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First published to celebrate Faber’s 90th anniversary, this is the story of one of the world’s greatest publishing houses – a delight for all readers who are curious about the business of writing.
‘A striking drama.’
‘Never less than fascinating.’
‘This book will fascinate anyone with an interest in twentieth-century literature . . . a treasure trove.’
‘The details here do consistently shine.’
NEW YORK TIMES
‘Ingeniously compiled . . . charming and quirky’
Told in its own words, this is the story of one of the world’s greatest publishers, capturing the excitement, hopes and fears of the people who published and wrote the books that line our shelves today. Including archive material from T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, P. D. James, Kazuo Ishiguro and Philip Larkin, this is both a vibrant history and a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives.
The creation story of Faber itself is a striking drama . . . What stays in the mind are some brilliant vignettes: Monteith writing to the Travellers’ Club secretary to apologise for his lunch guest Thom Gunn’s fringed leather jacket and cowboy boots (“Mr Gunn has for the last few years lived in California”); CP Snow’s insufferable conceit (“Impress on your people that I am unusually readable for a serious novelist, and that quite simple people find it so”); and Geoffrey Faber, fire watching in the 1940s and, from the Faber roof, seeing London ablaze.
A quirky history of the firm that has an unrivalled author roster . . . This is not a conventional chronological tale; Faber dips liberally and entertainingly into the company archives, reproduces letters and previously unseen photographs, as well as forays into jacket design and his own memories to paint a vivid picture of a publishing.
This book is more than self-serving corporate history, and that is largely down to Toby Faber’s light touch . . . The result is a kind of epistolary history that has the considerable advantage of letting us hear from the authors in their own voices . . . The most compelling of these voices belongs to TS Eliot . . . Reading Eliot’s correspondence with writers, his internal reports and his catalogue copy is never less than fascinating . . . [A] heartening story: how an independent family publisher with high literary standards survived and thrived by catering to a readership that wanted more than disposable fiction. For someone who loves literature, it is a consoling thought.
[Toby Faber] has managed to piece together the history of this peculiarly British institution in such a way as to lift the lid on some of the more surprising and, occasionally, unedifying goings-on behind the scenes, while at the same time stopping short of doing anything to diminish its mistique. This book will fascinate anyone with an interest in 20th century literature, but as well as being a treasure trove of anecdotes and insights it is also a surprisingly readable history of a remarkable company.
Fascinating . . . [Toby Faber] deals fairly with the personalities, conflicts, failures and courageous decisions that shaped the firm. His format is fascinating . . . Filled with brilliant cameos, this is for anyone who wonders what publishers actually do all day.
Alive to the fact that most publishing commemoratives are dull to the point of stupefaction, Toby Faber has taken the oral history route, constructing a narrative out of correspondence and diary entries, with his own interpolations primed to supply context . . . For an official history [Faber & Faber is] agreeably even-handed.
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