There’s something very particular about the quiet months after Christmas – a time to hibernate, turn round and generally take stock. That’s what we’ve been doing here at the Slightly Foxed office, tidying up after the Christmas rush, reviewing our plans for the coming year and watching spring gradually arrive in Hoxton Square as the daffodils begin to emerge and the cafés tentatively put out their tables.
A little book we’ve just published beautifully captures the essence of the season. A Countryman’s Spring Notebook brings together more of the popular weekly essays Adrian Bell contributed for thirty years to the Eastern Daily Press, each one a fleeting moment evoked with a painterly eye and the down-to-earth observation of the farmer Bell became. A must for all those who’ve come to love his writing and one to put alongside A Countryman’s Winter Notebook which we published last year.
Our new Slightly Foxed Edition is something very different. In True to Both My Selves (see p.11) Katrin FitzHerbert tells the unusual story of her family, and of growing up as the child of a half-English mother and a German father, a man she idolized who was a committed member of the Nazi Party. With great courage and honesty she describes how she moved from a childhood dedicated to the ideals of National Socialism to face her past and make the final choice ‘between England and Papa’.
When Dame Hilary Mantel died, many readers of her novels learned more about her life and her heroic struggle with the serious medical condition from which she suffered for many years without a diagnosis. Nowhere is this more vividly or more movingly described than in her own memoir Giving Up the Ghost, which is now available in a Plain Foxed Edition. It’s the story of the painful making of a great writer, a story not easy to forget.
This was the 14th year of our popular crossword competition. Congratulations to the winner, Jonathan Crowther in Oxford, who receives a free annual subscription. For any of you still foxed, the answers are on p.94.
And finally the sentence we wish we didn’t have to write: as from this issue the price of an annual subscription is going up by £8 (or less than the cost of a coffee per issue, if that feels any better!). We’ve managed to hold it steady for the past four years, and those of you who’ve been with us for a while will know that SF is never going to make us rich, and that we’re not out for the last penny. However, the costs of producing the magazine have rocketed to the point where, rather than compromise on quality, we feel we have no option but to raise the price.
We do understand that your costs must have rocketed too, but we hope you’ll stick with us if you possibly can and still feel you’re getting your money’s worth, which does include book discounts, our newsletters, podcasts and free access to all the articles in our online archive, plus the comfort and cheer that SF seems to bring – and when was that ever more needed?