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The Slightly Foxed Podcast

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
Episode 16: Moving in Royal Circles

Episode 16: Moving in Royal Circles

Biographer and academic Jane Ridley and screenwriter and novelist Daisy Goodwin join the Slightly Foxed Editors to reveal the wealth to be found in royal biographies, memoirs and historical novels. From the remarkable diaries of Queen Victoria and the extraordinary life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria to Prince Albert’s cashmere breeches, a cottage meal at Sissinghurst with the Queen Mother, and Edward VII’s many mistresses, the parade of tales about the lives and loves of royal people roams far and wide. And we go on a on a quest for Queen Mary with James Pope-Hennessy in this month’s hunt through the magazine’s archives.
38 minutes
Episode 15: Reading Resolutions

Episode 15: Reading Resolutions

As we turn the page to a new decade, we’ve made some New Year resolutions. John Mitchinson and Andy Miller of Backlisted Podcast join the Slightly Foxed Editors to bring new life to old books, leading us off the beaten track with wide-ranging reading recommendations. From Frank O’Connor’s letters, Selina Hastings’s lives and Barbara Tuchman’s histories to the poetry of John Berryman, Gayl Jones’s Corregidora and Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, they journey through genres to revive literary curiosity. And in this month’s reading from the magazine’s archives, Richard Platt makes a convincing case for The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, falling under its curse of sleepless nights.  
39 minutes
Episode 14: The Vital Spark

Episode 14: The Vital Spark

What sparks a lifelong love of reading? Francis Spufford, author of The Child that Books Built, and Emily Drabble of the children’s reading charity BookTrust, delve into bookshelves past and present with the Slightly Foxed Editors to understand the alchemy that ignites the spark. From books as seductive objects, the haphazardness of alphabetical organization and disappearing libraries to the joys of cover-to-cover reading and books being doorways to new worlds, the conversation reveals what a passion for reading can bring to our lives. In this month’s dip into the magazine’s archives Ysenda Maxtone Graham gives tried and tested tips for reading aloud, grappling with Tolkien pronunciations along the way, and there’s the usual round-up of recommendations for reading off the beaten track.
37 minutes
Episode 13: Nature & Story

Episode 13: Nature & Story

In the parochial lies the universal, or does it? Join us on a trip to the British countryside as we plough into the matter of nature, landscape and the rural world in literature to find out more. Together with Juliet Blaxland, author of Wainwright Prize shortlisted The Easternmost House, and Jay Armstrong of Elementum Journal, the Slightly Foxed Editors and host Philippa share tales of living on the edge of eroding cliffs, pioneering bird photographers, ancient arboreal giants, guerrilla rewilding and favourite loam and lovechild comfort reads. In this month’s forage through the magazine’s archives, we go down to the Folly Brook to explore a vanishing world with ‘BB’ and his little grey men and, to finish, there are the usual wide-ranging recommendations for books to take your reading off the beaten track.
39 minutes
Episode 12: Slightly Foxed – But Still Desirable

Episode 12: Slightly Foxed – But Still Desirable

Gail, Hazel and host Philippa enter the world of second-hand bookselling with Chris Saunders of Henry Sotheran’s, the world’s oldest antiquarian bookshop. From folios to quartos, half-binding to cockling, foxing to forgery, they tackle trade terminology and share tales of rarities and curiosities. The conversation ranges far and wide in the typical Slightly Foxed manner – from Parisian romances and the libraries of English country houses to outsized ornithological specimens and books of unusual provenance. In this month’s wander through the magazine’s archives Nigel Anthony recounts the tale of a bookseller’s quest for bibliophilic bliss in a sleepy corner of the Cotswolds, and there’s the usual round-up of recommended reading from off the beaten track.
41 minutes
Episode 11: Orkney’s Prospero

Episode 11: Orkney’s Prospero

Gail, Hazel and host Philippa are transported to Orkney as they explore the life and works of the poet and novelist George Mackay Brown OBE. Together with his biographer Maggie Fergusson and Colin Waters of the Scottish Poetry Library, they bring to light a writer who was at once a solitary soul and a raconteur, a lover and a drinker, a member of the Edinburgh literati yet fame-shy. From the oft-recited ‘Hamnavoe’ to the Booker-nominated Beside the Ocean of Time Mackay Brown’s work sings of his island roots, interweaving life and social history with myth and legend. In this month’s travels through the magazine’s archives, Christopher Robbins and Rory Murphy tackle the high falutin literary rap of Finnegans Wake, and there are the usual wide-ranging recommendations for reading off the beaten track too.
40 minutes
Episode 10: From Page to Stage

Episode 10: From Page to Stage

Just who are literary festivals for and why do we love them so much? Gail, Steph and host Philippa go backstage with Anne Oxborough of the well-established Ways With Words and Michael Pugh of recent start-up the Llangwm Literary Festival to find out more. From the delights of surprise-hit speakers, post-show river swims, vodka-fuelled poetry sessions and the rise of fancy food stalls to the horrors of airborne green rooms, bacon-roll bust-ups and rail replacement buses, the conversation ranges far and wide in the usual Slightly Foxed way. In this month’s audio-adventure through the magazine’s archives the writer and performer A. F. Harrold goes speed-dating with Iris Murdoch at Cheltenham Literature Festival and, to finish, there’s the usual round-up of recommended reading from off the beaten track.
39 minutes
29th July 2019

‘I just want to tell you how much I enjoy the podcast . . .’

‘I just want to tell you how much I enjoy the podcast. It is splendid in every regard, and I await the 15th of the month with great anticipation. And I was thrilled when, in the July episode you noted that the Autumn Foxed Quarterly will have a piece on Olivia Manning and on Gaudy Night. I just reread The Balkan Trilogy, and Gaudy Night is a life book for me. I had been working on an essay on Gaudy Night to enter in your annual competition, but now will set that aside and look forward to reading about it in the next issue.’
- N. Winder, Seattle, Washington, United States
From readers

‘I do miss an English garden . . .’

‘Greetings from Crete which is where I listened to the latest podcast. It may sound idyllic sitting on a balcony over-looking the sea, but I do miss an English garden. Reference to Lady Hillingdon took me back to my Somerset garden I left some years ago where I had a yellow rose named after the lady climbing up a pergola. I often think if I was to write an essay about leaving that small but much-loved garden the title would be ‘On leaving Lady Hillingdon’. Thank you for the podcasts which help to sooth a sometimes homesick brow.’

‘As always a complete delight . . .’

‘As always a complete delight which takes one away to a calm and peaceful place full of interest and inspiration leaving just a slight frustration as to how to find the time to read all these wonderful books. On this occasion I have particularly enjoyed the synchronicity of the podcast being on the topic of garden writing. I have just finished reading my first book on gardening (although when I look I have several on my shelves) – Hidcote: The Making of a Garden by Ethne Clarke.’

‘Many thanks for your podcasts . . .’

‘Many thanks for your podcasts which always lead me down a delicious byway to forgotten places and people. Your mention of your search for memoirs reminded me of Flavia Leng's memoir of her mother Daphne du Maurier. I read it many years ago and I looked it out yesterday to see if it was as good as I remembered. It is an extraordinary story of a childhood in a dysfunctional family and I reread it in a single sitting which is very rare for me. I cannot pretend that it leaves a cosy picture of Daphne, Boy or Menabilly but there is a raw honesty which is compelling.’

‘I was visiting London last autumn . . .’

‘I was visiting London last autumn and purchased two issues of Slightly Foxed. I’ve fallen in love with your quarterly. I held off subscribing because we’re on a strict budget here and I live in the States, so, it’s a bit more expensive. After listening to all of your delightful and erudite podcasts, I fell even harder for all things Slightly Foxed, so I took a deep breath and subscribed to the quarterly. I can’t wait to receive my first issue. Thank you for your podcast, by the way. There is such a warmth and a feeling of intimacy to the discussions around the table – I wish I was there! I find myself writing down book titles as I listen. Thank you from a reader/listener in New York.’

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