Our new issue of Slightly Foxed arrived, No 53 for Spring 2017. It is always compulsive reading for anyone who likes books and reading. Scattered among the articles are occasional attractive illustrations tied to the essays, and occasional (often foxy) vignettes floating free. A pleasure to see this lino-cut from John Watson, a favourite illustrator for Incline Press.
We have just finished printing a broadsheet that features another of John’s images on our website. A lino-cut portrait of Anthony Burgess illustrates a previously unpublished poem on censorship by the author of A Clockwork Orange. Made into a frame-able broadsheet it celebrates the hundredth anniversary of his birth this February.
Watson also made the illustrations for our latest book. Two Poems (Temerity and At Montmartre Cemetery) is written by Adam Thorpe, another British ex-pat and man of letters, who is not only acclaimed for his poetry but is also know as the author of novels such as Ulverton and non-fiction, perhaps most famously, On Silbury Hill. Two Poems includes eleven of Watson’s evocative lino-cuts.
- Making labels for pricing isn’t really the most interesting of letterpress printing jobs, and I suppose that is why this is the first time I’ve bothered. Back in the heyday of commercial letterpress printing it would be the sort of work that would be farmed out to a specialist printer, but not if you need them immediately. And I am generally willing to make exceptions for myself. So here we are, Scotch Roman in 24pt. They dried overnight and went on bagged copies of the second printing of STONES by Matthew Hollis, and were off in packages for the Cheltenham Literary Festival and the Bridlington Poetry Festival. Handsome they look too.
It was a pleasure to join Jerry Cinamon, author of E R Weiss : the Typography of an Artist, at the Letter Exchange in London on March 12th. I talked about how the book was put together, and Jerry explained the significance of Weiss’s work and its context. There is an illustrated report of the meeting at http://www.letterexchange.org/
It’s a busy time of year in Manchester. The Christmas Fair is in full swing in the increasing number of traffic-free streets in the city centre, its stalls delighting us with prize-winning cheeses from Preston, decorated coffee mugs from the Fire Station in Salford, freshly baked coconut macaroons, and many such earthly delights. In the atrium at the John Rylands Library on Deansgate is more, an exhibition of portraits of recent collaborators and patrons of the library. Portrait of a Living Archive, which runs until 13 January in the New Year, is the work of two of Rylands’ staff photographers, Gwen Jones and James Robinson. This exhibition turns the traditional image of a library as musty shelves and old books on its head, showing instead a few of the people who insure that Rylands continues to develop.
A portrait of Graham is included in the exhibition. Like the others, it aims to show its subject in his working environment. This photo, which perhaps gives a bit too much prominence to our Skipper, was one of the rejected proofs, so we persuaded Jamie to let us have a copy to show here. Although the portrait in the exhibition excludes Skipper, it includes a fair slice the workshop.
Other portraits show bookbinders Dominic Riley and Paul Delrue; Eleanor Crawford and Michael Schmidt of Carcanet Press, Manchester calligrapher Stephen Raw, who designs many of their book covers, and the authors Mary Griffiths and Robyn Marsack. Carcanet’s archive is housed in the Library. Poets Elaine Feinstein and Grevel Lindop, whose archives are also in the Library, are included in the exhibition, as is Vona Groarke. Each of the portraits is accompanied by a short autobiographical statement. Vona, whose archive in the Library is classified as Accession 9, Box 4, offered a poem with that title, which Gwen and James have reproduced to stunning effect high on the atrium wall. It will be published as our twentieth New Year Book early in January.
Printing sermons is not usually our sort of lark, but that’s our current project for the Laurence Sterne Trust. Working on it reminds us of our enthusiasm for what Francis Meynell called “allusive typography”, the art of designing a book to recall, or allude to, another typographical era. This is not facsimile printing, the task of slavishly following someone else’s design, but something we think is more fun–using historic typographic conventions as inspiration for a current project. For the printed style of The Case of Hezekiah and the Messengers, one of Laurence Sterne’s last sermons, we’ve drawn on other 18th-century printed sermons, including this small volume of Sterne’s sermons which were published in 1766 under the name of Mr Yorick, Sterne’s clerical alter ego in Tristram Shandy. For this first separate edition of the sermon, we have kept the Caslon type of the original, the sometimes curious punctuation and Sterne’s emphatic dashes, but dispensed with the long s and the catchwords at the foot of each page. As well as this print version of the text, Hezekiah is going to be delivered at York Minster as part of Voice from the Pulpit in celebration of the Laurence Sterne Tercentenary, and is available with other sermons on a CD from Shandy Hall.
The sermon speaks directly to our times – As his monument in Coxwold churchyard reads in part:
Sterne was The Man, who with gigantic stride
Mowed down luxuriant follies far and wide.