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Golden Fire

Golden Fire

I write these words, appropriately enough, in The Woolpack – the Slad pub that once claimed Laurie Lee as its most famous patron – with a pint of cider at my elbow. From one window, the view dips down into a valley, and you can see a path that leads into Stroud, where Lee was born in 1914. From the other, the churchyard, where he is buried beneath the words ‘He lies in the valley he loved’, is just visible. The cider I am drinking is, inevitably, pressed from local apples: ‘golden fire, wine of wild orchids and of that valley and that time and of Rosie’s burning cheeks’. It feels, as it often does in The Woolpack, as if the connections with the past, those generations before me who called this place home, are tangible ones, worn into the dark, musty, cider-soaked fabric of the place.
Ring Out, Wild Bells!

Ring Out, Wild Bells!

Imagine you are walking in the English countryside and come to a village. As the day is hot and the church is open, you step inside to look around and rest in the predictably cool and dim interior. There are some things that the vast majority of church buildings in the British Isles seem to share: the ‘odour of sanctity’ (a combination of furniture polish, lilies and slightly damp stonework); the kneelers stitched by parishioners; a wall display or prayer tree made by the Sunday-school children; and a series of polite little notices – ‘Please close the door. PIGEONS!!!’
SF magazine subscribers only
11th November 2020

The shocking story of Charles and Mary Lamb: Slightly Foxed podcast reviewed

This story might have made for lurid telling, but the podcasters let James set it out plainly before interjecting with pertinent questions and steering the discussion to the Lambs’ work. The respectful quietness of Slightly Foxed is one of its virtues. Where other podcasts suffer from a crescendo of competing voices, this is steady and understated and, yes, all the cosier for being so.
- Spectator
From readers
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Greetings from Hoxton Square where once again we’re sharing a free article from Slightly Foxed to complement a weekend of good reading. The magazine’s archive now stretches to almost 17 years’ worth of issues and over 1000 articles, all of which are available in print and on our website. This week we have combed through our back issues to bring you a piece by John le Carré’s biographer Adam Sisman on a spy fiction classic, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
18th September 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 18 September 2020

Last Thursday was a red-letter day for me because it was that now rare thing, a real letter day. Among the catalogues, bills and offers to sell the house shoved through the letterbox was an envelope addressed in the distinctive handwriting of an old friend. For many years now, widowed and against all advice, she has lived alone in a slightly dilapidated house in a remote part of rural France, reading and rereading her favourite books, ruled over with an ‘iron paw’ by her dog and cat and subsisting on very little money. She sees a few local friends, but nowadays, she says, she tends more to reclusiveness, quoting Colin Dexter’s verdict on Inspector Morse: ‘He was somewhat of a loner by temperament – because though never wholly happy when he was alone he was usually slightly more miserable when with other people.’
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
Shepherds’ Lives | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Shepherds’ Lives | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Greetings from Hoxton Square where, following the dispatch of our autumn publications to readers around the world, our thoughts are beginning to turn to woolens, fireside nooks and making our way through the toppling piles of books we’ve selected from a bumper crop of recent titles. One of these books is James Rebanks’s new offering, English Pastoral, a history of the Lake District farm he inherited and how the land has changed over three generations. Reading of farm life in the northern fells prompted us to revisit Ursula Buchan’s article from Slightly Foxed Issue 53, which takes us back to James Rebanks’s first book, The Shepherd’s Life, and to W. H. Hudson’s A Shepherd’s Life, the book which ‘turned the young Rebanks into a reader’.
Episode 24: The Lives and Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb

Episode 24: The Lives and Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb

Dr Felicity James, author of Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s and current custodian of Charles’s writing chair, introduces the Slightly Foxed editors to siblings at the heart of a literary circle. In their Tales from Shakespeare, gentle-hearted drunken-dog Charles wrote the tragedies and Mary, often chided for laughing, the comedies, and together they penned letters using different coloured inks. From a murder in the home and time in private asylums to conversations with Coleridge at the pub, dissertations on roast pig and salons in their London lodgings, we explore the lives of the Lambs and their friendships through books.
44 minutes
Hons and Rebels | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Hons and Rebels | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Introducing the newest addition to the Slightly Foxed bookshelves: SF Edition No. 52, Jessica Mitford’s Hons and Rebels. ‘It was becoming rather apparent by this year of 1935 that not all of us were turning out quite according to plan,’ writes Jessica Mitford in this brilliantly funny and perceptive account of growing up as the fifth of the six notoriously headstrong Mitford sisters. And it was perhaps Jessica – always known as Decca – the lifelong hard-line socialist, who turned out least ‘according to plan’ of them all.
‘One of the very best moments of each new season: when Slightly Foxed arrives’

‘One of the very best moments of each new season: when Slightly Foxed arrives’

We’re delighted to report that the Autumn issue of Slightly Foxed (No. 67) has left the printing press at Smith Settle. With it, as usual, you’ll find a copy of our latest Readers’ Catalogue, detailing new editions, our backlist, books featured in the latest issue of the quarterly, a selection of literary goods and other offers and bundles. We do hope you’ll enjoy the new issue of the quarterly, wherever in the world you are.

Delivering a Missing Letter

A disused bus shelter in the market town of Sedbergh is a curious place for a quest to end, literary or otherwise. The town itself is rather curious too; geographically in Cumbria but on the wrong side of the M6 to be in the Lake District proper, it sits almost exactly on the watershed where the rolling green fells give way to the harsher limestone uplands of the Yorkshire Dales. Hard up against the Howgill Fells, it has always attracted walkers but in recent years it has also become a haven for readers. It now has seven bookshops, including an enormous second-hand one at the end of the High Street, and bookshelves are squeezed into any available space in the town’s other shops and cafés. When we arrived for cake and a potter while holidaying in Hawes, it was more in hope than expectation that here we would find the missing piece to complete the Scandinavian puzzle that our dining-room bookshelf had become.
SF magazine subscribers only

Coal, Rent and Chaos

A couple of years ago the judges for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction decided that none of the sixty two books submitted was funny enough to win, so they withheld the award. One of them, the publisher David Campbell, explained: ‘Despite the submitted books producing many a wry smile amongst the panel during the judging process, we did not feel than any of the books we read this year incited the level of unanimous laughter we have come to expect.’ Humour is notoriously subjective, but I am confident that if the prize had existed sixty-seven years ago, Gwyn Thomas’s A Frost on My Frolic would have been a strong contender.
SF magazine subscribers only

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