Another year almost gone. The lights are going on early now in Hoxton Square, and on misty evenings there’s a sense of a ghostly earlier London hovering just out of reach, while only a few hundred yards away down Old Street huge shiny office blocks are rising to create a new ‘Tech City’. It’s making us feel a bit ruminative. Thanks to Jennie and all the young staff, we’re keeping up with and making good use of all the new technology, but we do also cling to what might be called ‘old-fashioned’ values – giving a really prompt and personal service to readers, keeping up our production standards, not cutting corners on writing and editing, and treating our suppliers and contributors decently. Thanks to you we’ve survived the recession, but things are still very tough for small businesses like Slightly Foxed, and our values do come at a cost.
We know they’re important to you too, so we’d be very grateful if you could help us this Christmas by putting the word around to possible new subscribers, maybe giving someone a gift subscription or one of our books – you’ll find a catalogue enclosed. And if you’re buying other books, do remember the independent bookshops. Figures published earlier this year showed that for the first time there are now fewer than 1,000 of them left in Britain, and once gone they will never come back. Most of them, including our own shop on Gloucester Road, are run by people who love reading books rather than simply selling them: they provide a unique personal service, and they pay their taxes.
But enough already. The Fox is still in good shape, and we’re delighted to be reissuing a beautiful and very distinctive book as our winter Slightly Foxed Edition – Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals (see p.14). It’s one of those books that speak to the child in us all – an evocation of a boyish paradise that has delighted readers of all ages since it was first published in 1956. For five years before the war, the Durrell family – the four children, Gerald, Larry, Leslie and Margo, and their mother – lived on Corfu, and here we see the famous naturalist as a boy, glorying in the freedom and beauty of the island, exploring its animal kingdom and getting to know a cast of characters quite as eccentric as his own eccentric family – and that includes the animals. It’s both magical and funny – a perfect family book for reading aloud.
And speaking of books that appeal to readers of all ages, just a reminder that we’re now halfway through our project of reissuing Ronald Welch’s wonderful Carey chronicles, a series of historical novels that follow the same family from the Crusades to the tank battles of the First World War. Welch was a schoolmaster who wrote with children in mind, but there’s no doubt that these books, in our elegant and highly collectable Cubs edition, are ringing bells with some of our older readers too. They’re well-plotted, colourful and fascinatingly detailed, and give a great overview of the characters and pivotal campaigns of British history. You’ll find them in the catalogue.
Also in the catalogue is another of our popular literary crosswords – the sixth. Entries should reach us no later than 14 January and the first correct one to be drawn out of a hat will receive a free annual subscription.
Thank you again for your support, your letters, your interest and your enthusiasm, which have meant so much to us in our tenth anniversary year. We wish you all a very peaceful Christmas, however you are spending it, and the best of good reading in 2015.