized. Now my SF magazines and books are in order on two shelves. This got me re-reading SF magazine no. 1; it brought back all the memories of when I got that first edition from you. I promptly went on to ABE Books and ordered second-hand copies of . . . ‘
‘Thanks for sending me the Alan Moorehead book. It’s the first one I’ve bought from Slightly Foxed and I am so impressed with its production. I also bought the Hilary Mantel memoir which I will be reading next. I’m hooked. Beautiful, well produced, well written. What’s not to like? Keep up the magnificent work.’
‘A friend gave me A Late Education for Christmas a few years ago and I loved it. Sitting in bed on Boxing day with a perfect book was my idea of heaven. She now gives me an edition every Christmas and I really look forward to my Christmas read.’
‘I’ve been meaning to enthuse in writing about your magazine and books for some time now. Just finished The Flame Trees of Thika and found it riveting, a wonderful evocation of the sights and sounds of Africa. Alan Moorehead is next…
‘I just wanted to include a quick note with my subscription renewal to say how highly I regard the publication. For me you are a beacon of civilisation in a world increasingly hostile to the book lover . . .
‘I absolutely loved Brensham Village. It is one of those books that gives the reader such a warm glow of contentment, in part because of the characters but also because of the beautiful observations and writing. Thank you for publishing it!’
‘Thank you to all at Slightly Foxed for the full set of Ronald Welch’s Carey novels you have produced over the last couple of years. I am enjoying working my way through them again and am very pleased to have finally completed my collection of these wonderful historical novels after 45 years. . .’
‘The book Knight Crusader by Ronald Welch tells the story of a young Squire called Philip who (later on in the book) becomes a knight . . .’
‘I’m sorry to say that I never made it to your office in Hoxton Square while visiting London back in March, but I have purchased two of your wonderful Slightly Foxed editions. They are lovely and the quality is what I expected it would be. I plan on ordering more books in the near future. I was curious how you chose your titles to print and how many titles you plan to make in the future. I think 100 would be a nice number, maybe ambitious but maybe you have plans for more. Lucky for the rest of us. Thank you for making these lovely books and here’s to good reading.’ E. Hanson, USA
‘Thanks to one and all for processing my book order. It arrived yesterday. As of yet, I have only unwrapped it, touched it, flipped the pages, but not read. The pinch of time has descended upon me, but it will pass and I will sit to read these fine stories. The books themselves are lovely to behold. Such a fine wrapping for the story within. Thank you again.’
‘Thanks for my free copy of Slightly Foxed. It arrived just before the weekend. I visited the website, subscribed to the mailing and am gradually falling in love with the stuff you have on offer.’ J.W. Wilkens, The Netherlands
‘I have enjoyed every issue of Slightly Foxed and delighted in the new authors I have come across as a result.’
Once a month or so throughout the year, we meet around the kitchen table here at No. 53 to discuss the all-important ins and outs of Slightly Foxed business. We pore over officious spreadsheets and schedules, mutter about analytics and databases, discuss logistics for our annual Readers’ Day, mull over binding cloth and endpaper colour combinations, and then rattle through marketing before getting down to the VIP business of jollity. And, what could be jollier than not one, but two summer wayzgooses?
‘I come to you today to sing the praises of something which restores the colour to the cheeks of the word “bookish”, namely the magazine called Slightly Foxed. Have you come across this? You have to keep your eyes open as it is a quarterly – the issues are Spring, Summer, etc – and is entirely dedicated to pieces by writers about other writers they have loved, or feel are neglected, or whom we may take for granted . . .
The Wyken Estate, just outside Bury St Edmunds, encompasses a vineyard, beautiful gardens, a restaurant, a café, a farmers’ market, an extensive country store and, notably, a bookshop. Carla Carlisle came to Wyken when she married her husband Kenneth in 1986. She set about diversifying the farm and it has thrived ever since.
This woodcut by C. F. Tunnicliffe illustrated Slightly Foxed Editor Hazel’s article on The Cherry TreeSF 54. Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe was born in Macclesfield in 1901. He grew up on a farm in Sutton around the wildlife which would later influence his work . . .
There is nothing ‘common-place’ about Pride and Prejudice. It has a tightly woven, seductively intricate plot, which unfolds so delicately that the reader falls blindly into the traps of imperception set by the author, alongside that most perfect of imperfect heroines, Elizabeth Bennet. It has dialogue which sparkles and sings in the most extraordinary way, so that characters come alive in only a few words. It has a hero and heroine who fence and fight and fall in love . . .
The writer Adrian Bell first arrived in Suffolk in 1920 – a delicate young would-be poet, fresh from public school at Uppingham and the polite drawing-rooms of Chelsea, under pressure from his father, who was news editor of the Observer, to get a proper job. He was, he says, ‘flying from the threat of office life’ when he first presented himself for work on the farm of an old-established farming family in the countryside near Bury St Edmunds.
‘Lettice Spragg has promised to invite you to tennis one Sunday. I confided my worries to her and read aloud your father’s latest letter.’ ‘Tennis!’ I was astounded . . .
I recall being mildly disappointed that the factory in Charlie and the Chocolate was not fashioned solely from chocolate. Now that literalism strikes me as peculiarly wonderful. And, in retrospect, it seems completely bound up in my enjoyment as a young boy of what was far and away my favourite Dahl title: Fantastic Mr Fox – a book that continues to colonize my consciousness, if in rather bastardized form.
“Most of Strunk’s injunctions repeat common and commonsense rules of grammar and syntax, though his hatred of the term ‘student body’ and his preference for ‘studentry’ after the example of ‘citizenry’ shows how usage is often personal and sometimes eccentric . . .
‘In clear and elegant prose he described how lanes and hedges, copses, farmsteads, fields and place names could tell the story of the past and explain the configuration of the present . . .’
Her name was Muriel Haidée Perry and she was born on 5 March 1890, or so I believed when I went to Somerset House to look up the registration of her birth. It wasn’t there. What I was really looking for – this was after she was dead and I had started to write about her – were the names of her parents. This was something that I had never been able to get her to tell me.
In a poem written near the end of his life, W. S. Graham imagined himself as a ‘wordy ghost’, ‘floating across the frozen tundra / of the lexicon and the dictionary’. Like Graham – like many people – I am also a ‘wordy ghost’, who loves haunting the pages of lexicons, dictionaries and glossaries. Unlike Graham I find the pages of such books to be not ‘frozen tundra’, sterile and barren – but fabulous forests, alive with delving word-roots and spreading canopies of connotation.
At this time of year, the build-up of desket syndrome at SF HQ is increasingly problematic, and the prospect of escaping the city for a dose of the natural world becomes more appealing by the day. High up on our current wish list of excursions is a day out at The Word-Hoard exhibition at William Wordsworth’s childhood home in the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth . . .
Most Slightly Foxed readers, we suspect, have some irritating gaps on their bookshelves left by favourite titles lent and never returned. A personal bookplate is an elegant and practical way of solving the problem, and would make a very handsome present for a bookworm or provide an excellent incentive to do that sort-out of your own books that you’ve long had in mind. This fine fox by Sue Scullard is one of eight designs available.
We celebrated the launch of our special limited edition of The Cherry Tree, the final book in Adrian Bell’s celebrated trilogy of Suffolk country life between the wars, at Harris & Harris Books in Clare on a sunny summer’s evening in July.
Mark Valentine explored the Isles and wild seas with Robert Atkinson in his article on Island Going in Slightly Foxed Issue 50, beautifully illustrated by Paul Kershaw’s woodcut of Stac Lee, home to part of the world’s largest colony of northern gannet.
In V. S. Pritchett’s wonderful memoir of his childhood and youth, A Cab at the Door, ‘VSP’, as his friends called him, grew up in the shadow of a father whom his own son, our regular contributor Oliver, describes as very like Dickens’s Mr Micawber – expansive, extravagant, insanely optimistic, always certain that ‘something would turn up’. Usually it didn’t – hence the ‘cab at the door’, waiting to bear the family quietly away from another clutch of creditors . . .
I shall always be grateful to A Cab at the Door. I read most of it one Sunday evening in a Victoria line tube train which was stuck for two hours outside King’s Cross station. The train lights dimmed and instead of the Blitz spirit a sullen, twitchy silence set in. I was spectacularly lucky in my companion. The sheer vigour of V. S. Pritchett’s writing and his benign, shrewd storyteller’s voice kept me suspended in his Edwardian boyhood until ‘the juice’, as the panic-stricken driver called it, came back on and we trundled away at last.
‘When you see your Crocuses wide open in flower sally forth with a stick of sealing-wax or the amber mouthpiece of an old pipe in your hand . . . Rub whichever of the two unusual accompaniments of a garden stroll you have chosen, on your coat-sleeve if it be woollen, and hold the rubbed portion as soon as possible after ceasing rubbing near the anthers of an open Crocus, and you will find the electricity thereby generated will cause the pollen grains to fly up to the electrified object, and, what is more, to stick there, but so lightly that directly they are rubbed against the stigma of another Crocus they will leave the amber and be left where you, and Nature before you, intended them to be.’ Essential instructions from E. A. Bowles . . . if you were wondering how to pollinate crocuses. Ursula Buchan introduced us to the green-fingered Bowles in her article on My Garden in Spring, which was featured in Issue 33 of Slightly Foxed and was illustrated by this woodcut from Rosalind Bliss.
The trees are in full deep green leaf now, making a small oasis of Hoxton Square, while not fifty yards away the traffic roars past along Old Street. New regulations to cut down air pollution in London are on the way we learn, but now the fumes hang heavily in the summer air as we make for the office, dodging people coming in the other direction who seem to be talking to themselves but are actually on their mobile phones. As Jane Austen’s great hypochondriac Mr Woodhouse observes, ‘Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.’ For many of us these days it’s a hurrying, worrying world . . .
‘Strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of. “The best fruit in England — every body’s favourite — always wholesome. — These the finest beds and finest sorts. — Delightful to gather for one’s self — the only way of really enjoying them — delicious fruit — only too rich to be eaten much of — inferior to cherries — currants more refreshing — only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping — glaring sun . . .“’
We’re thrilled to see so much recognition for The Return, which has also won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award at the PEN America Literary Awards.
How long had I been standing here under the old cherry tree? Minutes or years? While the storm with its batteries of thunder deployed across the sky, letting fall but a few drops – for all its growling – which the boughs above me caught and shook till they sparkled . . .
‘One blazing sunny afternoon he finds himself for some inexplicable reason playing a game of croquet. He is a poor player up against a very good one, but he takes this as a pretext to expound a philosophy in celebration of the loser. ‘It is only we who play badly who love the Game itself . . .
‘There’s something inspiring about the way he comes to write Tarka by a kind of deep immersion – plunging himself into the creature’s habits and habitats, crawling through spinneys and splashing through rivers to get an otter’s-eye view of the world . . .’
‘If you’ve read 84, Charing Cross Road, you’ll appreciate that Helene Hanff’s trip to London, the city of her literary dreams is the realization of a life-long ambition . . .
‘Slightly Foxed Editions are perfectly designed to curl up with – neat, sturdy little hardbacks, just the right size to hold in the hand and with a ribbon marker to keep your place. More important still, they’re wonderful reads –…
Our travelling bookworm Katy Macmillan-Scott left Vienna this weekend and, having picked up the necessary pastries to keep her going, set out on a two day trek onward to Bratislava . . .
‘All happy families resemble one another,’ said Tolstoy, rather sweepingly, ‘but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ The Anna Karenina principle has so long been taken for a truism one hesitates to disagree, but on reading Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles it occurred to me that there’s no such thing as a happy family – how could there be? – and that if there were, it would be a most unsatisfactory subject for a novel.
Summer has arrived at No. 53 Hoxton Square with the publication of the 54th issue of Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly and our 38th limited edition hardback, Adrian Bell’s The Cherry Tree. In the weeks preceding the Bank Holiday, the good people of…
Early copies of the Summer issue of Slightly Foxed have arrived in Hoxton Square, ready to be sent out to subscribers and bookshops all around the world in time for its release on 1 June. We don’t want to spoil…
‘Swift knows about containment and spillage. It’s the basic dynamic of her garden. In summer the plants billow out over the clipped box hedges that mark the borders, and roses ramble profusely away from their arbours. In winter, with the disappearance of summer’s temporary improvisations, the straight lines of the garden are revealed, dark evergreen and brown.’ Alexandra Harris wrote of the joy of reading Katherine Swift’s The Morville Hours in Issue 50, accompanied by Geri Waddington’s wonderful woodcut.
Listen to Robert Macfarlane reading from The Gifts of Reading. Recorded especially for Adventures for Harriet: a 600-mile literary pilgrimage across Europe by foot.
After a first faraway glimpse, the two famous steeples grew taller and taller as the miles that separated us fell away . . .
After a chilly night in a converted barn on a small organic farm near Ophemert, our literary adventurer hit the road again this morning, to continue her journey in the footprints of Patrick Leigh Fermor. This tantalizing scene of blue…
The woman who walks properly embodies the poetry of motion, harmony of poise, and that scientific adjustment of the whole frame which bespeaks physical health and grace. In walking, the upper part of the body should be held erect, and…
Our lady adventurer Katy MacMillan-Scott is back on the road after a night in the beautiful home of a friend’s mother’s piano teacher…
This woodcut by Howard Phipps, ‘Salisbury Watermeadows’ from Bemerton Rectory, home of the poet George Herbert, first appeared on the contents page of Slightly Foxed Issue 18 in Summer 2008, but more recently we made it available to readers as one of our bookplates.
So wrote Patrick Leigh Fermor about walking the riverways from Gorinchem to Zaltbommel in 1933. Despite the flat skies and relentless drizzle, our foxy foreign correspondent at large has had a couple of high peaks on today’s route.
Snow covered everything and the flakes blew in a slant across the cones of the lamps and confused the glowing discs that spaced out the untrodden quay. I hadn’t known that Rotterdam was a few miles inland. I was still the only passenger in the train and this solitary entry, under cover of night and hushed by snow, completed the illusion that I was slipping into Rotterdam, and into Europe, through a secret door . . .
One of the first things Leigh Fermor is given in A Time of Gifts is a book: the first volume of the Loeb edition of Horace. His mother (‘she was an enormous reader’) bought it for him as a farewell…
About lamplighting time at the end of a wet November day, I was peering morosely at the dog-eared pages on my writing table and then through the panes at the streaming reflections of Shepherd Market, thinking, as Night and Day…
‘When I read Robert Macfarlane’s beautiful essay, The Gifts of Reading – which is about friendship, giving books, and the cathartic power of walking – a plan crystallised in my mind to go on an adventure Harriet would have loved.’…
Watch a short video of our intrepid bookworm Katy MacMillan-Scott talking about her upcoming adventure in the footsteps of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Before moving to Hoxton Square, the Foxed den was in Clerkenwell, and Farringdon was our local tube stop. This woodcut of the station by Sasa Marinkov was featured in Slightly Foxed Issue 13, in Spring 2007.
The happiest days of your life? This week in the Spectator Books Podcast, Sam Leith talks to our author Ysenda Maxtone Graham, ‘whose Terms and Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding Schools, 1939-1979, is a shrewd history of the fluctuating jollity…
‘Harriet and I read about so many pioneering women and it had started to inspire me . . . Harriet had an inquisitive curiosity about the world, and I did too . . . something, aside from our love of…
Today’s woodcut first appeared on the contents page of Slightly Foxed Issue 33 in Spring 2012. Rosalind Bliss is a landscape artist based in the UK. She learned the rudiments of wood engraving from her father, the painter and art conservationist Douglas Percy Bliss, but went on to train as mural painter at Edinburgh College of Art. Later in life she turned again to engraving, working as a book illustrator and designing bookplates. She lives in Derbyshire, and is still producing paintings, wood engravings and murals, which she paints on to folding screens.
‘His descriptions are precise in every line, shaded so cleverly that the whole ninety pages work on you like a painting by Seurat. The dabs of colour are pretty enough – but stand back and there lies an entire landscape . . .’ wrote Gee Williams in A World of Shining Beauty, an article on John Masefield’s 1966 memoir Grace before Ploughing from Slightly Foxed, Issue 33. While there may not be dabs of colour in this week’s wood engraving, Peter Reddick has beautifully captured this rural landscape of rolling hills and spring meadows.
There has been more fantastic news for Hisham Matar, winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2016, as he has won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
‘I have recently started a magazine series, whereby I feature a range of printed publications in order to revitalise the printed word . . . This month I have chosen something a little different to my other publications in order…
The Biographers’ Club is now accepting submissions for The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2017. The Prize of £2,500 will be awarded to the best book by a first-time biographer . . .
It seems that spring has finally sprung and the bluebells and crocuses are out in full bloom. We long to see some snake’s head fritillary out in Hoxton Square, but alas will have to make do with Yvonne Skargon’s wonderful wood engraving, taken from Slightly Foxed Issue 41, Spring 2014.
As well as four printed issues each year, your subscription includes digital access to the full archive on your computer, laptop, iPad, phone, or other e-reader . . .
As well as four printed issues each year, your subscription includes preferential prices for all books and goods listed here on our website . . .
If a book featured in Slightly Foxed is listed as out of print, we will do our best to obtain a copy for subscribers on request . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers will receive a 10% discount at The Suffolk Anthology, an independent bookshop in the beautiful Suffolks area of Cheltenham . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers will receive a 10% discount at One Tree Books, an independent bookshop in Petersfield, Hampshire . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers will receive a 10% discount at Much Ado Books, an independent bookshop in Alfriston, East Sussex . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers receive 2-for-1 adult entry to the John Moore Museum and Old Baptist Chapel . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers receive 2-for-1 adult entry to the William Wordsworth house, garden and exhibitions . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers can enjoy a 50% discount on annual membership to LIBRARY, a beautifully designed private members club . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers will receive a discounted membership to The London Library, enjoying 12 months for the price of 11 . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers can enjoy membership to the Royal Society of Literature for £45 a year instead of £50 . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers will receive a 10% discount on accommodation at Gladstone’s Library . . .
Slightly Foxed subscribers receive a 10% discount on all Living Room Literature courses . . .
Hisham Matar, winner of The Biographers’ Club Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2016, has won the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for his memoir The Return at the PEN America Literary Awards.
We love wood engravings and in the printed quarterly we have an occasional series to introduce the work of some of our favourite engravers. We’ll be sharing a woodcut from our archive on the website each week, and hope you’ll enjoy them.
Now the year has turned and the bluebells and crocuses are bravely weathering the winds whipping around Hoxton Square, we’re looking forward hopefully. So far the year is shaping up to be another most enjoyable one. We’ve sent the summer issue…
Spring, with its sweet shoots, plans and prospects, is upon us at No. 53, Hoxton Square. Slightly Foxed Issue 53 and our two new books, Hilary Mantel’s Giving up the Ghost and Ronald Welch’s Sun of York, should by now…
Oliver Akers Douglas, described by the critic Matthew Dennison as ‘the foremost landscape painter of his generation’, is best known for his dramatic interpretations of the English landscape. He works from life, using a Land Rover with a large easel welded to the side.
‘In this episode, I’m interviewing the writer Ysenda Maxtone Graham on her recently published book, Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding Schools, 1939-1979. I read this book after being invited to Ysenda’s book launch at Daunt Books, and once…
‘Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly has been around for 13 years and its articles do not have a definite angle. The purpose of the literary magazine is to provide readers with engaging introductions to pieces of literature. Many of…
‘Maxtone Graham’s book – with, I should add, my favourite title of the year; I love an artfully-constructed pun – is rigorously unacademic. There is no index, and there are no footnotes . . .
We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Biographers’ Club Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2016 is Hisham Matar for The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between.
Old Girls and Very Old Girls Ordinarily at this time of year the Slightly Foxed office would be a haven of calm. With the autumn quarterly behind us and a month to go until the winter issue and SFE are…
Not surprisingly, the highest selling novel was Robert Harris’s Conclave, but the splendid dark horse has been Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939-1979, published by Slightly Foxed . . .
As part of a series of summer events to mark 50 years since John Moore’s death, as well as 110 years since his birth in Tewkesbury, we visited the John Moore Museum and set up shop in the Old Baptist Chapel on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.
Ysenda Maxtone Graham spoke alongside writers Martin Bell and Clover Stroud over a three-course literary lunch at the Savile Club on 6 June.
The author of Terms & Conditions was in conversation with Slightly Foxed editor, Hazel Wood.
Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood, editors of Slightly Foxed, spoke at St George’s Church Hall on Friday 5 May as part of the Chichester Literary Society’s programme of talks and events.
‘Lashings of jolly japes, inedible food, schoolgirl crushes . . . but no education! A captivating book reveals what really used to happen at girls’ boarding schools. Author Ysenda Maxtone Graham tells us about her bestselling book: Terms & Conditions: Life…
We celebrated the launch of the Spring issue of Slightly Foxed and Slightly Foxed Edition no. 37, Hilary Mantel’s haunting memoir Giving up the Ghost . . .
When I first read A Time of Gifts I felt it in my feet. It spoke to my soles. It rang with what in German is called Sehnsucht: a yearning or wistful longing for the unknown and the mysterious. It…
This is the London Review of Books for fireside book worms – unadulterated bookish pleasure on every page and almost certain joy for those of us who love the gems to be found in the hallowed spaces of independent bookshops old and new and cosy libraries.
I went to a girls’ boarding-school in 1972. It was only for an afternoon. I’d been staying with a friend for half-term and we stopped on our way into London to drop her older sister back at school. I can’t remember which it was. Wycombe Abbey? Cobham Hall? Or Benenden, then of matchless fame for the education of Princess Anne? Though I’d never actually been inside a boarding-school, I knew all about them from books like Third Form at Malory Towers by the evidence-based historian, as I supposed she was, Enid Blyton.
If you’re already one of our subscribers, we know we needn’t tell you about the pleasures of Slightly Foxed. But if you’re a new reader or are considering taking out a subscription, for yourself or as a gift for a booklover,…
This vivid study of life at girls’ boarding schools between 1939 and 1979 is both hilarious and poignant, finds Maggie Fergusson. Women who have been to boarding schools,’ writes Ysenda Maxtone Graham, ‘live with flashbacks both joyous and nightmarish.’ reading…
As you may have seen from recent newsletters, this spring at Slightly Foxed we’re championing the brave and intrepid bibliophile Katy Macmillan-Scott as she embarks on a great literary adventure in memory of her spirited and adventurous friend Harriet. We…
Country Life Book of the Week ‘The most brilliant, hilarious book’ India Knight ‘Probably my book of the year’ Rupert Christiansen ‘When I asked a group of girls who had been at Hatherop Castle in the 1960s whether the school…
‘Somewhere, sometime, in the not-so-distant past, someone mentioned something about Slightly Foxed, and whatever it was that that someone said intrigued me, so I looked it up – and subscribed almost immediately . . .’
The year is almost over, and what a year it’s been – from a sad goodbye to our bookshop in January to a very jolly 50th issue celebration in June. Now we’re delighted to be ending our 13th year on a high with a…
A happy New Year to all our readers around the world! We hope you’ve had a restful break, with plenty of reading time. The foxes certainly did, and are now back at their desks feeling relaxed and ready for another…
The Sunday Times Magazine
Ysenda Maxtone Graham recalls the appalling food, cold dorms and stern matrons of her all-girls boarding school in the 1970s – and says it did her the world of good . . .
‘When I asked a group of girls who had been at Hatherop Castle in the 1960s whether the school had had a lab in those days they gave me a blank look. “A laboratory?” I expanded, hoping to jog their…
Brensham Village, the latest volume from the Slightly Foxed Editions series that I love so dearly, is a sort of sequel to Portrait of Elmbury, also published by Slightly Foxed – indeed, it is apparently the middle of a trilogy.…
‘Thank you SF once again for all the pleasure you give – and if we ARE headed for Hell in a handcart, I hope it will be well-stocked with past issues of your life-enhancing magazine.’
‘You feed my anglophile, book long, appreciator of the off-the-beaten-track soul. Reading SF takes me back to living in London in the ’70s’
Bookworm problems; cleaning bookshelves and reorganizing my books and realizing there are way more piles of books left over than there’s room on the shelves… ? Time to decide if I want to get rid of some books or not…
I was able to acquire several back issues of the @foxedquarterly journal… hubby may have exceeded baggage restrictions. All worth it though. Think of all the wealth of literature I get to read about and share with you too ?.…
Anna and Olivia have had the good fortune to visit many bookshops up and down the country throughout their time at Slightly Foxed, but their latest venture took them across the Channel . . . Bleary-eyed and bearing Slightly Foxed…
‘Every December, I attend an Old Girls reunion and Christmas carol service for my old school. It’s a fun event and I always meet the most interesting women.
There’s the Olympian with stories about her time in Brazil this summer, the children’s book author who I adored growing up, the researchers doing amazing work in their labs, and the retirees who now travel the world after lives spent in law, medicine or academia. It’s a circle I take for granted much of the time but always appreciate reconnecting with around the holidays. It is also a chance to cuddle babies of younger alum while eating cookies with the school logo on them – a win-win, really . . .’
It is generally thought that Stella Gibbons was mocking Mary Webb’s Precious Bane when she wrote Cold Comfort Farm, but she was probably having a pop at all those purveyors of country hardship, sex, doom and slop, Hardy and Lawrence included. One can easily tire of the lush, dripping, thrusting, tragic, moist, fecund countryside, and long for a brisk young woman from the tough pavements of town like Flora Poste to come along and tidy things up a bit . . .
In 1989 I was commissioned to write and present a programme about the Phoney War for BBC Radio 4. My research took me to the Imperial War Museum’s sound archives and the testimony of a Dunkirk veteran called Anthony Rhodes, who was commissioned into the Royal Engineers shortly before Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939. At that stage I’d no idea Rhodes had written a book about his experiences, but what he had to say on tape was exemplary . . .
Slightly Foxed Issues 1 – 48 standing smartly to attention in their handsome grey slipcases. Clean and crisp and even on the outside but a riot of eccentricity, personality, good writing and a whole load of recommendations for eclectic and…
I ❤️ Sunday mornings. #slightlyfoxed #foxedquarterly #books #bookstagram #bibliophile #bookish #bookworm #igreads #reading #coffee A photo posted by Heather (@heather_reads) on Jul 9, 2016 at 5:46pm PDT
The long-awaited golden days of ‘in the summer, when it’s quiet’ have finally arrived in our usually bustling little office here in Hoxton Square. Ozalids for the autumn issue and our next books have been approved and sent off up…
We are delighted to hear that Hisham Matar, winner of the 2016 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize for The Return has been longlisted for this year’s Orwell Prize for Books. ‘The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political…
… @FoxedQuarterly you are such a class act! pic.twitter.com/LdYjGckdI7 — Rosemary Raughter (@rraughter) July 29, 2016
Situated in the seaside town of Aldeburgh, this handsome red bookshop looks out over the North Sea and welcomes book-seeking locals and visiting tourists all year round.
Few bookshops in London have the density of books, informed staff or seductive atmosphere to compare with John Sandoe’s. We asked Johnny, who was a regular contributor to Slightly Foxed in its early days, to talk to us about this distinguished independent bookshop.
Nic and Juliette Bottomley have created a bright and relaxing place in the heart of Bath in which to browse and buy books, and will always provide a warm welcome.
This utterly bookish blog by Slightly Foxed subscriber Arpita is packed with reviews and lovely photos. ‘Armchair traveling around the world, one book at a time. Greetings from Massachusetts, USA. My name is Arpita and I love being stuck in…
A well-written, thoughtful and wide-ranging book review blog by editor and lifelong booklover Lori. ‘I try to do a review each Friday, with sometimes another post of some sort during the week. I have a special love for the book as…
After the events of the past few months, we must admit that, though extremely cheerful and optimistic, we’re also feeling a bit ruminative here in the office. Somehow the timeless and civilizing things we hope Slightly Foxed stands for seem more important than ever at a moment of change like this. We hope, anyway, that with the arrival of this autumn issue you can relax, draw the curtains – actual or metaphorical – and, as one of our American readers recently described it, ‘breathe a sigh of relief and slip into a world of thoughtfulness and good humor’.
The new quarter is upon us and, as befits the start of the new school year, we’re thrilled to welcome two new young foxes to the fold. Hattie and Stanley are both most charming, inquisitive, intelligent and cheering and are…
Meteorologically speaking, summer is still in full swing. But here at SF the new quarter waits not for the weather, so in a few days’ time we’ll be launched in to autumn with its bumper crop of new books and literary treasures. The…
Emily’s Walking Book Club chose My Grandmothers and I for their July read. It strikes me as a surprisingly common, though little remarked upon, fact that one’s grandparents form two very different pairs. I suppose this seems especially pronounced if…
The Adrian Bell Society came into being in 1996 with the aim of encouraging a wider interest and appreciation in the life and works of Adrian Bell. The Society holds at least two meetings each year, publishes two Journals, and…
We had quite a celebration for our tenth anniversary in 2014 and now this summer we’ve reached what feels to us like another significant milestone – our 50th issue. You could say Slightly Foxed has reached middle age, but it still has a spring in its step and we enjoy putting it together as much now as we did when four of us sat round the kitchen table (one of us holding a baby who is now at secondary school) and planned the first issue . . .
The Young Visiters was published in 1919 but written in 1890, when its author was 9. It appeared with a Preface by J. M. Barrie and with the manuscript’s many spelling mistakes faithfully reproduced. Within two years it had sold 230,000 copies, given rise to a stage play, and caused a rumpus in literary London. It has never been out of print since. This is an exceptional record for a slight work. Why was The Young Visiters so popular and why does it endure?
This is ‘Digging’ by Miriam Macgregor – a woodcut we like so much, we’ve featured it twice! First in Issue 10 back in 2006 to illustrate Tim Longville’s article on Henry Mitchell’s The Essential Earthman, and then again for the contents page of Issue 35 in 2013 . . .
Alice Pattullo lives and works in East London. She explores British traditions, folklore and superstitions in her personal work, producing limited-edition screen prints for exhibition and sale.
Born in 1974, Mark Hearld studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art and then completed an MA in Natural History Illustration at the Royal College of Art. Taking his inspiration from the flora and fauna of the British countryside, he works across a number of mediums, producing limited-edition lithographic and linocut prints, paintings, collages and hand-painted ceramics. He has completed commissions for Faber & Faber, Tate Museums and Walker Books. In 2012 Merrell Books published Mark Hearld’s Work Book – the first book devoted to Mark’s work.
Olivia is a professional artist. In recent years she has also worked on illustration after being commissioned to design and illustrate a book for Michael and Clare Morpurgo with Templar Publishing. This was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2014 and nominated for the International Biennale of Illustration in Bratislava. Olivia lives and works in Northumberland, with her husband, a paper conservator, with whom she shares a dedicated print and conservation studio.
Do you treasure ancient paperbacks, spines gone, pages browning, brittle and crumbling, held together (or not quite) with perished elastic bands, simply because you also treasure the memories they evoke as much by their physical appearance as by their contents?
Do you treasure ancient paperbacks, spines gone, pages browning, brittle and crumbling, held together (or not quite) with perished elastic bands, simply because you also treasure the memories they evoke as much by their physical appearance as by their contents? . . .
In uncertain times there’s nothing more comforting or diverting than a good book, and sometimes there’s nothing else for it but to pick up a well-thumbed favourite and settle down for a dose of escapism. So without further ado, we…
When he came home of an evening, we went through an unchanging ritual. Hanging on the gate, I could tell the shape of him as he cruised the last half-mile along the Brighton Road on the Ariel. Just our side of Chandler’s Corner he would switch off the petrol for the sake of economy and freewheel silently the rest of the way, having judged his impetus so exactly that the merest touch of the brakes would halt him after the front wheel bumped over the kerb. The bike would be wheeled into the outhouse, suddenly full of the stirring odour of hot oil and the clicking of cooling metal. And then, in the kitchen, even had I been blindfolded, I could have recognised him; for he brought into the house an entire anthology of smells I associated with nobody else . . .
Time for a spot of Father's Day present wrapping. There's nothing more satisfying than sending out bookish joy around the world! Oh and there's still time to subscribe or buy books as presents for a dear Dad this Sunday so…
This is my first edition by Slightly Foxed – I found it in Heffers on Saturday and fell in love. It was well worth spending my book token on! This is The House of Elrig by Gavin Maxwell who also…
For readers in search of something bookish to give to a father this coming 19 June, we can highly recommend our beautifully bound Slightly Foxed Edition of The High Path. In this prizewinning memoir Ted Walker recreates with unusual vividness…
We absolutely love this photo of a very dapper young reader channeling his best ‘Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School’ look for SS ’16 before going off to school this morning. Model: Sam – Age 10 ¼ Art Director: Katy – Age 30 (&…
A few months before his thirteenth birthday, the young and miserable Gavin Maxwell crept out of St Wulfric’s prep school to send a ‘thoroughly hysterical’ letter to his mother. At the end of it he wrote, ‘For God’s sake take me away from this awful place.’ She answered his plea, and he was whisked away in the middle of the Spring term, ‘a quaking jelly of misery and self-pity’. He went straight home, to the House of Elrig – the house he grew up in on the edge of the vast Monreith estate in Galloway, surrounded by woods and peat bogs and heather. I was also a quaking jelly at school. I would long for the holidays, when we would pack up and drive to Scotland, to be dragged through ever thicker rain in search of ever rarer birds. My friends saw the sun in August. I saw the Shetland wren. So I find Maxwell’s books deeply comforting: none more so than The House of Elrig (1965), which describes in lucid detail the impossible social awkwardness of school, and the irresistible freedom of the natural world . . .
All of Aickman’s tales (he wrote 48 in all) include some kind of supernatural element. ‘Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal’ is a vampire story, ‘Ringing the Changes’ is a zombie story, others feature ghostly visitants of various kinds. But that in itself is not what is strange about them. The characters are strange. The events are strange. The scenarios are strange. It’s hard to convey the special, unsettling atmosphere of Aickman’s work to anyone who isn’t acquainted with it; but let me try . . .
Her Edit is a free online magazine for women celebrating independent, free thinking women, the inspiring things they do and the remarkable things they achieve . . . Her Edit was born almost three years ago out of the frustration of…
It’s always strange to think how easily you might not have met that someone: a bus that arrived on time, or a last drink at the bar, and it might all have been quite different. Our meetings with books can be equally subject to fluke. I was in the queue at Barter Books in Alnwick, a clutch of holiday reading under my arm, when for no reason at all I picked up a green Virago paperback: The Diaries of Sylvia Townsend Warner
Summer has arrived at Slightly Foxed! The 50th issue of The Real Reader’s Quarterly will be dropping on to subscribers’ doormats across the world over the next few days, just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK.…
It’s hard to believe autumn is here already. But the days are shortening, the air is growing brisker, and gradually the city is coming to life again as people trickle back after the long summer break. London is back in business, and it’s all go here in the Slightly Foxed office, with the latest of the Slightly Foxed Editions and Slightly Foxed Cubs arriving from the printers, and some new projects afoot.
New this autumn in the Slightly Foxed Cubs series.
It is 1853, and on holiday in Italy, Captain Nicholas Carey is persuaded by his impulsive cousin Andrew to help three Italian revolutionaries avoid capture and escape the Papal States. After returning to England, Nicholas runs his cousin to earth in Paris, where he is still involved with the revolutionaries, and the two foil an assassination attempt on the Emperor, Napoleon III. More . . .
Jeremy Lewis, a well-loved figure of the literary world and a friend of Slightly Foxed, died in April 2017 aged 75. He was a man of letters through and through, and his long career included early bouts of publishing, writing…
China in 1975 was a strange, undiscovered country, still half-mad from Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, when young Frances Wood boarded a plane in London to study for a year in Peking. Based on the letters she wrote home, this account of her experiences is both affecting and hilarious, a unique insight into a mysterious and painful moment in China’s history. More . . .
It’s hard to believe autumn is here already. But the days are shortening, the air is growing brisker, and gradually the city is coming to life again as people trickle back after the long summer break. The autumn issue should now have arrived with subscribers near and far and we do hope you’re all enjoying it. We so enjoy the flurry of interaction with readers that comes in the wake of the new issue so if you have any thoughts or comments (good or bad) please do write in . . .
On a bright Thursday afternoon earlier this month, the Foxed office shut up shop and hopped on a train to Cambridge. We were off on a jaunt to Heffers Bookshop to launch the latest issue of Slightly Foxed and the…
‘What makes Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly so great? As I perused the latest issue, I realized that in many ways it’s exactly what I wish my blog to be, and what I appreciate about other blogs. Each issue contains around a dozen and a half essays in which readers of many stripes celebrate books that have moved, enlightened, impressed, or astonished them. The selection of titles is wonderfully eclectic, blithely leaping over barriers of genre, subject matter, language, geography, target age, and publication date . . .
‘A wonderful introduction into the world of independent bookselling’
Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge has been a Foxed favourite for decades, before Slightly Foxed was even a notion. Members of our team have previously lived, studied and worked in Cambridge. In fact, our Editor Gail Pirkis and Publicity Manager Steph Allen worked at Heffers itself and have fond memories of their time there . . .
The first week of September contains a red-letter day in my literary world, as does the beginning of December, March, and June. Four times a year the new edition of Slightly Foxed drops through the letter box and the rest of that particular day is given over to delving in and out of its 96 luxurious cream pages and making a list of out-of-print books that I never before knew existed but which I now MUST READ.
Issue number 47, Autumn 2015, which arrived last week is no exception . . .
Gail Brodholt is a painter and linocut printmaker of the contemporary urban landscape. Much of her work depicts the London transport network and the journeys made across the city on tubes and trains. She is a Fellow of the Royal…
We were already delighted when the McLean & Eakin bookshop in Petoskey, Michigan started stocking Slightly Foxed and now, with this glowing recommendation from bookseller Julie, we’re even happier!
‘S.F. is published in the U.K. It is of the perfect size for reading in a cramped fisherman’s tent, train or a comfortably squashy bed. The lay-out is stylish and the small magazine has a lovely tactile quality. The illustrations are wonderfully clever . .
It’s all quiet on the foxing front in the office this month as we await the arrival of the new quarter. Tracey and Don from our Yorkshire printers have twice been to visit with a wagonload of autumn publications and…
Summer is in full swing here at Slightly Foxed. The June issue of the quarterly has traveled far and wide to subscribers all over the globe and whether you too are off to far-flung places this summer, or simply staying at home, we…
‘My mother was rather unlike other children’s mothers in her ways, but though she could be embarrassing I was quite proud of her, and of my father too, because they were bold and good-looking. I should not have liked the funny-looking parents who fussed about everything that some children had.’
Gentlemen: Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase ‘antiquarian booksellers’ scares me somewhat, as I equate ‘antique’ with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books . . .
‘A completely enchanting bookshop, Slightly Foxed (previously The Gloucester Road Bookshop, owned by Graham Greene’s nephew) is an independent bookshop gem. Little square windows, breezy awning and a tiny and unintrusive bell over the door that alerts you to your…
Clare Halifax has a BA Hons in printed textile design and an MA in multi-disciplinary printmaking. The inspiration for her work comes from the buildings that surround her and nostalgic reminiscences of places and items of interest. Within each image,…
We’ve had a soft spot for Topping & Company, Bath since it opened in 2007 with an outstanding team of booksellers including Saber Khan and Kathleen Smith. Kathleen was a founding member of Slightly Foxed and has taken her unique blend of energy and creativity to run a vibrant series of events for Topping & Co. Kathleen also happens to be married to one of our favourite book designers and illustrators – the talented James Nunn who created many of the foxes that adorn the covers of our quarterly.
It’s always cheering to turn over the first leaf of our calendar, and even more so this year after a funny old January here at Slightly Foxed. Thank you to everyone who wrote in about the closure of our Gloucester…
Updated 25 January 2016: The bookshop has now closed. We’ve loved having our bookshop on Gloucester Road. Since we took it over in 2009 it’s been a repository of good reads, a relaxing place to browse, and the scene of…
Almost every morning of their lives the weather-wise people of Elmbury lift up their eyes to glance at Brensham Hill which rises solitary out of the vale, four miles away as the crow flies . . .
Among the small horde of papers Diana Petre left me as her literary executor when she died in 2001 was a folder labelled: ‘Excuses. Lies. Evasions. Deceits.’ I thought at first that it might contain further notes about her mother, whose unhappy story is so brilliantly told in The Secret Orchard of Roger Ackerley and whose attempts to hold on to her many secrets involved all these ploys. In fact, it merely contained material Diana had collected for an anthology she once thought of compiling about the ways in which people get out of awkward or unwanted social engagements . . .
‘This time last year, I made a New Year’s resolution to give up my appalling Amazon habit. What with one-click ordering it had become fantasy shopping, clicking on Penguins as if they were penny sweets. I was spending hundreds of…
The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and our little team in Hoxton Square is happily beavering away in preparation for the new quarter. The spring issue has been selling like the proverbial hot cakes (we’re about to order a…
By now most of us have probably begun the often rather agonized run-up to Christmas – the worry about what to buy for whom and where to find it. For Slightly Foxed readers, we suspect books are likely to feature somewhere in that list. Quite recently we read a piece by The Times columnist Jenni Russell bemoaning the fact that so many disappointing books by well-known writers are ludicrously overpromoted these days. Publishing, she wrote, ‘doesn’t prioritize what’s good, it prioritizes what’s new’.
As everyone who lives here knows, spring in London doesn’t just signal daffodils in window boxes and budding trees in squares. It signals building projects. The whole city seems to be in a state of upheaval – ‘streets broken through and stopped; deep pits and trenches dug in the ground; enormous heaps of earth and clay thrown up . . . piles of scaffolding, and wildernesses of bricks’. That sounds like today, but in fact it’s Dickens in Dombey and Son describing the coming of the railway to Camden Town. London is forever changing and it’s certainly doing so now around the Slightly Foxed office in Hoxton Square – still fortunately a small haven of quiet, though only a few minutes’ walk from the gleaming office blocks of the new ‘Tech City’ rising around Old Street tube station . . .
I thought I could never feel fond of Charing Cross Road. In 1988, when I was 23, I spent a miserable three months there doing a ‘Sight and Sound’ typing course on the bleak first floor of a building next to the Garrick Theatre. Secretarial instruction was delivered over headphones to classrooms full of women and as I tried to follow the disembodied tutorials my fingers kept slipping and jamming between the keys of a hefty, black manual typewriter.
The whole vale was carpeted with bloom under a dappled sky. It was a late season; the trees had all come out together, ten million, twenty million boughs had burgeoned on the same blue-and-white April morning. The flowery tide ran…
We’re in the process of adding profiles of all our contributors to the noticeboard. Meantime, follow this link for an index to Issues 1-59 of the quarterly: An Index to Slightly Foxed
As a fan of early jazz, I’ve read a great deal about Kansas City as it was in the 1930s. A most attractive place it seems in retrospect, of twenty-four-hour drinking and gambling, to the accompaniment of wonderful music provided by young, prodigiously talented and mostly black instrumentalists and singers; a wide-open city ruled over by a corrupt mayor, Boss Pendergast, whose main duty seems to have been to keep the good times rolling . . .
The villa was small and square, standing in its tiny garden with an air of pink-faced determination. Its shutters had been faded by the sun to a delicate creamy-green, cracked and bubbled in places. The garden, surrounded by tall fuchsia hedges, had the flowerbeds worked in complicated geometrical patterns, marked with smooth white stones. The white cobbled paths, scarcely as wide as a rake’s head, wound laboriously round beds hardly larger than a big straw hat, beds in the shape of stars, half-moons, triangles and circles, all overgrown with a shaggy tangle of flowers run wild.
It was like walking into different world, one of whirring machinery, pots of ink and the hustle and bustle of human activity . . .
The Biographers’ Club is now seeking submissions for The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2016 (worth £3,500) . . .
Every paradise is lost. That’s kind of the point. Loss is the diagnostic feature of every paradise ever lived or imagined. But for five miraculous years and 120,000 miraculous words Gerald Durrell sustained a vision of paradise with joy in every day and every page. Most evocations of paradise dwell on the eventual loss: not here. My Family and Other Animals is a tale of uninterrupted delight . . .
Spring has arrived at Slightly Foxed with the publication of our 49th issue with its cheering botanical cover. Copies should by now have dropped through subscribers’ letterboxes around the world and we do hope you’ve enjoyed it, wherever you are. If you’re a subscriber and your spring…
Rosie Sanders is a painter and printmaker specializing in plants. Her often bold and powerful watercolours of flowers express life and energy and sometimes fragility, not just depiction or imitation. She exhibits regularly with Jonathan Cooper of Park Walk Gallery in London. She…
We’re well in to autumn here at Slightly Foxed and the season is passing by in a whirl of literary conviviality. We’ve been down to Whitehall to toast next year’s Gladstone’s Library writers in residence, up the road in Shoreditch…
I slipped into the world of Lesley Blanch’s swashbuckling cookbook, Round the World in Eighty Dishes (1955), before I’d even heard of it. It was the early ’60s, and I was on my first visit to Paris with friends from university. The city was sizzling in a July heatwave, and our host took us to an Arab quarter near St Michel, where we saw something extraordinary to our English eyes: people not just eating in the street but cooking in it.
I’m bound to admit that some of the experiences, and also, for heavens’ sake, the attitudes of the ‘pathetic ass who records his trivial life’ (as William Emrys Williams put it in his introduction to the Penguin edition of 1945), seem embarrassingly close to my own. Mr Pooter may have lived more than a hundred years ago – just up the road from where I live now, as it happens, in a house, er, rather similar to mine – but his psychology is timeless.
2015 was the second year of Slightly Foxed’s support for the Biographers’ Club Best First Biography Prize, with a winner’s award of £3,500. The prize is given to the best book by a published first-time biographer.
This was the second year that we have sponsored the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, which showcases new talent in the field of biography writing.
Well, it appears to be Christmas again – our eleventh, would you believe? The 48th issue of Slightly Foxed was sent out to subscribers and bookshops on 1 December and we hope by now it’s being read and enjoyed all around the world. We do think the new issue, with its intricate pen-and-ink drawing of a river in winter by Sarah Woolfenden, is especially stylish and the content is especially good too . . .
‘Slightly Foxed is an intelligent, always enjoyable quarterly magazine featuring essays on all things book-related. Ensure your loved one has a year of good reading ahead of them by buying a subscription in their name.’
After reading @M_Z_Harrison – top-notch – on Gilbert White in @FoxedQuarterly I’ve spent the wknd dug into Selborne pic.twitter.com/Sy470cTK8J — Laura Freeman (@LauraSFreeman) November 30, 2015
It’s that happy time again @FoxedQuarterly pic.twitter.com/uRAoDbKO9t — Don Oldham (@OldhamDs) November 29, 2015
Always on this occasion my father’s firm provided sandwiches and drinks for all comers: dealers, smallholders, cowmen, shepherds, drovers. (The more substantial farmers were entertained to luncheon at the Swan.) Great were the preparations on the day before the market. Enormous joints sizzled in Old Cookie’s oven; baskets of loaves lay everywhere about the kitchen, huge pats of yellow butter, tongues, sausages, pasties. Maids were busy all day cutting sandwiches, which were piled on dishes and covered with napkins. There was an air of bustle and festivity all over the house . . .
Sarah Woolfenden trained at The Slade and taught art for many years. Now based in north Devon and a member of the South West Academy she draws large pictures of trees and woods in fine pen. To see more of…
The Barnes Bookshop is one of three independent bookshops owned by Isla Dawes, with the others located in Kew and Sheen, who has worked in the book industry for twenty years. Here she tells us more about the Barnes branch, recalls her life in books and recommends some gems in time for Christmas . . .
‘With their small size and brightly colored cloth covers, Slightly Foxed Editions resemble jewels in book form, a literary treasure chest…
‘For those bibliophiles who yearn for a whiff of an era when a chap wanting something bound in leather on the Charing Cross Road looked to Marks & Co., not Ann Summers, Slightly Foxed will come as manna from heaven . . . it couldn’t be more bookish if it tried.’ Guardian
‘My order arrived today, very promptly and beautifully packed. Everything I ordered was even better than it looked on the website & in the leaflet. The notebook is a Christmas present for my daughter, who loves a nice notebook for use at work – even though she works for IBM, she still likes the old ways too! I am sure this one will be much appreciated.’
The winter quarter is almost upon us . . . Issue 48 has been printed, sewn and trimmed and our printers in Yorkshire now have the mammoth task of packaging up all our subscribers’ copies to be sent out towards the end of next week. Meanwhile, here in Hoxton Square, each day brings a fresh delivery of parcels to keep the office foxes on their toes. Thankfully all the lugging of boxes upstairs, sprinting for the phone, stretching to the top shelves for slipcases, wrestling with cardboard and lunging for the tape gun means we never feel too bad about having just one more mince pie, and it’s always worth it when at last we open up the brown paper parcels and glimpse the new issue’s artwork or the binding cloth on the latest edition for the first time . . .
Wenlock Books has been the beating heart of the high street in the ancient market town of Much Wenlock since 1987. Loved by locals and visitors alike, customers include regulars from South Africa, France, the USA and New Zealand, as well as UK customers from Manchester, Birmingham, London and Edinburgh. Some visit every year, some pop in two or three times a week: the bookshop has a large family! At the head of this family is shop owner and bookseller Anna Dreda, and we happily quizzed her on life at Wenlock Books.
The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2015 (£3,500) has gone to Alan Cumming for his memoir Not My Father’s Son (Published by Canongate).
This charming independent bookshop is very much at the heart of its community and, with new and second-hand books on two floors, handmade ceramics by a local potter and delightful personal decorations from owner/manager Kate, it attracts book lovers from near and far.
Not long after we launched the Slightly Foxed Editions, we came across a little gem of a book, first published in 1948 and long out of print, which we decided we must reissue. My Grandfather by Denis Constanduros is a…
James B. W. Lewis is a printmaker and illustrator based in London. He makes relief prints and drawings inspired by nature, history and literature. Recent clients include the Oxford American and Caught by the River. More examples of his work…
Summer is almost upon us at Slightly Foxed. The printers in Yorkshire and office foxes in Hoxton are knee-deep in boxes of crisp creamy quarterlies, newly minted books and mounds of bubble-wrap and packing tape in preparation for the dispatch of the summer issue of the quarterly. Subscribers can look forward to receiving it towards the end of the first week of June, and with it be transported to Mandalay with Justin Marozzi, across the channel with Joanna Kavenna, into the world of Whigs with Michael Holroyd, to Nowhere with Travis Elborough . . . but we mustn’t give too much away!
‘You have been tempting us successfully for years with wonderful books with words. Now you are tempting us with books without words, your beautiful notebooks are . . . well, beautiful . . . so much so that without a stiff drink I don’t think I’ll be able to mark them in any way (not even with a small doodle).’
Andrew Gifford, Arundel Cathedral, early evening light, Slightly Foxed Issue 45 Intimations of spring at last! The longer days and lighter evenings have arrived on the crest of a brisk March wind, spring bulbs are bravely poking up in Hoxton…
‘Congratulations on sustaining a publication of such high quality and quirky content together with more than a touch of class in its physical production.’
‘I absolutely love receiving my Slightly Foxed. To me it’s an oasis of beautiful words and a calm, gentle world to retreat to. I savour each edition and never, never throw them out. I reluctantly loan them to friends and jealously guard their return. Thank you for this precious gift in my life.’
‘I find your organization very charming. The books come really from another era . . . The authors you have, the pieces you do, really was the type of writing in New England in the late ’60s/beginning ’70s. You people have preserved it! Thus you have won me as a subscriber. I thank you for your excellent selections, stay charming English, as you are.’
‘Slightly Foxed records those opportunities lost, reminding us all that long ago we really ought to have read more.’
‘Just to say very many thanks for another wonderful edition of Slightly Foxed. I have been a subscriber since the 4th or 5th edition, and each copy is a veritable treasure.’
‘What delightfully personal communication, few these days and far between . . . To be courteously addressed now – by persons, no less, with real names rather than mere titles – goes a long way to restoring trust.’
‘Many thanks for reminding me to renew my good lady’s subscription, thus redeeming me from a year’s supply of cold shoulders and cold teas . . . Keep up the high level of publishing, and I will continue to spread the Slightly Foxed “Gospel” to all.’
‘I have just renewed my subscription online and had completely forgotten to do so earlier. Quite how I forgot a publication which gives me as much pleasure as Slightly Foxed is beyond me. Not only do I read each copy cover to cover when it arrives, I keep all the past issues and regularly delve into them. When my daughters were teenagers, the highest accolade they ever bestowed was to call something “utter genius”. You certainly are – thank you.’
‘Thank you so much for resending a copy of The Young Ardizzone . . . The second one arrived on Saturday in perfect condition. It looks lovely and I hope my sister-in-law enjoys reading it.’
‘To all at Hoxton Square, please find enclosed payment for the latest edition . . . Keep up the brilliant way in which you make us all so happy!’
‘Your gracious letter, missing me as a subscriber, touched my heart. A renewal form is enclosed. For a while, feeling I had too much to read and too little money, I thought to deny myself Slightly Foxed, but, ah, I would be sorry. Certainly it’s unique, and I also appreciate the wonderful books you have been bringing back into print.’
‘I thoroughly enjoy the publication and I have bought some of your special editions. I don’t have the time to write (nor do I have the magic with words that many of your contributors have) but let this serve as my appreciation for your work.’
‘I have been slightly foxed now for four years and I’ve just received a card from you to inform me that I can remain blissfully in that condition for another year.’
‘I think the magazine is absolutely “top-hole” and only wish I had cottoned on to its existence earlier.’
‘It is such a joy to find a publication that so effectively conveys the pleasure of good books, and I have found myself discovering and rediscovering authors throughout my first year as a subscriber.’
To put mothers foremost in our minds this month, we offer up Gerald Durrell’s tribute to his own from the foreword to My Family & Other Animals, a woman perfectly described as ‘an education in tolerance, indulgence and love’ by Simon Barnes in his introduction to our new edition.
. . . I should like to pay a special tribute to my mother, to whom this book is dedicated . . .
‘Just home from holidays to find both dogs AND Spring issue waiting: best afternoon ever’ via Twitter
Writer and publisher Diana Athill – still busy at the age of 97 – gives us an action picture, a moment captured as the fox is poised to attack. It could be a scene from Chaucer’s Nonnes Preestes Tale with…
Robert Macfarlane, the award-winning travel writer and creator of this image, says: ‘It might be a fox; might be an aardvark . . .’ Since our book entitled Famous People’s Aardvarks is still at an early planning stage, we’re going to settle for calling…
How clever of children’s author Alan Garner to create such a perfectly supercilious-looking fox with just a few strokes of his pen. Those A-shaped eyebrows convey total disdain as Mr Fox looks down the single stroke of his nose. After…
Ronald Blythe’s fox, at full stretch and giving an anxious backward glance, is a fine example of what Oscar Wilde called the ‘uneatable’, and it is clear that the ‘unspeakable’ are in full pursuit and gaining on him. We’d expect no less from the…
The cartoonist Matt first offered this drawing for inclusion in a book called Famous People’s Forklift Trucks. It was rejected, on the grounds that the necessary safety features were not properly displayed. Inexplicably, the drawing was also turned down by Great British Hen-Houses magazine,…
As you might expect from the nation’s favourite gardener, the spades here are very well executed. The Titchmarsh fox is fluffy and rather glam and its startled expression suggests it may recently have had a facelift. This would make an excellent sign for some…
Only a churl would suggest that this drawing of a fox by writer and BBC Radio’s Midweek presenter Libby Purves is of an ill-natured dachshund by a tree. In any case, a dachshund could never manage that sort of sly, calculating sideways look. About…
Is it a vixen or a minx? A vixen perhaps – certainly a fox fatale. She’s just the sort of creation we would expect from the pen of Sue Macartney-Snape, illustrator of the Telegraph’s column of ‘Social Stereotypes’ and a brilliant observer of upper-class…
This beady, wary, big-eared creature by the eminent biographer Michael Holroyd certainly appears to be related to Vulpes vulpes in some way. One theory is that it is an early example of a particular variation of urban fox whose habitat was Bloomsbury in the…
As Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy has written about contemporary events and issues and refused to be tied down to the traditional Royal milestones. Her drawing is also pleasingly free and original. Here is a fox who knows all the angles, and yet, at…
Booker Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro gives us a splendid portrait of Wayne Brush, the disreputable younger brother of that famous and debonair glove puppet Basil. He has been sacked from a series of jobs and has started a number of…
First impressions can be deceptive. We took this to be a sketch of an elegant lady’s fox fur stole – a clever twist on our theme. However the explanation by the artist and author of War Horse is rather grimmer.…
What a well-fed and contented creature we have here from the creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. It seems to be fox-trotting through the countryside, away from the scene of the crime. Or if it’s an urban fox, then it must…
Not so much Reynard the Fox, but rather more Pussy Galore – even though that is the wrong Bond film for the distinguished director of Skyfall. Just look at those gorgeous liquid eyes and those killer whiskers – and beware.…
Famous for her novel The Shooting Party, set amid the opulence of a country estate on the eve of the First World War, Isabel Colegate has summoned up a rather elegant creature which looks as if it has been attending…
Dame Helen Mirren gets right to the point, without sentiment. Hers is a ferocious beast, all teeth, snarl and aggression ‒ in short, a prime suspect. And that chicken is well and truly spatchcocked. About Slightly Famous People’s Foxes In 2014 we wanted…
Some might suggest that this depiction of a fox by the distinguished theatre critic Michael Billington suffers from being under-rehearsed, but we prefer to say that it is thrillingly spontaneous. Still, it’s a shame about those ill-fitting dentures. About Slightly Famous People’s Foxes In…
Wildlife expert and long-time presenter of BBC Television’s Springwatch Kate Humble must, we think, keep chickens on her farm in the Wye Valley. It’s certainly obvious that the fox is not her favourite form of wildlife. Hers is a distinctly malevolent creature with evil…
One Tree Books is a vibrant independent bookshop in Petersfield, Hampshire. Whether you wish to browse the comprehensive range of fiction, visit the first floor for classical music, travel and reference, or settle down with a new book, coffee and cake in the cafe on the ground floor…
Born in Middlesbrough in 1970, Andrew Gifford is now recognized as one of the most innovative landscape painters working today. His paintings and light installations have been widely exhibited, including many solo public shows. His work is in the New Art Gallery,…
In real life, Charles Collingwood is married to Judy Bennett and, in the not-quite-so-real world of The Archers, he has played the part of Brian Aldridge for nearly 40 years, so it is hardly surprising that there is a touch…
Some listeners have complained that the plot-lines in The Archers have become too racy in recent times. Perhaps we can find a clue to future developments in the work of the actress who plays Shula Hebden Lloyd. Judy Bennett’s effort suggests further turmoil with the arrival of a dodgy poseur…
It is entirely appropriate that the author of Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle (among other cycling adventures) should choose to put her fox on two wheels. The only trouble is, that rear wheel looks to be in…
We asked Michael Palin to do a drawing and he said he couldn’t draw. Instead he wrote out a very generous cheque to the Children’s Hospital School at Great Ormond Street, which is to receive the proceeds from this book. He had us momentarily…
This creature is known as the ‘urbane’ fox – elegant, sophisticated, sashaying through the moonlit countryside with food which it will serve to a few foxy friends at a very civilized dinner party. Incidentally, we feel the former Poet Laureate’s drawing of a dead…
Thank you to all those who joined us for a most jolly evening of books, wine, literary chatter and convivial mingling betwixt the shelves of our cosy bookshop to celebrate the launch of our 29th SF Edition, Michael Holroyd’s memoir, Basil…
Here at SF our first instinct was to quietly ignore the overblown sentimentality of Saint Valentine’s Day but a handful of romantic souls have suggested we mark the occasion in some way, and give a nod to love in this month’s newsletter.…
‘Quiet on the ranks this time of year, what we London cabbies call the kipper season – I’m prepared!’ Twitter
‘I recently received my copy of Christabel Bielenberg’s The Past Is Myself and I must say it is even more lovely a thing than I’d anticipated. Reading it, with its fine paper and its perfect size, slows me down in the very best way. Smith Settle have done a magnificent job in its production, and the choice of Bielenberg’s memoir is really inspired as it requires quiet contemplation and a slow pace to take in the import of the years the author so sensitively describes. You have brought a slice of slowness (a very good thing) into my life in the form of this beautiful edition.’
‘Thank you for the latest Edition, I am very pleased that you have included Gerry Durrell’s book in your series. I was cameraman on several of Gerry and Lee’s TV documentary series and got to know them well. They were both great company and fun to work with, and I visited them at the zoo in Jersey several times. I’m enclosing a copy of the flyleaf of one of their books, with the appropriate inscription – the grocer’s apostrophe is a bit of a worry, though! Keep up the good work.’
‘I’m mad about Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s piece in the new issue. Made me laugh out loud. I was a Malory Towers reader and never discovered Angela Brazil. I may have to seek her out for something light to read over Christmas.’
‘We love and look forward to receiving Slightly Foxed. I try to ration it but end up swallowing it in one gulp.’
Well, happy New Year to you all, dear readers! We hope you had a most enjoyable Christmas season, filled with good company, good food and plenty of reading time. Our tenth anniversary year really was a happy and fruitful one…
While Oxford Street heaves with shoppers in search of Christmas deals, our Hoxton foxhole remains a haven of orderly chaos. The SF girls are calmly packing up beribboned copies of the new Winter issue and all sorts of books and other Foxed goods intended as…
‘Over the last few weeks I’ve been rediscovering an almost forgotten aspect of childhood in the company of two very exciting young men: Phillip D’Aubigny, Knight Crusader and soldier in the company of Richard Coeur de Lion, and Harry Carey,…
Mary Sumner is an artist and printmaker who lives and works in mid-Devon. Her work is rooted in her love for the English countryside and the creatures that inhabit it. Observations from her daily walks inspire her paintings, and plants, seascapes and…
George Devlin was a Glasgow-based artist who exhibited internationally and whose work is represented in civic, corporate and private collections worldwide, in addition to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. For more…
‘. . . a quarterly full of delights and articles about books new and old, published and out of print, beautifully illustrated and written by excellent authors . . .‘
London tube-goers should keep their eyes open for copies of Slightly Foxed riding the underground tomorrow. We’ve teamed up with the lovely Hollie and her team of bookish elves at Books on the Underground to give away 200 copies of the…
Hooray, hurrah, for here’s the fox being recommended in the Telegraph Christmas Books 2014 round-up.
We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2014 Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize. The Prize dinner was held in the splendour of the National Liberal Club on Friday night, and we can now reveal the very worthy winner is Claudia Renton for Those Wild Wyndhams (WilliamCollins).
‘A memoir written in the late 1920s and recently republished in the beautiful Slightly Foxed Paperback series. The book tells of Bell’s move, at 20 years old, from bohemian Battersea to a small farm in Suffolk. Bell is a favourite of mine, and his nature writing is immediately transporting. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the Slightly Foxed Paperbacks, pocket-sized little chunks of perfection, are the most beautifully made paperbacks I’ve ever had the pleasure to own. They’re made by a traditional small press in Yorkshire to standards that make reading on a device seem like the most depressing possible compromise.’ On Adrian Bell’s Corduroy
Winter is fast approaching here at Slightly Foxed. The streets of Hoxton Square are awash with leaves and the SF office is awash with brown paper and our new Foxed ribbon ready for Christmas gift orders . . .
‘1584, Santander. Twenty-year-old Harry Carey, younger son of the autocratic Earl of Aubigny, is serving on board his father’s merchant ship. The Spanish are making excuses to keep the Dragon from sailing, but why? If the ship is impounded, the…
‘1346, the Welsh marches. Young Hugh Fletcher lives with a band of outlaws. After a run in with the tyrannical Sir Henry Mortimer of nearby Goodrich Castle, Hugh realizes that the outlaws are now marked men. If they are to…
‘A joy in itself – and it also publishes attractive, limited-edition, cloth-bound pocket hardbacks that will appeal to traditionalists’