There’s a fox’s earth on the cover of this issue, but thanks in large part to you, this Fox has far from gone to earth. We’ve loved receiving your encouraging messages and emails during this difficult year, and you’ve pulled out all the stops with extra purchases, subscriptions and renewals. ‘I read Slightly Foxed in bed with my morning tea as an antidote to the news,’ writes N. Reifler. Now it’s autumn, and we’re happy to say that our publishing programme is up and running, with a great deal to look forward to.
There are two new Cubs to add to The Eagle of the Ninth and The Silver Branch, the first two in Rosemary Sutcliff’s series of Roman novels, which we reissued last year. Frontier Wolf and The Lantern Bearers (see p. 41) take the story of the Roman occupation of Britain through its twilight years, to the moment when the last of the Legions departs, leaving Britain at the mercy of warring tribes and Saxon invaders. Like all the best books, they make you long for more, and fortunately there are three more to come. These take the story of Britain through the Dark Ages to the Norman Conquest, and we’ll be publishing them next year.
This season’s Slightly Foxed Edition is Jessica Mitford’s Hons and Rebels. It’s the story of the Mitford who got away, the one who grew up despising her aristocratic roots and her deeply conservative upbringing, became a socialist, eloped with her cousin and ended up in the USA on the eve of the Second World War, where she remained, espousing left-wing causes, and writing critically about America. Her account of her eccentric upbringing as one of the six headstrong Mitford sisters is brilliantly funny, but there’s a strong undertone of tragedy in it too. Nancy Mitford’s biographer Selina Hastings writes about it on p. 13.
Then there’s an extra treat coming at the end of September – An Englishman’s Commonplace Book compiled by Roger Hudson from material he’s collected over the past forty years. Ranging over the centuries, it’s a rich collection of arresting facts, vivid descriptions, absurd observations and wise words put together by a well-read man with a sharp eye and an ironic – and indeed very English – sense of humour. It’s not just a book for Christmas but a book for the times, one that gives us a perspective on our own history. A perfect present for a thoughtful and humorous friend, and a must-have addition to your own bedside table or spare-room shelf.
And finally another story that demonstrates again how wonderful and unusual Slightly Foxed readers are. Last autumn we received a letter from a subscriber, enclosing a cheque for £500. It was to spend in any way we chose that would make our office life easier, she said, a thank-you for what we do. After much thought we decided we’d like to spend her generous present on something more lasting than a new coffee-machine or photocopier and you’ll find the elegant result on p. 18. It’s the new Slightly Foxed bookplate, commissioned from the illustrator and printmaker Clare Curtis, who did the cover illustration for Issue 56. This is a generic bookplate which leaves space for you to write your own name rather than having it individually printed, which at £10 (plus p&p) for a hundred cuts the cost considerably. We love it, and hope you will too.