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Collectable Classic Children’s Books | Slightly Foxed Cubs

Collectable Classic Children’s Books | Slightly Foxed Cubs

Ronald Welch’s Carey novels follow the fortunes of the same family from their involvement in the Crusades to their service in the First World War. Grippingly plotted and scrupulously researched, together they join up the dots of English history in a remarkably vivid and human way. Tomorrow marks forty years since Ronald Welch’s death and, as befits a man who held such reverence for dates, we’re commemorating this anniversary and celebrating his wonderful books. He certainly knew how to bring history alive for younger readers. You can’t finish a Welch book without having grasped such precise details as the construction of a crusader’s armour and why it was so designed, or why the longbow was crucial to the English victory at the Battle of Crécy. Most importantly they’re brilliant reads – fast-paced, colourful and imaginative, with entirely believable central characters.
Literary Gifts for Saint Valentine’s Day & Other Occasions

Literary Gifts for Saint Valentine’s Day & Other Occasions

‘I can neither eat nor sleep for thinking of you my dearest love. I never touch even pudding you know the reason.’ Nelson to Emma Hamilton Greetings from Hoxton Square, where the office is looking spick and span and ready for the arrival of the spring quarter’s offerings in a few weeks’ time. However, before we look ahead to the new season, another occasion is on the horizon. For those romantically inclined readers who might have Saint Valentine’s Day in mind, please find a selection of gift ideas below. Eating and sleeping may be off the menu for the love-struck but reading is always an option. We’re able to wrap subscriptions, books and other goods in handsome brown paper with signature cream ribbon and handwritten personal notes and whisk them off to loved ones in the UK in time for 14 February (or, indeed, any other occasion). And for overseas recipients, we can e-deliver a gift card bearing a charming wood engraving, followed by the gift in due course.
‘This winter will be remembered for very many years’ | Letters to Michael

‘This winter will be remembered for very many years’ | Letters to Michael

Warm wishes from Hoxton Square, where we’re bracing ourselves for a cold snap in this corner of the world. With a forecast of snowfall and gales, Arctic blasts and freezing fog here in the UK, we’re inclined to batten down the hatches and settle down with a good book. And we have just the antidote to bad weather and troubled times. Between the spring of 1945 and the autumn of 1947 Charles Phillipson wrote a series of 150 illustrated letters to his young son Michael. Now these delightful, quirky letters, designed to whet Michael’s appetite for reading, have been gathered together in Letters to Michael. This charming cloth-bound hardback edition is full of the lightness and humour Charles found in everyday situations.
Tiger the Literary Lion | Ghosting: A Double Life

Tiger the Literary Lion | Ghosting: A Double Life

‘A large sapphire in the lapel of a bold striped suit, a vivid silk tie so bright that it dazzles . . . and on his fingers a collection of jewels: rubies, emeralds, diamonds . . .’ This is the man Jennie Erdal calls ‘Tiger’, the flamboyant figure at the centre of Ghosting, the strange and gripping story of the twenty years in which she became his ghost writer, pulling the wool over the eyes of reviewers and turning him into the literary lion he had always wanted to be. Greetings from No. 53 where we’ve been busy with subscriptions, renewals and book orders thanks to those of you who’ve been adding to your reading lists for 2022. Another recommendation for your to-be-read pile comes courtesy of Slightly Foxed editor Hazel, who wrote the preface to our edition of Jennie Erdal’s wickedly funny memoir, Ghosting.
Still Life | Starting from the one-storeyed wooden shop . . .

Still Life | Starting from the one-storeyed wooden shop . . .

Grove Hill, later Grove Hill Road, another way up to my home, on the contrary, had a great deal to offer, starting from the one-storeyed wooden shop – little more than a shed, with a flat roof covered over in some sort of tarpaulin – of R. Septimus Gardiner, Taxidermist, his window displaying his skills: red squirrels on their hind-legs eating nuts against a background of branches and foliage; sinister-looking pike, with whisky-drinking eyes, submarine colours and scales, the Terror of the Deep, lurking against a background of yellowing rushes and trailing pale green river-weeds; a woodcock with little glass eyes . . .
A Year in Barsetshire

A Year in Barsetshire

In the spring of 2020, amidst the early devastation of Covid-19, I found myself unable to read. I was grappling with the after-effects of an accident when the pandemic struck, so my concentration was already fractured by the time the streets fell silent. Deprived of the consolations of print, one April afternoon I pressed play on the first chapter of the audiobook of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden as I left the house for my daily walk. I did so without much expectation that the noise would do anything other than provide a mild distraction from the exigencies of the day, but within minutes the cathedral close of Barchester had opened up before me and I was hooked. What follows is an account of the year I spent among the inhabitants of Barsetshire, and of the solace I found in the connected stories of the Barchester novels.
SF magazine subscribers only
On Juniper Hill

On Juniper Hill

Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise has always felt like home. A romantic notion, perhaps, from someone brought up in the 1970s and ’80s, rather than a century ago, as Flora was. I first read it when I was 13, then again in my twenties, and once more recently, this time as a mother, looking back on my own childhood but also on that of my children, as the oldest two began to make their way into the world, away from the rural hamlet and tenanted ex-farmworker’s cottage they’ve grown up in. With the passing of time that feeling of home­coming has only grown stronger.
A Glorious Menagerie

A Glorious Menagerie

‘Of all the civilizations of the ancient world, none enjoyed such a close and significant relationship with the animal realm as that of the ancient Egyptians.’ So Philippe Germond, an Egyptologist at the University of Geneva, plunges into his subject in An Egyptian Bestiary (2001). But already he is outflanked on the facing page by the regal profile of a leopard’s head carved in sunken relief, the sharply incised contour framing it with a powerful line of shadow. Which is fitting, for this is above all a picture book, led by 280 spectacular photo­graphs (mostly credited to his co-author Jacques Livet) of artworks that speak across the millennia and challenge the imagination.
SF magazine subscribers only
Fulmar, Gannet and Puffin

Fulmar, Gannet and Puffin

In shelves to the left and right of the fireplace in our dining-room, my husband keeps an extensive collection of books about Scotland. Half a shelf is given over to volumes on St Kilda. If ever I feel the need to escape from Hammersmith to a landscape of vast skies, mountainous waves, sea-spray blowing like white mares’ tails across the rocks, this is where I turn: to the extraordinary archipelago, 110 miles west of the Scottish mainland, whose black cliffs and dizzying stacks, the highest in Britain, unfold in a drumroll of Gaelic names – Mullach Mor, Mullach Bi, Conachair.
SF magazine subscribers only
The Art of Bookselling

The Art of Bookselling

Just as most good books aren’t really about the things they say they are, Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop (1978) isn’t really about a bookshop. It’s about English insularity, politics, the misuse of power and the headstrong persistence of hope, with Florence Green’s Suffolk bookshop a symbol for every newcomer who ever found their best intentions beaten down by suspicion and hidebound tradition. At the end of the book, the formidable local matriarch Mrs Gamart manipulates her MP nephew into pushing through Parliament a bill specifically designed to close down Florence’s shop in favour of a local arts centre. The arts centre is Mrs Gamart’s pet project, and the town of Hardborough falls into line behind her. Florence has to con­clude that ‘the town in which she had lived for nearly ten years had not wanted a bookshop’. That is the last line of a book about a book­shop. An upbeat ending it is not.
SF magazine subscribers only
Not So Verray Parfit

Not So Verray Parfit

I once taught English at a girls’ school in which the head of depart­ment didn’t like poetry. It’s an odd aversion but it worked well for me. The poetry room was right at the top of a very tall building, and thither wended her way every pupil in the place, to be rewarded by peaceful sessions chewing over every kind of poem, from epic to lyric to limerick. But some of these girls also had to pass public exams. The A-level syllabus was dictated by a higher authority and this term the poetry module featured Chaucer. No problem in that. To me, he is the tops. He understood the complicated, subtle, self-deluded and some­times glorious nature of human beings better than any writer, before or since, and he displayed enough humour, generosity and lightly worn erudition to keep a whole pilgrimage entertained from here to eternity.
SF magazine subscribers only
Fresh as Paint

Fresh as Paint

My brother, my sister and I grew up in a rambling farmhouse in Hampshire hung with pictures by friends of our parents, for they knew a wide range of artists and tended, naturally, to buy works by people they knew. Some of these paintings seemed gloomy and frankly baffling, but those by Julian Trevelyan and his wife Mary Fedden danced with life and colour. Julian and Mary were among our favourite week­end guests, and we were particularly in thrall to Julian, who loomed over us from his immense height with his ‘craggy welcoming face and patriarchal beard’, in the words of his cousin Raleigh Trevelyan. He would spend hours entertaining us with comic drawings, notably of himself as Edward Lear’s ‘old man with a beard/ Who said “It is just as I feared!/ Two Owls and a Hen/ Four Larks and a Wren/ Have all made their nests in my beard.”’
SF magazine subscribers only
Hammering Away at Words

Hammering Away at Words

‘Why do I feel as if the Earth is disappearing from under my feet?’ was the reaction of one friend when I introduced him to Hooting Yard, the ‘nonsense’ literary universe created by that most cultish of cult writers, Frank Key. Yes, you must have a care when approaching Hooting Yard. Make sure you’re sitting down or at least have some­thing solid to grab on to, because vertigo is guaranteed as you are struck by a series of dizzying revelations.
SF magazine subscribers only

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