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1st June 2021

Slightly Foxed Issue 70: From the Editors

Looking back over the past strange and difficult months, it’s cheering to see some of the good things that have come out of the ‘new normal’. One is Bookshop.org, a website launched last autumn to enable independent bookshops to continue trading online through the pandemic, which generated £1 million profit for indie bookshops in its first four months. It has enabled many a struggling bookshop to avoid furloughing staff and help pay its running costs and we hope it will gather strength in the online fight to challenge the behemoth that is Amazon. Definitely worth checking out.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
Beautiful books bound in duck-egg blue | Plain Foxed Editions

Beautiful books bound in duck-egg blue | Plain Foxed Editions

‘Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our shelves (and on our windowsills, and underneath our sofa, and on top of our refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves.’ Greetings from SF HQ, where this line from Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris is ringing in our ears as we survey our book-filled scene, roll up our sleeves and spring clean the office in preparation for deliveries of yet more delicious books next month.  If you’d like to help us clear a few shelves and take the opportunity to stock up on any Plain Foxed Editions you might have had your eye on, now is the time. By way of thanks for your support over the last year, we’re providing a special offer when you buy pairs or sets of books from this perfectly pocketable series until Friday 7 May. We do hope you enjoy browsing our bookshelves.
Going Solo | The Battle of Athens – the Twentieth of April

Going Solo | The Battle of Athens – the Twentieth of April

A life is made up of a great number of small incidents and a small number of great ones: an autobiography must therefore, unless it is to become tedious, be extremely selective, discarding all the inconsequential incidents in one’s life and concentrating upon those that have remained vivid in the memory . . . In the second part of the book, which deals with the time I went flying with the RAF in the Second World War, there was no need to select or discard because every moment was, to me at any rate, totally enthralling.
Going Solo | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Going Solo | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Greetings from Hoxton Square where we’re hurtling through the spring quarter at pace. When looking at our diaries to plan the week ahead, we were surprised to find that we’ve already landed on 20 April, which, this year, marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Athens. The Battle of Athens (also known as the Battle of Piraeus Harbour) is the name given by Roald Dahl to a dog-fighting air battle, fought between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe towards the end of the Battle of Greece. Dahl describes this airborne adventure in his second memoir, Going Solo, which is available in a handsome Slightly Foxed Edition. He was clearly a brilliant pilot, and his account of what it was like to confront the enemy from the cramped cockpit of a Hurricane, with minimal training in how to fly it, is stomach-churning.
Episode 31: The Magic of Angela Carter

Episode 31: The Magic of Angela Carter

Imagination, influence and the invention of infernal desire machines . . . Edmund Gordon, biographer of Angela Carter, guides the Slightly Foxed team through her colourful works and explores the wider realms of magical realism. Witty and wilfully idiosyncratic, Carter conjured sex and death from fairy tales in The Bloody Chamber, used her Somerset Maugham Award money to leave her husband and go to Japan to write, and absorbed the Latin American influences of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez. We hear how she enlisted the Marquis de Sade as an ally of feminism, embraced pulp genres and opened doors for David Mitchell, China Miéville, Helen Oyeyemi and more, while always attending to the grammar of the folk story. And, to finish, there are the usual wide-ranging recommendations for reading off the beaten track.
43 minutes
Q is for Quiller-Couch, Arthur | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Q is for Quiller-Couch, Arthur | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Our series of recommendations for good reading via the magazine’s archives has brought us to a letter of the alphabet we thought could prove troublesome. However, all fears have been eased as it offers up a writer Daphne du Maurier ‘admired among all others’, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, whose works were published under the pseudonym ‘Q’. Du Maurier was far from Q’s only admirer. Helene Hanff enjoyed a volume of lectures by Quiller-Couch, and was inspired to seek out all the titles he recommended. This led to a correspondence with an antiquarian bookshop in London that lasted many years, and these letters became the beloved 84, Charing Cross Road. Helene pays her debt to her reading mentor in a subsequent memoir, Q’s Legacy. Derek Parker states his own case for Q’s legacy in this piece from Slightly Foxed Issue 21. Please find a link to read the full article below. We do hope you’ll enjoy it. 
The Cherry Tree | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

The Cherry Tree | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Greetings from Slightly Foxed where the team in the office are looking forward to an extended Easter weekend and the prospect of a healthy dose of fresh air, feasting and, most importantly, much good reading. Meantime, we’ll leave you with a suitably seasonal extract from the final volume of Adrian Bell’s trilogy of lightly fictionalized memoirs, The Cherry Tree. As SF Editor Hazel Wood writes in her preface to our edition, ‘in these books [Bell’s] keen and sympathetic eye combined with the practicality of the farmer to create some of the most poetic yet down-to-earth accounts ever written of life in the English countryside’. We’ll be in touch again next week. Until then, we do hope you’ll enjoy reading this extract and browsing our bookshelves.
30th April 2021

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 30 April 2021

We’re about to enjoy the first of two May bank holiday weekends, which is always a welcome portent of summer, but there’s been a bank holiday feel to this past fortnight as well, as restrictions ease and people start to socialize outside. My walk to and from work is now accompanied by the sounds of a city waking up; shutters clattering open in the morning and chatter and clinking glasses in the evening. However, it’s the reopening of bookshops that’s made us most excited. Jess went on a pilgrimage to her favourite branch of Daunt Books in Marylebone as soon as she could, delighted to be browsing the shelves in person. And I’d almost forgotten how wonderfully restorative it can be to duck into the small and friendly Waterstones in Crouch End when passing on a Saturday morning.
- Gail Pirkis & Anna Kirk
From the editors
Episode 30: Jim Ede’s Way of Life

Episode 30: Jim Ede’s Way of Life

In this twentieth-century story of a quest for beauty, the writer Laura Freeman introduces us to Jim Ede, a man who, in creating Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, changed the way we look at art. We follow Jim from the trenches of the First World War to Lady Ottoline Morrell’s literary parties in Bloomsbury and a curating job at the Tate. He collected artworks by his friends Ben Nicholson and David Jones, acquired the estate of the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and designed a house in Tangiers that became a sanctuary for soldiers. These were stepping stones towards Jim turning derelict slum cottages into a home and gallery, a space for both tea and tours. And, as ever, we share recommendations for reading off the beaten track.
45 minutes
Dawn Wind | Light in the Dark Ages

Dawn Wind | Light in the Dark Ages

‘In Dawn Wind, the fifth of her novels on Roman and post-Roman Britain, Rosemary Sutcliff is, as always, bang on the money . . .’ So writes Sue Gaisford in her article on the latest addition to our Slightly Foxed Cubs series of classic children’s books, and we couldn’t agree more. We’re delighted to have published Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind this month and, for those of you who have placed orders for this title, it will be with you very soon, if not already. Though most of her books were written primarily for children, the flesh-and-blood reality of Rosemary Sutcliff’s characters, her convincing plots and her brilliant reimagining of everyday life in a remote and mysterious Britain have always attracted adult readers too. Dawn Wind is no exception. Within its opening pages we’re introduced to Owain, the book’s teenage hero who has both Roman and British blood in his veins, and learn that he is the sole survivor of a terrible battle with the Saxons. We do hope you’ll enjoy this latest offering, whether you’re a young reader or simply young at heart.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

‘I could go anywhere I liked in the world. There was nothing to stop me, I would be penniless, free and could just pack up and walk away.’ Introducing the latest addition to the Slightly Foxed Editions list, No. 54: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. When Laurie Lee set out on foot from his home in the Gloucestershire village of Slad one midsummer morning in 1935 he knew he was saying farewell to the idyllic country boyhood that he would later capture so unforgettably in Cider with Rosie. He was 19 and off to see the world with only his violin for company. He was aiming for London but decided to go via Southampton because he had never seen the sea. And so began a year of wandering that would take him from the north of Spain south to the Mediterranean.

Bookshop of the Quarter: Spring 2021

The White Horse Bookshop is a proudly independent bookshop in a renovated Tudor townhouse in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Although their doors are closed to the public for the moment, the bookshop is very much open for business through their recently updated website. Wearing a smart new look for spring, it’s replete with recommendations, highlights and new books lists for customers’ online browsing pleasure. The booksellers are in full swing orchestrating click and collect and postal order services. A trip to Wiltshire to browse this beautiful bookshop in person is high on our list of bookish destinations to visit when we can. In the meantime, it was a pleasure to speak to bookseller Angus to learn more about life at White Horse Books.
Stockists
‘Slightly Foxed is a lovely quarterly delight – to be relished and cherished!’ | New this Spring

‘Slightly Foxed is a lovely quarterly delight – to be relished and cherished!’ | New this Spring

We’re delighted to announce that the new Spring issue of Slightly Foxed (No. 69) has left the printing press at Smith Settle and will start to arrive with readers in the UK very soon and elsewhere over the next few weeks. We hope it will provide plenty of recommendations for reading off the beaten track this spring. With it, as usual, you’ll find a copy of our latest Readers’ Catalogue, detailing new books, our backlist, recommended seasonal reading and other offers and bundles.

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