‘Good luck,’ people said kindly. Or worse, ‘We think you’re very brave.’ The idea for Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly took shape round a north London kitchen table in the spring and summer of 2003. Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood had been friends and colleagues in the editorial department at the publisher John Murray, and when that dignified old family firm was sold and moved to a twenty-storey office block in Euston Road, they decided the time had come to branch out and do something different, together with Steph Allen, John Murray’s Publicity Director.
All of them were struck by the fact that, while publishing firms were growing larger and larger, the number of interesting and original books being published seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. And they thought of all the thousands of wonderful books that had been allowed to drop out of print, or were languishing, unpublicized on publishers’ backlists, and what a pity it was that people who might enjoy some of these books might never come to hear of them . . .’