With mist obscuring the dome of St Paul’s and winter closing in, it seems a long time since we were driving through lush, sunlit Devon lanes to the launch of the Autumn issue at the (tiny) Big Red Sofa bookshop in Chagford, right on the edge of Dartmoor. As always it was a convivial get-together, with subscribers coming from as far away as Exmouth, and keen interest taken from the bookshop regulars in Slightly Foxed. This beautiful area, where moor and countryside meet, is home territory to Gail. Her family have long connections with it, and our visit to Devon was combined with a splendid housewarming for the eco-friendly house that she and her husband have dreamed about for years and which is now finally finished, down to the last slab of granite and foot of grass roof. However, don’t panic. Gail, like the rest of us, is still based in London, and SF continues exactly as before.
Well, not quite. Many of you will have noticed that, increasingly, we are featuring books that have gone out of print. This seems inevitable, given the state of the publishing industry, and fortunately it’s usually not difficult to lay hands on second-hand copies. But we’ve been struck by the number of wonderful memoirs and autobiographies that have slipped into oblivion, original and individual voices now lost. So next March we will be launching a series of reprints, Slightly Foxed Editions. These elegantly produced little hardback pocket editions will, we hope, be both eminently readable and highly collectable, companion volumes in every sense of the word. There’ll be a new one published with each issue, accompanied by a piece in Slightly Foxed to introduce it, and they will be available only from Slightly Foxed and from a few selected bookshops. We’re sure readers will have their own suggestions and we’ll be running a competition for the best of them. We’ll be sending you more information next year.
And speaking of competitions, don’t miss Michele Hanson’s Christmas Quiz on p.45. Whether you love D. H. Lawrence or hate him, it could provide a good solution to a wet Boxing Day afternoon, and there’s a free subscription to be won. Similarly, if you have a spare moment, do try and guess the mystery author depicted by Mark Handley in a linocut on p.4. Again, there will be a free annual subscription for the first person to identify the author correctly.
Now we’ve always hoped that Slightly Foxed might, in its quiet way, be seen as a little subversive, but we’ve never thought of it as a health hazard. So we were astonished to hear from Margaret Eedle, a reader in Black Hill, Victoria, that her copy of the latest issue was opened by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, and then sent on to her with the following information: ‘Our screening process, which uses detector dogs and x-ray machines, indicated there may have been an item of quarantine concern in your parcel.’ Foxing indeed.
Finally, for anyone who fancies a day of Christmas shopping in Bath, we’ll be celebrating the arrival of the Winter issue there at the invitation of Topping’s bookshop in The Paragon on Thursday, 6 December, between 6 and 8 p.m. (Tickets will be available on the door.) It’s always a pleasure to meet you and raise a glass.
And to those of you whom we won’t be meeting, our valued and far-flung subscribers, we raise a glass in spirit and wish you, as ever, the best of Christmases and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.