Read on for news, forthcoming publications, events and more . . . 
We will soon be ten! Indeed, we can’t quite believe it ourselves, but the publication of our 41st issue in March will mark a decade in print. Whilst here in the office we look ever forward to the new publications and celebrations the coming years will bring, the chance discovery of the printers’ delivery note for Issue 1 of Slightly Foxed has cast our minds back to how it all began. As Gail and Hazel wrote in their first editorial in the spring of 2004:
‘Welcome to the first issue of ‘Slightly Foxed’, the magazine for adventurous readers – people who want to explore beyond the familiar territory of the national review pages and magazines, and who are interested in books that last rather than those that are simply fashionable. We plan to bring you, each quarter, a selection of books that have passed the test of time, that have excited, fascinated or influenced our contributors, and to which they return for pleasure, comfort or escape; the kind of books that sell steadily and quietly to those who know about them . . . in other words, to strike a blow for lasting quality, for the small and individual against the corporate and mass-produced – and we are delighted that you have decided to join us.’
A decade later, going strong, this is still our ethos and we give thanks to you for your support along the way. Some of you have been with us from the beginning; others are new to the Fox but we appreciate you all. The Spring issue, whose pages are currently being folded, trimmed and nipped at the printers in Yorkshire, will soon be with us, but meantime let us elope to Edwardian Egypt with Priscilla Napier in her memoir, A Late Beginner, one of ‘Debo, Duchess of Devonshire’s favourite books.

The backdrop to Priscilla Napier’s childhood was Egypt; the golden years of the Edwardian age were coming to an end, the First World War just around the corner, but for the confident, buoyant upperclass English of her parents’ world the sun would never set upon ‘the regimental band playing selections from HMS Pinafore under the banyan tree’. This wonderful recreation of a time and a climate of mind – a hundred years ago, one realizes, startled – is not just an evocation of place but also of the child’s eye view. A Late Beginner ranks quite simply with the greatest accounts of how it is to be a child, to see with that strange, skewed, uncontaminated vision . . . 

. . . Childhood is universal; circumstances may vary wildly, but the child’s eye view remains very much the same – without preconceptions, without expectations, simply absorbing and recording. Priscilla Napier’s eye was maverick and astute; she had the advantage of spending those crucially perceptive years in an exotic and complex country. And she was a child at the point when, as we can now see it, a particular era was coming to an end. The good fortune of her readers is that she was able to find such a beguiling and compelling voice with which to tell her story. 
Extracted froSlightly Foxed Issue 21, Spring 2009 © Penelope Lively

Chapter VIII
My mother and her sisters were true Victorians; not in a general way frightened of battle, murder, and sudden death, but perfectly terrified of insects. Opening her first Egyptian orange to find it full of life, she had been unable to eat another orange for several years. There had been a shattering moment on her first day in our newly built house in Zamalek, when a praying mantis alighted in her open cabin trunk. With a wild cry she shut the lid and locked the trunk and piled it high with heavy dictionaries until my father’s return from work. A mole-cricket was a thing she could not bring herself to think about. She never lost her horror of the large Egyptian black beetles in the garden, nor for that matter did I, and could always be routed by William brandishing one. The discovery of a scorpion in the nursery toy cupboard was, I think, kept from her.
    ‘Come and look, Nanny, what there is! A tiny little lobster in one of the dolls’ tea cups.’
    There it sat, registering apparent good will, and caused a furore. Mohammed and Ahmed were summoned; and even they looked serious and alarmed and repeatedly shook out their long galabiehs during the hunt. Once, thrillingly, there was a cobra at the grotto, and earlier still, on a picnic to the pyramids, May had been found by Nanny to be playing with a scorpion, poking it idly with a small stick, totally unaware of its potency. She was forcibly impressed with the narrowness of this escape.
   ‘Within three inches of death,’ she kept saying to Nanny at nursery breakfast next morning, ‘I was within three inches of death.’
    ‘Oh well,’ Nanny said comfortably, ‘I daresay we’ve all had narrower escapes than we know.’ She poured May out another cup of tea. The sun streamed in through the open fly-netted sewing-room window. ‘Elbows off the table, William Badenough,’ for William’s second name, which was Goodenough, was a source of endless nursery wit.
    All the same, it was an impressive thought, and I was impressed too, although death at this time held no terrors. All was clearly arranged in my mind. When the summons came I would carefully climb up an endless long ladder stretching high into the brilliance of the blue Egyptian sky. Far below, the goats, poor fellows, would all be streaming off disappointedly over the Zamalek bridge in the general direction of Em-baba. The judgment seat of God was, inexplicably, sited at the tram stop on the near side of the bridge. Emphatically numbered amongst the sheep, I would be wearing my best lace petticoat, a flannel petticoat with scalloped edges, and a pair of best knickers with pink ribbon threaded through them. Closely behind me would follow May, clad in her Sunday dark blue skirt and white blouse, carrying my best dress and pink sash over one arm. (No one in their senses climbs ladders wearing their best dress.) On a sort of crystal railway platform at the top we should pause, while May put on my dress and tied my sash. Here a slight doubt rose, the perennial question of whether or not one wears a hat. Could Heaven be classified as church or home? What May did after discharging her essential function was also a little uncertain, but she probably faded into the middle distance where she would for ever remain, peacefully turning down celestial night-nursery beds.

. . . 
This was the winter of the locusts, the winter of the Australians; difficult to say which arrival was more exciting. The locusts came first, appearing in an arrowhead of glittering diamonds against the azure brightness of the sky, against the noonday blaze of the sun. Soon the air was thick with them, a million darting splinters of red glass. What was worse was that they were beginning to settle. An atavistic panic fury seized on the entire household. My parents were out, and Nanny was looking after Alethea, but everyone else stopped doing everything and set about the locusts; capturing, stamping, netting, banging, and knocking them out with brooms. The cook stopped cooking and Ena stopped ironing. William tore about with his butterfly net, enraptured by this rich and solid prey. Ismaïn was in the forefront, his helpers raged furiously to and fro. Even Mohammed lost his massive calm, his grave upper-Nile dignity. Ahmed and Suliman and the marmitone were beings possessed. They ran about the newly dug and dusty field between us and the bridge, with their galabiehs flying wildly. Their arms flailed; sweat streamed from the bronze foreheads under their tarbooshes; they uttered wild Nilotic pre-Arabic cries. By their frenzy we were given to understand that it would be our survival or that of the locusts. Sanction was thus given to that unslaked passion for inflicting death that lurks in more human hearts than would like to think it did. Slaughter on a great scale was accomplished amidst cries of rapture and yells of hate and triumph. Provided with a small string tennis racket, I laid about me with a right good will. Whang, bang, whoosh! All was dust, heat, effort; all was whizzing and whirling and buzzing; all was unity and clamour and a great sighing release of aggression as we battled against this seemingly unstoppable foe. Onward Christian soldiers, whang, whoosh, bang! When the swarm had passed and the gardens were more or less saved and this jolly orgy was over, Nanny could be seen, unruffled in her starched apron, drying William’s wild black hair with a bath towel, a reproving and civilized expression on her face.
    ‘Time for rest, Priscilla dear.’
    Rest. Hated, hateful word. ‘Look at your pinafore, too. You’d better put her right in the bath, Ena.’
    ‘Can’t I look at a book?’
    ‘No book today; you didn’t finish your egg at breakfast.’
    Hated rest. Nothing to do but twist the folds of the mosquito net between one’s toes. Hateful boring rest. The carving on the top of the wardrobe looked like two open-mouthed sharks converging on a small round boy. Could he ever get away? Must the sharks get him?
    ‘Can’t I look at a book now?’
    ‘No, dear. I’ve told you. Rest flat on your back. It’s time to rest.’
    ‘I am sorry, Nanny,’ I said, years later, it seemed, ‘but if Heaven is Eternal Rest, I am not going there.’
    ‘And that’s no way to talk, either.’
    Religion was dangerous ground with Nanny. One could not, as with one’s parents, say anything, any time. Nanny’s lips had a way of folding up, forbiddingly. The first time I heard the word Alleluia I was so enchanted with it that I spent ten minutes leaping up and down on the armchair in the far corner of the drawing-room loudly pronouncing it.
    ‘Don’t do that,’ Nanny said, when she found me. Her voice had an edge.
   ‘Alleluia!’ I said, leaping higher. The springs sent one up and up, the sensation was glorious. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! It was highly enjoyable; I wanted never to stop.
    ‘I said don’t do that,’ Nanny said again, more sharply.  ‘You’ll break the springs.’ But one could tell it wasn’t that she minded. ‘Alleluia! Alleluia!’ I said, boring of it very slightly but drawing her on. ‘All-el-uia-a-a!’
    ‘That’s a holy word,’ Nanny said, ‘not to be bandied about in play. I would think you’d know better.’ She took me by the arm quite brusquely and led me off to have my face washed although we both knew that it was perfectly clean.
© Priscilla Napier, A Late Beginner
This title is available as a Slightly Foxed Paperback. Please see below to order.

A Late Beginner
Priscilla Napier
Priscilla Napier grew up in Egypt during the last golden years of the Edwardian Age – a time when, for her parents’ generation, it seemed the sun would never set upon ‘the regimental band playing selections from HMS Pinafore under the banyan tree’.

UK: £12
Europe: £14
RoW: £15

All prices inc. p&p

New in paperback

The Young Ardizzone
Edward Ardizzone
There can be few author-illustrators whose books are remembered – and still read – with such affection as those of Edward Ardizzone. And affection is the keynote of this charming memoir, which brings alive in words and pictures the comfortable Edwardian world in which Ardizzone grew up.
UK: £12
Europe: £14; RoW: £15

All prices inc. p&p

Last chance!

2014 Calendar

Our delightful limited-edition calendar has been selling fast, but we still have a few copies left. It’s a handsome, spiral-bound calendar featuring 12 of our favourite Slightly Foxed covers. With £5 off the original price, it’s a real steal.
UK: £7.50
(was £12.50)
Overseas: £9.50
(was £14.50)
All prices inc. p&p
While stocks last!

From Austen to Zweig . . .

via Bates, Conrad, Dahl, Eden, Faulkner, Gissing, Huxley, Ishiguro, Joyce, Keats, Larkin, Mitford, Nooteboom, Ondaatje, Pepys, Ruskin, St Aubyn, Tolstoy, Vidal, Woodhouse & Yourcenar, among many others . . .

The new Index to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly (Spring 2004 - Winter 2013) was sent to all subscribers with the Winter issue and its also available to read on our website.
If any readers would like to be sent a printed copy, drop Olivia Wilson (our new SF staff member) an email at with your address and she’ll pop a copy in the post to you.

Books galore!
Our foxy fellows at Slightly Foxed on Gloucester Road are in full January spirit. They’re offering free postage on all online orders over £20 - simply check out using the coupon code JANUARY. And for those who prefer to browse in person, please do pop into the shop and enjoy a 10% discount off everything until Friday 31 January.

NB This offer does not apply to the main Slightly Foxed website.

Calling all bookish Sixth formers!

The Connell Guides’ Essay Prize is open for submissions and William Boyd will be judging the competition.

What do I write? Well, much like the reviews in Slightly Foxed, you should write a piece on a novel, play, or poem that’s made an impact on you, explaining why you find it interesting and enjoyable.

The winner will receive a handsome £1000 cash prize and each of five runners-up will receive a £100 book token. The prize is open to all Sixth form pupils in the UK studying English Literature as part of an AS Level, A Level, Pre-U, Advanced Higher or IB Course. The entries will be shortlisted by a panel chaired by Jolyon Connell and the novelist William Boyd will choose the winner and runners-up.
The closing date for entries is Friday 28 March 2014.

For more details, and to enter, please visit:

New Year, New Slipcase

Do you have a penchant for delectable collectibles? Then we think you will find the elegant Slightly Foxed slipcases irresistible. Our smart slipcases are made from strong board and are covered in a handsome dark grey book cloth. Each one holds four issues of the quarterly and is both practical and decorative.

There are savings to be made if you buy more than one slipcase. Please click the buy button to be taken to a full list of prices on our website.

We love to receive news, photos, and stories of our fox on his travels. In the last six months he has been spotted in places as far flung as Illinois, Shanghai, New York, Paris and even the Antarctic. If you’ve taken the fox on an adventure, or spotted a foxed display in a bookshop, we’d love to hear about it, so send us a photo and a short description and keep an eye on this page for an appearance in due course.

This month, the fox has been spotted state-side, East & West.

Slightly Foxed in Seattle

Slightly Foxed in New England

For the full range of Slightly Foxed Editions, Paperbacks, Cubs and all things Slightly Foxed, please visit our online shop.
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