Episode 22: Independent Spirit

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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.


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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 37 minutes; 45 seconds)

Books Mentioned

Four Hedges, Claire Leighton. Available from the end of August 2020 (2:44)

Men and the Fields, Adrian Bell (2:48)

The Unofficial Countryside, Richard Mabey (4:30)

In Pursuit of Spring, Edward Thomas (4:56)

Diary of a Young Naturalist, Dara McAnulty (7:27)

The Life and Art of Clifford Webb, Simon Brett (12:52)

The Fat of the Land and The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, John Seymour (15:23)

Landfill, Tim Dee (17:51)

Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School, Ysenda Maxtone Graham (19:35)

Stand by Me, Wendell Berry (30:35)

Here We Are, Graham Swift (33:13)

Anton Chekhov’s short stories (35:00)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

These Fragments, Jon Woolcott on John Harris, No Voice from the Hall in Issue 66 (6:34)

Cheddaring, Sparging and Gaffing, Rowena Macdonald on John Seymour, The Fat of the Land and Self-Sufficiency in Issue 26 (22:50)

Other Links

Little Toller Books

Blue Moose Books (10:05)

Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach
The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable

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Comments & Reviews

  1. Susan L. Feathers says:

    Podcast 22 drew my heart back to nature writing. I live in Kentucky and know Wendell Berry’s works well. He is a national treasure. I as long a follower of E. F. Schumacher. And now these new titles and John Seymour’s works — it inspired me to return to these reminders of our natural selves and the critical importance of saving wild places and nurturing our love for nature. Thanks again for a remarkable discussion. I ordered books from Slightly Foxed and Little Toller this morning. Cannot wait to received them. Gratefully, Susan

  2. Karen McBride says:

    Oh my! We rarely think of ourselves as being part of cultural movements, I suppose, but listening to your discussion of John Seymour’s books took me right back to the ’70s, guitar and homemade yoghurt and all. Thank you for a lovely podcast. Encouraging observations about small publishing houses, so needed. And I did appreciate the recommendation for Wendell Berry, who has been a favorite of mine for many years.

  3. Jasmine Simeone says:

    This was a fascinating podcast. I particularly enjoyed the comments about the books relating to self-sufficiency and natural world. Also, I had just finished listening to the Chekov short stories so I enjoyed those comments which meant more to me because I was more familiar with the works.

    I look forward every month to this podcast. Thank you for going to the trouble to do it and to do it so well. I love the dogs. My own frequently interrupts my listening!

  4. Lynda Selis says:

    Right, this time I REALLY AM going to knuckle down and leave a comment! The trouble is, one is always so inspired, transported, entertained, intrigued, soothed, or the reverse, left brimming with newfound curiosity that no sooner has each SF podcast finished, but I’m away – scurrying off to make a note of something or getting thoroughly side-tracked aboard a search engine because I want to know more about a particular author or subject. And so it gets left to other people to tell you how wonderful these podcasts are.
    And then, upon hearing how much ‘Gail and Hazel appreciate hearing from readers’, I feel a twinge of guilt: a little bit lazy/selfish, even a tiny bit sheepish (though I’m actually a ‘cat’ person). I don’t even have the excuse of being waylaid by a ‘butterfly in a field’ and exploring my reactions from different angles.
    The podcasts are simply fantastic. The guests are always fascinating. I discover gems. Thank you so much!!

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