This Folio Life: Looking back at our books of 2018

Last year saw Folio publish many amazing books: from old English poetry to Ursula K. Le Guin, to an original title from illustrator Charles van Sandwyk. With the first beautiful new books of 2019 to be revealed in the next few weeks, we cannot wait to introduce them to you.

Tom Walker, Publishing Director


Publishers always like to look forwards, but occasionally those of us who put together Folio’s books do enjoy revelling in what we’ve created; and looking back at the 2018 programme there is plenty to bask in.

Amongst my personal highlights was our limited edition of The Wanderer and Other Old-English Poems. I hugely enjoyed studying the Anglo-Saxon language at university so working with the eminent translator Michael Alexander on the text was pure pleasure. Alan Lee’s name is now inseparable from Tolkien, and it was a rare treat to be able to give him free rein to create such subtle, magnificent illustrations of some of the world’s great vernacular poetry. The book also had all the hallmarks of our own Joe Whitlock Blundell whose design expertise influenced 30 years of Folio’s books – this was a very suitable valediction.

The Wanderer & Other Old-English Poems, limited edition from The Folio Society

Folio books involve a unique alchemy of many different creative inputs, from the book and the author to the illustrator and the type designer, and harnessing all of those elements into a harmonious whole is an extraordinary process, and one I never tire of: it has the power to bring new life – and readers – to important books.

How to See Fairies, illustration by Charles van Sandwyk, The Folio Society 2018

Illustration by Charles van Sandwyk for How to See Fairies, The Folio Society 2018

Of the other titles I shall mention just a handful. I cannot omit The Left Hand of Darkness. It is a brilliantly written and unnervingly prescient book of gender and friendship, and after Ursula K. Le Guin died in January of last year I was very proud to publish an edition worthy of her legacy. How to See Fairies was another particularly joyful book, the elfish child of the inimitable Charles van Sandwyk and by some way our most popular book of the year. 2018 will also be defined for me by two mammoth non-fiction titles: Anglo-Saxons and Captain Cook’s Journals. The Folio alchemy was on full display with both of these, which bought important classic books buzzing to new life, as attested by the full separate volume of pictures for the former, and a superb fold-out map for the latter. We cannot ever have enough fold-out maps at Folio…

Fold out map for Captain Cook's Journals, The Folio Society 2018

The fold out map wth Captain Cook’s Journals, The Folio Society 2018

2019 is looking set to be a vintage Folio year and I can honestly say that some of the books I have secretly started to see are amongst the best in our 70-odd years of publishing. This February will start with a small selection of new science fiction and fantasy titles and I would love to hear your thoughts on them once they are announced. I have fallen head over heels for the lot.

It is a wonderful time to be in publishing. All talk of the death of the book 5 or 10 years ago has happily gone to the winds, not least because of the supreme efforts of publishers and booksellers to make the physical book a necessary and addictive object. Book design is a healthy art form. Folio has been perfecting the art of how to make the ideal book for more than 70 years, and funnily enough I think we have never been more relevant.  Folio has changed a huge amount even in the last decade since I joined, but the core principles remain the same: to facilitate that wonderful alchemy that makes books alive, which makes them sing with relevance.

The Anglo-Saxons, The Folio Society 2018

The Folio edition of James Campbell’s The Anglo-Saxons

As ever do comment below with any thoughts on our 2018 editions, or suggestions for what and how we might publish for 2020 and beyond.

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Comments from others

  • Nils says:

    Good overview of the last publishing year! The mentioned books sure are pretty. I’m looking forward to the small release of SF titles. Is this the moment more books of the Dune Chronicles are published? If not, that would be my request (I do get repetitive on this issue, I understand.) Looking forward to a new year of great selections by Folio and saving the money to buy them!

  • Stephen Lewis says:

    Suggestions for books to be published by the Folio Society: The Novels of Dashiell Hammett in a format similar to that of your Raymond Chandler set, The Octopus (Frank Norris), The Confidence-Man (Herman Melville), Fortunata and Jacinta (Benito Galdos).

  • John says:

    I would like you to publish the following
    1. Story of civilization by Will Durant
    2. Novels of Henry James
    3.Elements by Euclid
    4.Works of Plato, Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius
    5.Greek Tragedies

  • Patricia Har-Even says:

    Please publish an illustrated edition of Margaret Irwin’s trilogy about Elizabeth I, starting with ‘Young Bess’. It is a glorious, involving and romantic story, ending with the words: ‘The bookmakers of Europe were predicting six months for the young queen to keep her throne. And the time was running out’.

    I became addicted to this heroine at the age of 12 or 13; I’m a grandmother of 76 now but I have never forgotten the thrilling power of Irwin’s storytelling.

  • Anne Hutchison says:

    I just received my copies of “Anansi Boys” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” an hour or so ago. At first glance on screen, the artwork didn’t particularly appeal to me, but now that I have them in hand and can contemplate the imagery at my leisure, I’m very happy to have added them both to my library.

  • Eric Robinson says:

    Do you have any plans to republish the Patrick O’Brian novels – especially the second tranche?

  • Gregg Narber says:

    A wonderful 2020 limited edition of the USA trilogy of John Dos Passos with the Reginald Marsh illustrations is my biggest hope. Rumor is that Gene Wolfe’s New Sun books are also possible. Hope that is true!

  • Elijah says:

    Tarzan Of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Maybe some of the Saint’s short story collections by Leslie Charteris or some of the loosely related novel length adventures? The Scarlet Pimpernel by the Baroness Orczy? Some swashbuckling, fun stories would be nice. Hopefully the Bond series will continue as well. Or, for a darker twist, the original Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson?

  • John Consiglio says:

    I have collected all the Ian Fleming books released by Folio Society (including the old Live and Let Die), and I am wondering when James Bond fans can expect the next release and what it will be?

  • Pius Schroh says:

    When do your new publications come out of 2019?

  • Craig H. says:

    I think you have surmised Folio today very well. Books have never been more relevant, and no one is spearheading the quality and selection of fine literary works quite like Folio. Love the company, love the books.

  • Craig H. says:

    No one has done a fair printing of ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’. Would love to see the first three at least. And, of course, ‘Snow Crash’ by Stephenson. Timeless and you could do so much with the art, just go crazy!!!

  • sion williams says:

    Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman
    Widely lauded as a masterpiece, the 20th Century War and Peace . no hardback published since the 1st Edition in 1986. How about an edition with lots of maps and contemporary photographs?

  • Goran Djurin-Markovic says:

    Suggestion: Peace by Gene Wolfe. One of the greatest novels ever written.

  • Goran Djurin-Markovic says:

    I would like to add three books as a suggestion for the future:
    – “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy
    – The Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plains”)
    – “Suttree”


  • Justin Smith says:

    I would very much enjoy a Folio Society edition of “Alamut” by Vladimir Bartol.