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Episode 30: Jim Ede’s Way of Life

In this twentieth-century story of a quest for beauty, the writer Laura Freeman introduces us to Jim Ede, a man who, in creating Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, changed the way we look at art. We follow Jim from the trenches of the First World War to Lady Ottoline Morrell’s literary parties in Bloomsbury and a curating job at the Tate. He collected artworks by his friends Ben Nicholson and David Jones, acquired the estate of the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and designed a house in Tangiers that became a sanctuary for soldiers. These were stepping stones towards Jim turning derelict slum cottages into a home and gallery, a space for both tea and tours. And, as ever, we share recommendations for reading off the beaten track.

With thanks to Kettle’s Yard and Paul Allitt for the photo used for this episode’s cover artwork.

Comments & Reviews

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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: 45 minutes; 18 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

–  A Way of Life: Kettle’s Yard, Jim Ede is available from the Kettle’s Yard shop

Ottoline Morrell: Life on the Grand Scale, Miranda Seymour is published in a Faber Finds edition. Second-hand copies are available. (12:59)

Savage Messiah: A Biography of the Sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, H. S. (Jim) Ede is available from the Kettle’s Yard shop

David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet, Thomas Dilworth (19:40)

Three Tales, Gustave Flaubert (37:55)

Lady into Fox, David Garnett (38:53) 

Indelicacy, Amina Cain (40:26)

Transient Desires, Donna Leon (42:15)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

Living Art, Mark Haworth-Booth on Jim Ede, A Way of Life: Kettle’s Yard, Issue 42 (28:00)

Other Links

Kettle’s Yard House and Galleries, Cambridge

Tangier Days: the Edes in Morocco, 1936-52 (22.29)

Bookshop.org (2:16)

Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge (33:50)

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

Comments & Reviews

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  1. Stephanie Klassen says:

    What a wonderful and joyful episode! Recovering from my second vaccine shot yesterday, so I told myself I had an excuse to lounge around the house and listen with a cup of tea this morning. Ms. Freeman’s dedication, enthusiasm and love for her subject really came through – I can’t wait to read her book when it comes out next year. Thank you so much. The mention of the delicious-sounding Fitzbillies bakery in Cambridge led me to their website, where I was delighted to discover that they brought out a cookbook last year, in honour of their 100th anniversary. Might be the closest those of us here in the USA get to Cambridge for a while yet – I might have to try my hand at a version of their famous Chelsea buns at home. Many thanks again and fond wishes from Northern California.

  2. George Woodman says:

    The Slightly Foxed podcasts have been a lockdown discovery for me. I look forward to the latest one and am listening to the back ones. Saving them up so that I don’t run out of them! This one has been very special. It makes me rush off to Kettle’s Yard right away – which, of course I can’t do! However it joins my list of places to visit when travel out of Northern Ireland opens up again.

  3. Anne Peoples says:

    I wait with great anticipation for the podcast every month (although to prolong my pleasure just a little, I never actually listen to it until the 16th). I enjoy every bit of it but I’m always really interested in what all of you are reading and this month I was delighted that Donna Leon was included. I’ve been reading the new Donna Leon every year for the last thirty, enjoying the crime story and the deep exploration of Venice, the physical place and the society. Brunetti is the only crime detective I can think of who is not in any way dysfunctional, who is happily married, whose children are a joy and who does not have a deep dark secret that haunts him. The only demons he fights are real people. It is always a pleasure to be in his company even when the murky world of Venetian crime is lapping round his feet and ours.

    But, and this is a huge but, how on earth could anyone talk about these novels and not mention Signorina Elettra Zorzi, Patta’s secretary, a young woman of elegance, poise and immense resourcefulness, whose superpowers mean she can breach the security of any computer system known to man and can always outwit the dark forces that lurk in the office, so that good (Brunetti) will always prevail and evil (Scarpa) will be forever vanquished. One of the great heroines of the modern novel and a role model for our time. And not a mention!

  4. Andrew Smith says:

    Thank you so much for the story of Jim and Helen Ede – I have worked front of house at Kettle’s Yard since 2014, talking to visitors about Jim and his collection, and yet Laura brought out lots of background information of which I was unaware. I can’t wait to read the book when it is published.

  5. Pauline Beaton says:

    As with every one of your podcasts, I have thoroughly enjoyed this one. They are all such a joy to listen to, beginning with the music and the barking dogs! This month Laura Freeman, positively bursting with enthusiasm for her subject, transported me back to Cambridge where I am lucky enough to have a niece who lives there, and next time I get to visit her I will make a bee-line for Kettle’s Yard, which I have not visited, followed by a return foray into the wonderful Heffers and ending with a hot chocolate in Fitzbillies!
    Thank you Slightly Foxed for “being”, it was one of the best days of my life when a friend introduced me to your books and, through them, to all of you.

  6. Jessica Griffin says:

    This is such a wonderful podcast. I’ve been visiting Kettle’s Yard for many years. Laura Freeman brought Jim Ede and his circle to life so vividly, and she and your interviewer had such a good rapport. I can’t wait to read her book – would it be possible to announce its publication in a Slightly Foxed newsletter?

    • Anna Kirk says:

      Thank you for listening and for your kind words – we’re delighted that you so enjoy the podcast, and this episode in particular! Fear not, we will certainly spread word of Laura’s new book when it comes out. It will be available on our website and in our Readers’ Catalogue when it’s published, and we’ll be promoting it everywhere we can!

  7. Sarah Manire says:

    Dear Foxy Ladies,

    Here I sit in Austin, Texas, temperatures in the 80s, listening to your latest wonderful podcast. I love the idea of Kettle’s Yard and hope to get back over to your side of the pond to visit it before too long. I also loved Jim Ede’s idea that art should simply a part of everyday life, and should even be carried about on one’s person. A very Japanese idea! Which put me in mind of the wonderful book by English potter Edmund de Waal, The Hare with the Amber Eyes, about his family collection of Japanese netsuke, tiny ivory or wood figurines of animals, or people, or plants, which the Japanese use as toggles on their clothes. His book is a family history covering the years of Impressionist Paris, Vienna before during and after World War II, and Japan, an incredible read.

    I realize that listening to your podcasts is like going into a great bookstore – I always come away with lots of new book ideas, and then remember books I love that somehow relate to what you are talking about.

    Speaking of which, I am also a great fan of Donna Leon; I particularly love her descriptions of the Brunetti family (including his wife Paola, who continually reads Henry James) and her descriptions of family meals. There is now a book out called Brunetti’s Cookbook, with quoted passages about the family meals, and real recipes to make them. Mangia, mangia!

    As always, I am looking forward to the next magical podcast, and the next foxy issue.

    Thank you all so much

    Sarah Manire
    Austin, Texas

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