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The Slightly Foxed Podcast

Episode 29: A Poet’s Haven

Episode 29: A Poet’s Haven

The artist Barrie Cooke had fishing in common with Ted Hughes, and mud and art in common with Seamus Heaney. Dr Mark Wormald, a scholar on the life and writings of Ted Hughes, has brought to light an extraordinary haul of poems, letters and drawings documenting a decades-long triangular friendship and a shared love of poetry and nature. He describes the spine-tingling discovery of Barrie’s cardboard box stuffed with correspondence and traces its history, starting with the first supper at Barrie’s Kilkenny home, and then at Jerpoint, also on the River Nore, where the trio forged their friendship, Seamus began Station Island and a poet’s haven flourished. From Ted’s dream of a burning fox man, climbing into Carrowkeel passage tombs and visits from Robert Lowell and Tom Paulin to fishing diaries, pike spoons and a stuffed trout, subsurface treasures are dredged up as our literary sifting takes us off the beaten track.
46 minutes
Episode 28: An Odyssey through the Classics

Episode 28: An Odyssey through the Classics

Daisy Dunn, historian and biographer of Catullus and Pliny, sets our scene in ancient Rome and Greece, entertaining the Slightly Foxed team with literature of love and war, satire and myth, and amplifying echoes of the classics through the ages. We begin with Homer’s monsters and memorials of fallen men, then take a tour of the ancient world, from Catullus’ erotic poetry and Lysistrata’s sex strike to the eruption of Vesuvius and Suetonius’ lives of extraordinary emperors. In a more contemporary turn, F. Scott Fitzgerald borrows Gatsby from the Satyricon, and Mary Renault writes historical novels and lovers’ names in wine. And there’s the usual round-up of recommended reading from off the beaten track.
40 minutes
Episode 27: Dr Wiener’s Library

Episode 27: Dr Wiener’s Library

Anthony Wells worked at The Wiener Holocaust Library in London for a decade. In this episode he leads the Slightly Foxed editors into the history of the library, which holds one of the most extensive archives on the Holocaust and the Nazi era. We travel to Germany, Amsterdam, New York and Tel Aviv, but it is people rather than places that the library remembers with its annals of personal stories. Dr Alfred Wiener, a German Jew who fought in the First World War, was one of the first to note the rise of the Nazi Party, and he began to assemble an archive of information in order to undermine their activities. From downfall by documentation in the Nuremberg Trial to a tracing service made up of millions of records, we learn how The Wiener Library ensures that those who disappeared are not forgotten.
37 minutes
Episode 26: A Winter’s Tale

Episode 26: A Winter’s Tale

In this seasonal episode, the Slightly Foxed team are guided through a snowstorm of winter writing over twelve centuries by the literary critic and author of Weatherland, Alexandra Harris. The tour takes us from Anglo-Saxon mead halls and monsters to Renaissance bodily humours, then on through cool, translucent Enlightenment weather into the dark cloud of the nineteenth century and beyond. We visit frost-fair carnivals on the frozen Thames with Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, brave the Brontës’ wild moorland, stay steamed up indoors with Jane Austen, sink into Dickens’s pea-soupers and see in the ‘year’s midnight’ with John Donne as we listen to a winter’s tale through literature.
43 minutes
Episode 25: A Writer’s Territory

Episode 25: A Writer’s Territory

The Scottish nature writer Jim Crumley takes the Slightly Foxed team on a tour of literary landscapes, from the lochs of the Trossachs and the mountainous Cairngorms to Aldo Leopold’s sand county in Wisconsin and Barry Lopez’s Arctic. Together they trace the chain of writers who have influenced Jim, from Robert Burns and Wordsworth to Thoreau and Walt Whitman, and see nature through the eyes of his hero, the great Scottish naturalist and photographer Seton Gordon. They discuss how folklore has demonized the wolf while Jim believes its reintroduction could hugely benefit the ecology of the Scottish landscape. And finally they venture off the beaten track with this month’s wide-ranging reading recommendations.
40 minutes
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
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
Episode 23: A Writer in the Kitchen

Episode 23: A Writer in the Kitchen

The food writer and chef Olivia Potts joins the Slightly Foxed editors for a literary banquet. Olivia was a barrister for five years before enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu, becoming a cookery columnist on The Spectator and writing A Half Baked Idea, a memoir with recipes. From finding consolation in cooking and precision in pâtisserie to nostalgia-soaked blancmange and family dinners in the Cazalet Chronicles, the conversation flows, welcoming Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David, Charles Dickens and the extraordinary Fanny Cradock to the table along the way. And in this month’s taste from the magazine’s archives, Rachel Khoo’s cookbook conjures up feasts in an attic in Paris.
43 minutes
Episode 22: Independent Spirit

Episode 22: Independent Spirit

Small but discerning, choosing passion over fashion, Little Toller Books shares an independent spirit with Slightly Foxed. Jon Woolcott joins us from this publishing house based in a converted old dairy in Dorset, and charts the rise from cottage industry origins to a wide, prized backlist. With roots in rural writing, Little Toller has branched out to seek unusual voices, resurrecting the life of the wood engraver Clifford Webb, turning landfill into prose, uncovering Edward Thomas’s hidden photographs and finding a bestseller in the diary of a young naturalist along the way. We turn to the magazine’s archives for John Seymour’s advice on cheddaring, sparging and gaffing, and there’s the usual round-up of recommended reading from off the beaten track.
38 minutes
Episode 21: A Bookshelf in Tripoli

Episode 21: A Bookshelf in Tripoli

Justin Marozzi, a travel writer, historian and journalist who’s lived in Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Darfur, joins the Slightly Foxed editors on a journey through North Africa and the Middle East. His discovery of a nineteenth-century account of an expedition to Libya in a bookshop in Tripoli led to his crossing of the Sahara by camel, against the advice of Wilfred Thesiger. From dual chronicles of the desert penned by Rosita Forbes and Ahmed Hassanein Bey and tales of books hurled into the Tigris to the picaresque life of Ibn Battutah and travels with a Tangerine, the conversation ranges far and wide, and there are the usual recommendations for reading off the beaten track too.
40 minutes
Episode 20: An Issue of Enthusiasms

Episode 20: An Issue of Enthusiasms

Slightly Foxed Editors Gail and Hazel take us between the pages of the magazine, bookmarking articles along the way. Crack the spine of the quarterly to discover T. H. White taking flying lessons, smutty book titles, a passion for romantic ruins, John Berger shadowing a remarkable GP, a rebellious Mitford ‘rescued’ by a destroyer, a night to remember on the Titanic and much more besides. From correcting proofs to welcoming writers with a host of experiences, the story of putting together an issue of enthusiasms unfolds. And in this month’s reading from the archives, a hapless apprentice at the Hogarth Press recounts his disastrous stint with the Woolfs.
37 minutes
Episode 19: Tim Pears’s West Country

Episode 19: Tim Pears’s West Country

Tim Pears, a writer rooted in the landscape of Devon, takes Slightly Foxed to the West Country. From working at his local library and reading an author a week instead of taking his A Levels to winning the Hawthornden Prize for his first novel, by way of spells as a farm labourer, nursing assistant and night porter, Tim Pears has written eleven novels, watched blacksmiths at work, walked the routes of his characters, balanced research with imagination and chronicled the past as a realist rather than a romantic. We also travel through the magazine’s archives, along the rivers Taw and Torridge, to uncover the man behind Tarka the Otter, and there are the usual recommendations for reading off the beaten track.
41 minutes
Episode 18: The Ordeal of Evelyn Waugh

Episode 18: The Ordeal of Evelyn Waugh

The great prose stylist of the 20th century, monster, performer? Biographer and literary journalist Selina Hastings and writer and critic Alexander Waugh reveal the many reputations of Evelyn Waugh with the Slightly Foxed editors. From a pathological fear of boredom, hallucinations provoked by doses of bromide and cheques bouncing at the Ritz to his relationships conducted through letters, his genius for sharp satire and love of gossip, the conversation brings to light the darkness and humour of Waugh’s works. And we visit The Loved One’s Whispering Glades in this month’s reading from the magazine’s archives.
45 minutes
Episode 17: Margaret Drabble: A Writer’s Life

Episode 17: Margaret Drabble: A Writer’s Life

Dame Margaret Drabble joins us at the Slightly Foxed table as we celebrate her life in writing. From taking up her pen in the 1960s as a young mother alone in her kitchen to feeling part of a movement with Nell Dunn, Margaret Forster and Edna O’Brien, to editing The Oxford Companion to English Literature without the help of a computer and eschewing the Booker Prize, Margaret Drabble sees writing as both an illness and a trade, finding black humour in ageing and joy in jigsaw puzzles along the way. And we uncover whatever happened to the elusive novelist Elizabeth Jenkins in this month’s reading from the magazine’s archives.
44 minutes

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