News from Slightly Foxed: Attended by the seasons
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Slightly Foxed by Quentin Blake. Featured in the 2017 Slightly Foxed Calendar of Covers. Out now.

Attended by the seasons

The year is almost over, and what a year it’s been – from a sad goodbye to our bookshop in January to a very jolly 50th issue celebration in June. Now we’re delighted to be ending our 13th year on a high with a bestselling book! Our 36th Slightly Foxed Edition, Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979, has received rave reviews from the press and from readers all over the world, and the foxes are working around the clock to keep up with orders. We usually send all orders within a day or so but, what with our runaway bestseller and the usual Christmas rush, we’re currently working about 5 days behind schedule. If you’ve placed an order in the last 7 days and haven’t yet received your items, please be assured that they will be with you soon or in good time for Christmas, if a gift.

For any readers yet to experience the delights of Ysenda’s writingwe do recommend adding Terms & Conditions to your Christmas list. The second reprint of the Plain Foxed Edition is about to arrive (with a third reprint on order) and there is still a small stock of the limited Slightly Foxed Edition left. The limited edition has hitherto been reserved for subscribers to Slightly Foxed, but since reviews and orders keep pouring in we are now making the remaining copies available to all. Our Slightly Foxed Editions are delectably collectible so if you are a subscriber and haven’t yet ordered a copy, please do snap one up while stocks last. 

And now, from a latter-day mistress of comic writing to an oft-overlooked author from the past. We first published Dodie Smith's Look Back with Love as a Slightly Foxed Edition in 2012 and we have since reissued it as a handsome paperback. Writing in Slightly Foxed, Dodie’s biographer Valerie Grove describes Look Back with Love as ‘one of the happiest and funniest accounts of an Edwardian upbringing’. And indeed it is. Best known for her first novel I Capture the Castle, for the evergreen The Hundred and One Dalmatians, and for Dear Octopus, her 1938 play set at a family reunion, Dodie did not publish this account of her early life until 1974 when she was 78. Read on for an extract from Look Back with Love in which we join the 7-year-old Dodie as she makes her first ‘professional gesture’, and a few recommendations for presents and winter reading.

If you need help or have any questions about your order or membership, you can always phone the office on 020 7033 0258 and speak to one of us for more information, email Hattie on or write to us by post at 53 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB.

With very best wishes for a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year from the SF office staff
Jennie, Anna, Olivia, Hattie and Katy

Christmas Opening Hours
The office will close for Christmas on Thursday 22 December at 5 p.m.
and will reopen at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday 3 January.

Dodie Smith

Look Back with Love

Soon after half-term we began to rehearse for a performance to be given at the Old Trafford Technical Institute when the school broke up; there was to be a concert and a cantata called The Hours in which Morning, Noon, Evening and Night appeared with attendant choruses and sang for a solid hour at Father Time and the audience. I thought this a dreary business but was delighted to be one of the eight fairies who attended Morning. Unfortunately I caught a cold after the first rehearsal and when I returned to school my place had been filled. I wept when I told my mother and she instantly put on her new tricorne hat and went to interview Mrs North, with the result that a part was written in for me. I was to be ‘The Seasons’, in attendance on Father Time. Surprisingly, I was not pleased and still hankered to be one of the Dawn Fairies; I no longer went to the jolly chorus rehearsals, but had long sessions alone with the singing mistress who taught me a tuneless song about wandering through the meadows in every conceivable kind of weather, and objected to my habit of breathing just when I felt like it, often in the middle of a word. However, I cheered up when my mother made me a white velvet dress and Auntie Carrie Slater, who was said to have ‘a touch’ – no one could twist a scarf round a hat as she could – came in to help trim it. Artificial holly with frosted leaves was sewn round the hem, spring flowers strayed round the skirt, a small sheaf of corn lay across my chest but was removed because it was said to make me look old, wild roses trimmed the collar and I wore a wreath of forget-me-nots on my head. My mother said that to cram four seasons on one small child was too much, but I was delighted with myself, though the holly pricked my bare knees.

Father Time and I opened the cantata and when we walked on to the stage I was astonished at the brilliance of the footlights and the blackness of the auditorium, but I instantly felt elated and sang my song with enjoyment, breathing whenever I pleased. After the polite applause I settled down at Father Time’s feet to watch the rest of the cantata and enjoy the sensation of being on the stage with nothing to do but just enjoy being on the stage. In addition to savouring this for the first time I was particularly looking forward to seeing Mary Slater as Noon, with her wild gold hair flowing over a dress of yellow gauze, and Muriel Slater as Evening, pale and rather melancholy in mauve chiffon. (Muriel was said not to ‘put herself forward enough’.)

Father Time was not enjoying herself as much as I was. Her robe was heavy, her beard hot, her scythe unmanageable; and by the time Night entered with an electric torch in her hair, Father Time was breathing stertorously. There had been some bitterness about Night’s torch which was said to give her an unfair advantage, but it equalised matters by going out as soon as she started to sing. Soon after this, Father Time’s beard became entangled in her rope girdle and she asked me to hold her scythe; it was heavy and I fecklessly let it sway, threatening Father Time with decapitation. She eventually succeeded in detaching her beard from her girdle and also in partially detaching it from her face, playing the last scene with it under one ear.

When I got home my mother showed me a small, deckleedged programme pointing out the words:

Father Time ............ C. Schofield
Attended by the Seasons.

There was no mention of my name. My mother must have seen my face fall for she said, very sympathetically, ‘We were afraid you’d mind.’ But I assured her I didn’t mind at all. It was my first professional gesture. So have I seen professional actors behave when left out of a notice.

Some weeks before the end of the term my mother had said I had now brought home enough embroidered animals and paper mats and would I please tell my teacher that I was expected to be able to read by Christmas. The teacher then conducted a crash course in reading for the whole class and on the last day of term I could officially read. This meant that I had got through the last story in my Reader, two whole pages long, with only four mistakes. As I walked home to begin the Christmas holidays I felt awed at the thought of all the books in the dining-room bookcase which now lay before me: Shakespeare, the Bible, long rows of Dickens, Trollope, Lytton, The Life and Times of Lord Palmerston . . . but I began with a bound volume of Little Folks.

For days everyone was patient about telling me what the words I spelt out were, but this fairly soon palled, particularly on my uncles who now merely said, ‘Guess.’ It turned out to be good advice for I then entered an enchanted world. In one of Maurice Baring’s books he describes the pleasure of reading in a language with which one is not quite familiar, and I think I experienced a similar pleasure during those days when I could not quite read; my imagination had to do double work and every story was a little fuller than in the printed words.While I struggled with the syllables of fairy tales I visualised castles, landscapes and fantastic towns which the author had barely indicated. If a story was set by the sea I summoned seaside memories to help me guess puzzling words. I created atmosphere, projected myself into the characters I read about. I have re-read some of the stories of my early days as a reader and found them mere shadows of my memories of them, but my impressions were not false; they were amplifications which would, I think, have given pleasure to any of the authors, for authors know a much fuller world than they can get down on paper.

As soon as I was a little more proficient I tackled Shakespeare and never admitted to anyone how disappointing I found him, compared with Uncle Harold’s dramatic presentations. I was as fascinated as ever by the Kenny Meadows illustrations and was particularly taken with one of a lonely seashore on which stood a tomb with ‘timon’ engraved on it – I imagined it would be pronounced ‘Timmon’ as I already knew the name ‘Timothy’. For Christmas someone gave me a small red-leather bound copy of Coriolanus (why?) which I
proudly carried about with me for weeks, though unable to make head or tail of it. If anyone, on seeing it, asked me if I liked it (as I hoped they would), I replied, ‘Oh, quite well but I prefer Timmon of Athens.’

Though not particularly fond of fairy tales, I read all Grimm’s, disciplining myself by reading them straight through instead of dipping. Of that extremely large collection the only stories I still remember are the one about the youth who kept saying, ‘Oh, if I could but shiver!’ and the one about a witch who, having turned her enemy into a log of wood, says, ‘At last my fire burns brightly.’ It was the two phrases which so satisfied me. These stories seem to be omitted from modern editions and I have never been able to find an old edition that contained them. I did, after advertising, get a collection called Gamma Grethel, published in 1839, with exquisite illustrations, some by Cruikshank, but my two favourite stories are not there.

I also read Hans Andersen, a queerly-smelling old copy with mid-Victorian coloured illustrations. It had belonged to the aunt who had died in childhood and over the whole book there hung for me an atmosphere of death and misery. I was particularly depressed by ‘The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf ’ and then quite overcome by ‘The Mother’ – so was my own mother who, after reading it, took the book away from me, much to my relief. Had it remained with me I should have felt I had to go on harrowing myself. Still, I have tried to find that particular edition again; the picture of the angel with a flaming sword turning the child in the red shoes away from the church was terrific (and all my life I have loved red shoes).

As soon as they believed I could really read, my relations hastened to press their favourite books on me, feeling that as I shared most of their amusements I should share their taste in literature. A very early suggestion was Wuthering Heights, which I detested. I tried it again in my twenties and again in my thirties and liked it no better, and six months after I finish it I can never remember anything but an atmosphere of gloom; it just does not take on me. Had anyone offered me Jane Eyre I feel sure that I would have loved it. I failed to like the work of Mrs Henry Wood. Nan gave me a beautiful edition of David Copperfield, her favourite book; it wasn’t mine. I quickly took to Sherlock Holmes, but what I hankered for most were books about large families of children to whom nothing worrying ever happened (strange taste for a child who loved the most gory melodrama in a theatre). Little Women was nearly perfect; true, Beth died but one got over that after several readings. The Swiss Family Robinson was fairly satisfactory, but not until I discovered E. Nesbit did I find my ideal author. When I became a playwright, critics (not always with flattering intention) noticed slight resemblances in my works to Dickens, Barrie, Turgenev, Chekhov, Ouida and the author of The Young Visiters, but nobody commented on the profound influence of E. Nesbit.

One book my mother wished on me made a deep impression, even if I didn’t exactly enjoy it. It was The Lancashire Witches by William Harrison Ainsworth, inscribed ‘Nell, from Ernest’; it had been one of my father’s favourite books. In my mother’s mind it was linked with the once-wild country around her childhood home, Darley, and I felt it was somehow connected with the family. When I was quite grown up I cherished a belief that I had, in a previous life, been a witch and I had vivid memories of a tower on a lonely heath – until I re-read The Lancashire Witches and discovered that all my ‘memories’ derived from it. I had the run of a vast number of books and, apart from delivering me from Hans Andersen and also removing Struwwelpeter because, she said, it made her feel sick, my mother never censored my reading. She did, however, express anxiety when I became interested in the Bible; she said there were ‘some very nasty things in it’ – and how right she was.

She need not have worried. I adopted my Grimm’s discipline of starting at the beginning and going straight on, had the greatest difficulty with the dedication to King James, and eventually bogged down altogether in the building of the tabernacle. Not until twenty years later did I read it from cover to cover.

© Dodie Smith 1974

Slightly Foxed Paperbacks 

‘These pocket-sized little chunks of perfection are the most beautifully made paperbacks I’ve ever had the pleasure to own . . . They make reading on a device seem like the most depressing possible compromise.’ – Eric Heywood, Book/Shop

From £11 per title
Set of any 3 titles from £30
Set of all 9 titles from £90

Browse and buy paperbacks
Book Bags & Goods
 A ‘Magazine Renaissance’

We were recently informed by magazine enthusiast Jeremy Leslie on BBC Radio 4 that we are living through a ‘Magazine Renaissance and that independent magazine publishing (and especially literary magazine publishing) is now very trendy. We find this revelation rather bemusing as Slightly Foxed is rather more tea, musty books and proper dogs than kale crisps and pugs. As we reach the end of our 13th year, we’re rather proud to be middle-aged.

Anyway, enough about us! In the spirit of community and Christmas cheer, this month we’d like to share three of our favourite younger magazines (and one rather older one) with you. There’s a slow journey back through the news with 
Delayed Gratification, an exploration of the natural world with Elementum Journal, a great adventure with Lodestars Anthology and a whole world of children’s books with online periodical Books for Keeps. We do hope youll find them of interest. Please read on to discover more, as well as information about accessing the Digital Fox and the Slightly Foxed Index, and the usual selection of recent comments from readers.

A Journal of Nature & Story

Elementum is a new, independent coffee-table journal that explores our connection to the natural world. It is for the curious and questioning, for lovers of art and story, for those as open to understanding the world told through ancient myth as explained through scientific research. Published three times a year, each edition is guided by a different theme.

Edition 2 (published this week) explores the idea of ‘gap’ – writer Philip Marsden sets sail around the far-western coasts of Ireland in search of islands real and imagined, while filmmaker Jane Darke walks the littoral line between sea and shore, and Rob Cowen and Wyl Menmuir discuss the abandoned places on our doorsteps that offer a taste of wildness. We take to the air with the owl and plunge into deep water with artist Vivienne Rickman-Poole. Colin Taylor (better known as the Scilly Sergeant) reminisces about mackerel fishing as a boy, and we include the evocative work of renowned artist and illustrator Catherine Hyde. 

If you enjoy reading about the natural world with a touch of folklore thrown in, appreciate beautiful imagery, informed writing and high quality print then Elementum is a perfect new addition to your library.

Single issues from £15
Subscriptions from £45

Receive a complimentary Humpback Whale Fine Art print by Rebecca Clark with all subscriptions.

Lodestars Anthology

Lodestars Anthology is an independent magazine-meets-journal for curious travellers who long to be inspired, see the world and meet interesting characters along the road. Focusing on one country per issue, it is a scrapbook of place, getting to the heart of a location and uncovering its quirks, charm and splendour. It’s a beautifully produced  publication all about creativity, travel and exploration – one you’ll ideally like to keep atop a coffee table. Or filled with scribblings and safely stored in your suitcase.

Issue 6, Canada is out now and 2017 will see the release of publications on Japan, France and New Zealand. So go on. Pack a bag, hit the road and start your adventure.

Use the code FOXED at the checkout for 20% off all orders. *valid until 18.12.16

Single issues from £12
Subscriptions from £38

Delayed Gratification

This Christmas, why not give your loved ones the gift of a slower, smarter approach to the news? Give the gift of Slow Journalism this Christmas and save 15%.

Delayed Gratification is the world’s first Slow Journalism magazine. It’s a beautiful printed quarterly publication which revisits the events of the previous three months to see what happened after the media spotlight moved on. Every issue of the magazine contains investigative reporting and beautiful photo features which tell the stories others have missed – or mistold. In these days of rolling 24/7 news and Twitter-driven reporting it’s a refreshingly intelligent, perceptive and important read.

With this special Christmas offer, discounted annual subscriptions to Delayed Gratification start at just £30.60.

Use promotion code ‘Slowxmas16’ when you sign up here. Slow news is good news!

Keep up to date with the world of children’s books with Books for Keeps

Founded in 1980, Books for Keeps is the leading children’s books magazine, in Philip Pullman’s words, ‘the most important periodical in the world of children’s books’.

The magazine is published bi-monthly on the Books for Keeps website and features interviews, articles and reviews of books for children of all ages, baby to teen, as well as reviews of books about children’s books. The website is regularly updated with news, comment and more author features, making Books for Keeps the place to go in order to know what is happening in the world of children's books. The magazine is free to read online, and subscribing to the free email newsletter will ensure you are alerted to each new issue. The latest issue includes a round up of the best books for Christmas, and books of the year.

The Digital Fox

If you are a print subscriber to Slightly Foxed you can access the digital edition and full archive of back issues for free. If you don’t know your membership number, please get in touch with Hattie:

+44 (0) 20 703 0258


Our readers write

Your letters, emails, cards and phone calls bring us great cheer throughout the year. Here is a just a small selecion of recent favourites. 

‘Keep up the good work you literary rock stars.’ F. Thoms, New South Wales
‘Of course I have a reasonably large library of books but what I enjoy about your reviews is, although I may have the source of the review, it’s extremely interesting to have a different view point and one to think about. And also, of course the overall choice is stimulating and delightful.’
J. Deckker, London
SF is indispensible on my frequent trips to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius . . . I am always relieved after dealing with ‘boring’ board papers to dive into the stories in SF – uplifting, interesting and leading on to other books (many out of print, alas).’ G. Steffens, South Africa

‘Sorry to be a pedant but Jeremy Lewis is not quite right when he states that the Land Registry offices were in Lincoln’s Inn. They were, in fact (and still are) in Lincoln’s Inn Fields which is not quite the same. I know because I worked there from 1961 until 1975 where I met my wife. I never met the ‘Titian-haired Arthur Sullivan’ mentioned in Richard Church’s memoirs but my wife did. He was quite a character and today would be described as the CEO of the Land Registry. He was white-haired by the time my wife met him and known throughout the office as ‘Spike’. Apparently he had the habit of staying late in the office and looking for problems and presenting them to the offending staff the next morning! Still enjoying the magazine immensely. Best wishes to you all you ladies in Hoxton Square.’ B. Fearon, Devon

‘Thanks for all that you do
in these turbulent times to lose oneself in SF and travel its multifarious paths is just the antidote I think we all need thank goodness for you all. Many thanks.’ S. Nicholls, Colchester
‘Over the last week I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the recent Slightly Foxed newsletter, and now I have the challenge of deciding which of the many enticing books I should read next
and making the time to read them. Thank you also for letting me know about the other books by Adrian Bell I'll put in an order for the Silver Ley.’ M. Grant, London
‘Reading the Ronald Welch books again, after a gap of some forty years or more, is such an absolute pleasure. I'm so glad that SF took on the challenge of bringing them back in a new edition. Thanks again for your fantastic customer service and these beautifully produced books. Fingers crossed for more to come (please do keep badgering your Editor!).’ A. Bown, Loughborough

‘I wanted to write to say how much I enjoy Slightly Foxed. I work in book publishing as a literary agent, and have been picking up issues since I moved near the shop in South Ken three years ago. Without exception, every installment contains such wonders and curiosities, all beautifully written but with a reassuring sense of levity. We recently took out a subscription for the literary department here, and my colleagues have become equally ardent admirers. Thank you for such a lovely addition to our bookshelves.’ J. Rodgers, London

‘I cannot resist writing as like Nicola Shulman I too went to the Mitford Colman school in I suppose 1947 which is a bit of a giveaway! One of my classmates was the actress Anna Massey. The two Mitford Colman sisters, one large and fluffy and the other bone thin were terrifying to someone who had never been to school and been taught by her mother the subjects we both enjoyed from Our Island Story, and A Child’s Garden of Verses and botany. My undoing was custard – we first ate in a British Restaurant in Eaton Square, don’t ask, and then at the school. I still go green if custard appears. I was rescued when the Francis Holland reopened nearby. I am looking forward to reading Terms & Conditions!’ J. Staughton, Hertfordshire

‘I would just like to say how delightful you all are to deal with and everything you do is such a joy’ A. Fisher, Northumberland


From Abbey, Edward to Zweig, Stefan

The Slightly Foxed index is an invaluable tool for navigating your collection of back issues or deciding which issues to catch up with and our new interactive online index is now live. We hope you’ll enjoy using it.

Jennie’s project for the New Year is to add all the articles from back issues and link them up to the index so you can read the full archive on our website as well as via Exact Editions and the Slightly Foxed app, and send single articles to fellow booklovers too. Watch this space. 

View the index

Last Posting Dates for Christmas 

Air Mail 

Saturday 10 December
Greece, Australia, New Zealand 

Wednesday 14 December
Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland 

Thursday 15 December
Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA 

Friday 16 December
Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland 

Saturday 17 December
Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg 


Tuesday 20 December
2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For 

Wednesday 21 December
1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For 

Thursday 22 December
Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed

The recommended posting dates for any destinations not listed above have now passed, but we will happily take orders up until 22 December, to be sent anywhere in the world.

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Slightly Foxed · 53 Hoxton Square · London, London N1 6PB · United Kingdom