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Adrian Bell | A Countryman’s Winter Notebook

Adrian Bell | A Countryman’s Winter Notebook

We’re delighted to bring you news of a Slightly Foxed special release: Adrian Bell, A Countryman’s Winter Notebook. ‘Bell writes always of the ordinary things, of the seasons, of memories, of rain and laughter. Gentleness fits him naturally, just as the purity of his words opens our eyes to a life all around us which we might otherwise never have seen.’ So wrote the journalist Clement Court of his contemporary, the farmer-cum-writer Adrian Bell, best known for his rural trilogy, Corduroy, Silver Ley and The Cherry Tree, which vividly describe a time before machinery took over much of the work of men and beasts, altering the landscape and the face of farming forever. In addition to the books that followed his famous trilogy, from 1950 to 1980 Bell wrote a weekly column called ‘A Countryman’s Notebook’ for Suffolk and Norfolk’s long-serving local paper, the Eastern Daily Press. His columns were, as his son Martin Bell says in his preface, ‘not really journalism but prose poems about the natural life around him’, and these essays share that which is common to all his writing – a deep appreciation of the small moments of each passing day. Now a selection of these beautifully crafted essays has been gathered together and introduced by Richard Hawking to form the first, we hope, of a quartet of Bell’s writings on the seasons.
Episode 37: Rewriting the Script: The short life and blazing art of Sylvia Plath with her acclaimed biographer Heather Clark

Episode 37: Rewriting the Script: The short life and blazing art of Sylvia Plath with her acclaimed biographer Heather Clark

Heather Clark, Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield and author of the award-winning biography Red Comet, joins the Slightly Foxed team from New York to dispel the myths that have come to surround Sylvia Plath’s life and art. Tired of the cliché of the hysterical female writer, and of the enduring focus on Plath’s death rather than her trailblazing poetry and fiction, Clark used a wealth of new material – including juvenilia, unpublished letters and manuscripts, and psychiatric records – to explore Plath’s literary landscape. She conjures the spirit of the star English student at Smith College who won a Fulbright scholarship to Cambridge University and who brought her enormous appetite for life to her writing and relationships. We follow her life from the ‘mad passionate abandon’ of her thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes, rebellion against genteel verse and her creation of a dark ‘potboiler’ in The Bell Jar to her belief that a full literary life and a family unit can coexist and the outpouring of first-rate poems fuelled by rage in her final days. She introduced female anger and energy into the poetic lexicon with ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Ariel’ and more; poems that were considered shocking at the time, but which are now regarded as masterpieces.
49 minutes
4th October 2021

‘Two rich recent discoveries – both published by Slightly Foxed Editions’

The Empress of Ireland is the novelist and screenwriter Christopher Robbins’s account of his friendship with the most successful forgotten Irish film director of all time, Brian Desmond Hurst . . . The book, simply, is a masterpiece, and its neglect is as inexplicable as that of its subject. Still Life by Richard Cobb, first published in 1983, is a memoir of a Tunbridge Wells childhood. Cobb, historian and Francophile, seems to have had a photographic memory, and his memoir is both an uncannily vivid resurrection of past times . . .
- John Banville, Literary Review
From readers
A Celebration of Slightly Foxed Readers

A Celebration of Slightly Foxed Readers

‘I have been a subscriber from the off, and I read every issue with pleasure. But I have to tell you that No. 71 is the best ever. The writing it contains is superb.’ Greetings from Hoxton Square, where we’re in very good spirits and wish to share some cheering news with our readers. This quarter we’re celebrating a new high: a first print-run of 10,000 issues of the new issue of Slightly Foxed magazine. As most of you will know, we regularly reprint our back issues so, over time, each issue has sold thousands of copies. But now, for the first time, we’re up to 10,000 for the first run of an issue, which feels momentous to a small publisher like us and it’s all thanks to you, our readers.

Bookshop of the Quarter: Autumn 2021

‘Our space is truly beautiful. Savoy is housed on the ground floor of an historic hotel that was built in 1888. It was empty and in disrepair when a local philanthropist purchased the space in 2013. He approached Annie Philbrick, the owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut, and said ‘If I build a bookstore that doesn’t cost you anything, will you run it?’ Conversations like that do not happen every day! Annie agreed to run it and the space was renovated from top to bottom. Savoy Bookshop & Café opened in Westerly, Rhode Island in 2016 and became the sister store to Bank Square Books, which is about 15 minutes away. The wood shelving, creaky floors, tin ceiling, exposed brick, and the large wrought iron staircase really make it the perfect setting for a bookstore.’
Stockists
A Cab at the Door | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

A Cab at the Door | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

For those of you who have yet to add V. S. Pritchett’s classic memoir to your Slightly Foxed collection, we’re pleased to bring news of our featured autumn read. The writer V. S. Pritchett’s mother was an irrepressible cockney, his father a reckless, over-optimistic peacock of a man, always embarking on new business ventures which inevitably crashed – hence the ‘cab at the door’ waiting to bear the family quietly away from yet another set of creditors. In this vigorous and original memoir Pritchett captures the smells, sounds and voices of London in the first decades of the 20th century, and the cast of Dickensian characters among whom he grew up.
Episode 36: Graphic Novels: A Comic Turn with Posy Simmonds & Paul Gravett

Episode 36: Graphic Novels: A Comic Turn with Posy Simmonds & Paul Gravett

The cartoonist, writer and illustrator Posy Simmonds brilliantly captures the ambitions and pretensions of the literary world, and the journalist and curator Paul Gravett has worked in comics publishing for decades. Together they bring graphic novels and comic books to the foreground with the Slightly Foxed team. We draw moral lessons from the Ally Sloper cartoons of the 1870s, glimpse Frans Masereel’s wordless woodcut stories of the 1920s, view the pictorial politics of Citizen 13660 by Miné Okubo in the 1940s and revisit Art Spiegelman’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus before taking a closer look at more contemporary works. The discussion moves through panels, frames, splashes and spreads to Posy Simmonds’s own methods in bringing literature to life, including crosshatching to Vivaldi. Originally serialized in the Guardian, Posy’s Gemma Bovery builds on the bones of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Tamara Drewe draws from Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, while Cassandra Darke takes inspiration from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol . . .
45 minutes
U is for Uhlman, Fred | From the Slightly Foxed archives

U is for Uhlman, Fred | From the Slightly Foxed archives

‘Hooked, I read straight through to the end, with its startling twist. (Warning: resist the urge to take a premature peek.)’ Martin Sorrell, SF Issue 69 Greetings from Slightly Foxed, where we’ve made great strides through the A-Z of the magazine’s archives and selected another article for everyone to read for free. Many of you were prompted to add Reunion by Fred Uhlman to your reading list following Martin Sorrell’s heartfelt recommendation in Issue 69 of the magazine. Such was the spike of interest in this novella, the publisher’s stocks were entirely depleted. However, we’re pleased to report that it’s available to order again. Perhaps you’ll be tempted to make a slim space on your bookshelves for this edition after reading Martin’s review.
Episode 35: Decline and Fall: A Literary Guide

Episode 35: Decline and Fall: A Literary Guide

The Dark Ages, Late Antiquity, the late Roman . . . however you define the years spanning the fall of Rome, the period is rich in stories, real or reimagined. In this episode Dr Andy Merrills, Associate Professor of Ancient History, joins the Slightly Foxed team to cast light on the surviving literature. We begin with Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire before delving into 4th-century accounts by the Latin historian Ammianus Marcellinus, a spiritual autobiography by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, ecclesiastical chronicles by the Venerable Bede, Gallic tales of Christian miracles and relic-looting with Gregory of Tours and an alternative look at the period with the modern-day master of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown. From there we venture into fiction with Rosemary Sutcliff’s adventures inspired by archaeological finds, a retelling of the old British folk ballad ‘The Twa Sisters’ in Lucy Holland’s Sistersong and much more besides . . .
43 minutes
Sword of Bone | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Sword of Bone | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Our series of Slightly Foxed Editions are all absorbing reads – hitherto forgotten memoirs that bring alive a particular moment, that allow you into someone else’s world and make you feel you have actually known the writer. Often these books light up a period in a way no history book can. And that is what Anthony Rhodes has done in Sword of Bone, his wry account of the events leading up to the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in May 1940 – a ‘strategic withdrawal according to plan’ as the chaos was officially described. He manages to capture the absurdity as well as the tragedy of what took place in Dunkirk. For all its humour, Sword of Bone is a penetrating comment on the cruelty of war.
12th November 2021

Slightly Foxed Issue 72: From the Editors

Wednesday 29 September was a red-letter day for us – the first time for eighteen months that we’d got together under one roof to record the Slightly Foxed podcast. Since the first lockdown in March 2020 we’d been sitting at home each month at our separate desks waiting – usually a touch nervously in our case as we’re neither of us entirely confident when it comes to anything technical – to see if we’d made the connection with Philippa our presenter in Cambridge and Lynne our producer in Cheshire.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
‘Slightly Foxed is my little piece of heaven every quarter’ | New this autumn

‘Slightly Foxed is my little piece of heaven every quarter’ | New this autumn

The new Autumn issue of Slightly Foxed (No. 71) has now 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. It ranges far and wide in the usual eclectic manner:  Margaret Drabble admires Doris Lessing • Andrew Joynes receives divine inspiration from William Golding • Olivia Potts has plenty to say about Mary Wesley • John Smart dreams of cheese • Clarissa Burden falls for Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant • Frances Donnelly visits Hotel du Lac with Anita Brookner • Ken Haigh make his case for The Hobbit, and much more besides . . . With it, as usual, you’ll find a copy of our latest Readers’ Catalogue, detailing new books, our backlist, selected seasonal reading and other offers and bundles. We hope it will provide plenty of recommendations for reading off the beaten track this autumn.
Cover Artist: Slightly Foxed Issue 71, Jackie Morris, ‘Spring into Autumn’

Cover Artist: Slightly Foxed Issue 71, Jackie Morris, ‘Spring into Autumn’

Jackie Morris, born in 1961, grew up with a desire to paint. She studied art at Bath Academy of Art and has exhibited her work internationally. She is the illustrator of many books and the author of some. In 2019 The Lost Words, a book made in collaboration with Robert Macfarlane, won the Greenaway Medal. Her inspiration is found between the feathers of a raven’s wing in flight, in the voices of birds, the turning of the year and the shape of a fox. Books, art, paint, creativity, poetry, the remnant boxes of antique paints, all these things and more are an inspiration. She also has a passion for old typewriters, the songs they sing and their scent.

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