Friday, 8 August 2014

Victoria HallBack in the office after a peripatetic few weeks. One of the treats awaiting me was a selection of paste-papers from Victoria Hall for binding our forthcoming Selected Poems by Rupert Brooke. She sent about 40 variations which look wonderful together – it will be hard to choose just one design. The Brooke will be the first in a planned series of centenary editions of poets who died in the First World War, the others being Edward Thomas, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen. They will be printed letterpress and illustrated with auto-lithographs.

Also on my desk were some trial book blocks for The Duke’s Children marbled by Jemma Lewis (pictured above, top). Hand-marbled edges are a feature of fine bindings, especially from this period, but producing them is so time-consuming that we cannot have them on the entire run – but we intend to offer them as a (more expensive) option.

My travels in the USA were centred around the launch of the Letterpress Shakespeare in New York – reported in the Folio Footnotes blog.Calligraphy crop In addition, I visited a number of institutions in Boston, Baltimore and New York, and saw some delightful books which might become Folio limited editions. At Ars Libri, a superb art bookshop in Boston I saw several masterpieces of calligraphy, including this one by Jan van den Velde. It is absolutely stunning – and if anyone knows of similar work in English I’d be delighted to hear about it.

CurlewThen in New York, at the Arader Galleries – a treasure trove of fine plate books, atlases and heaven knows what else – I examined books by Eleazer Albin, the first notable compiler of highly illustrated natural history books. This plate of the curlew is from his Natural History of Birds published in 1731.

At the end of the beautifully printed text, Albin includes a note on the eating properties of the curlew. My next destination was St Kilda, whose inhabitants appear to have lived almost entirely off a diet of sea-bird meat, oil and eggs. The last indigenous inhabitants left the island in 1930, but there are still colossal numbers of sea birds, as you can see in this photo of Boreray.

St Kilda pic

Riddley WalkerI was delighted by the number of people who responded enthusiastically to the idea of a Folio Riddley Walker, and now it seems probable that we will go ahead with this for 2016. This title page, dedicated by Riddley himself, was sent to me by Quentin Blake – top drawer boath ways!

PS: Someone just sent me this photograph of a damaged manuscript – it’s clear who the culprit is!

damaged ms

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  • Nicholas Muir says:

    A Folio Ridley Walker? That would be interesting, and one illustrated by Quentin Blake could be amazing.

  • Philip Hurst says:

    Mr Whitlock Blundell,

    This sems to be the only portal where one can leave comments about Fokio Society books, so I am availing myself of your blog to send you a comment on the new Folio Society Collection, September 2014, which I have just received.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the recent confirmation that the remains found buried under a car park in Leicester are those of King Richard III, one of the Society’s new issues, in a most handsome binding, is Desmond Seward’s “Richard III: England’s Black Legend”. Indeed, the title alone tells us almost all that we need to know about this book. Covering two pages of the Collection catalogue, the blurb for Seward’s book is surprising in that it fails to mention anywhere that it is only a few years since the Folio Society published the seminal biography of Richard III by Paul Murray Kendall, at the time of its original publication the most comprehensive rebuttal of what you describe as the “traditional”, i.e., Shakespeare and Tudor propaganda, view of The Last Plantagenet King, which Mr Seward seems to share. A surprising and unfortunate omission, as without such a reference to your prior publication the blurb for Mr Seward’s version leaves one with the impression that the “debate” is now settled, and that the traditionalists have prevailed.

  • Joe Whitlock Blundell says:

    Dear Mr Hurst,
    Queries and comments about Folio Society books can be directed to But I have passed this to our Managing Editor, Johanna Geary, who responds:
    ‘Thank you for your comments regarding our recent publication of Desmond Seward’s Richard III. We are always interested to receive feedback about our books. Although we can appreciate your reservations about Seward’s biography, our decision to publish this edition was a careful one. In the past we have published books that paint Richard in a favourable light – as you point out Paul Murray Kendall’s biography was published by Folio in 2005, and more recently, as mentioned in the catalogue, Josephine Tey’s fictional treatment of the subject in Daughter of Time in 2006 (both are now out of print but we do continually review past publications as candidates for reissue). Given that Richard is such a popular and controversial figure, and that the debate about his character is as passionate as ever, we decided that our next publication on the subject should focus on the more traditional argument. Seward’s book received much praise when it was originally published in 1982, and he has now revised it for The Folio Society in light of the recent findings.’

  • Neil Shapiro says:

    I just ordered the hand bound edition of THE DUKE’S CHILDREN and am anxiously anticipating delivery. It looks beautiful and the hand marbling should set the volume off magnificently. May I ask, is this the first time that the Folio Society published a specially-limited edition within an overall limited edition? I.E. I see that this shares the numbering with the half-leather volume and will be made as demand warrants. Often publishers will stipulate a certain number of such within-edition limitations. For example, I have books that are lettered as an edition of 26 within an edition numbered 1 to 2,000. As you are doing this hand binding as ordered, will the Folio Society (please) share with us when the edition has been completed how many hand bound and marbled volumes were finally produced within the overall edition? Thank you!