Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House

Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House❰BOOKS❯ ⚣ Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House Author Toby Faber – Bluevapours.co.uk Published to celebrate Faber's th anniversary, this is the story of one of the world's greatest publishing housesa delight for all readers who are curious about the business of writing

'The c Published to The Untold PDF/EPUB ã celebrate Faber's th anniversary, this is the story of one of the world's greatest publishing housesa delight for all readers who are curious about the business of writing'The creation Faber Faber: ePUB ✓ story of Faber is a striking dramaCelebrating its th birthday this year, Faber boasts a phenomenal roster of successesWhat stays in the mind are some brilliant vignettes' Sunday Times The names of Faber: The Untold PDF Ç T S Eliot, William Golding, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney are synonymous with the publishing house Faber amp; Faber, founded in Bloomsbury inBut behind these stellar literary talents was a tiny firm that had to battle the Great Depression, wartime paper shortages and dramatic financial crises to retain its independence This intimate history of Faber amp; Faber weaves together the most entertaining, moving and surprising letters, diaries and materials from the archive to reveal the untold stories behind some of the greatest literature of the twentieth century Highlights include Eliot's magnificent reading reports, Samuel Beckett on swearing and censorship, the publication of Finnegans Wake , the rejection of George Orwell's Animal Farm , P D James on tasting her first avocado, the first reader's response to Heaney's Death of a Naturalist , Philip Larkin's reluctance to attend poetry readings 'people's imaginary picture of you is always so much flattering than the reality' and the discovery of Kazuo Ishiguro The result is both a vibrant history and a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives'Ingeniously compiledone of the pleasures of this book is reading the early correspondences with writers who later became famousThe very picture of oldschool publishing, which, with its lunches and advances and cranky old booklined offices, is so cheerfully celebrated in this charming and quirky history' Evening Standard.

Is a The Untold PDF/EPUB ã The Untold Epub wellknown author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House book, this Faber Faber: ePUB ✓ is one of Faber Faber: PDFEPUB ² the most wanted Toby Faber author readers around the world.

Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House
    Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House tiny firm that had to battle the Great Depression, wartime paper shortages and dramatic financial crises to retain its independence This intimate history of Faber amp; Faber weaves together the most entertaining, moving and surprising letters, diaries and materials from the archive to reveal the untold stories behind some of the greatest literature of the twentieth century Highlights include Eliot's magnificent reading reports, Samuel Beckett on swearing and censorship, the publication of Finnegans Wake , the rejection of George Orwell's Animal Farm , P D James on tasting her first avocado, the first reader's response to Heaney's Death of a Naturalist , Philip Larkin's reluctance to attend poetry readings 'people's imaginary picture of you is always so much flattering than the reality' and the discovery of Kazuo Ishiguro The result is both a vibrant history and a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives'Ingeniously compiledone of the pleasures of this book is reading the early correspondences with writers who later became famousThe very picture of oldschool publishing, which, with its lunches and advances and cranky old booklined offices, is so cheerfully celebrated in this charming and quirky history' Evening Standard."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 400 pages
  • Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House
  • Toby Faber
  • English
  • 15 August 2019
  • 9780571339044

10 thoughts on “Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House

  1. Ryan says:

    I had certain fears about what kind of book this would be. It’s a history of Faber and Faber as filtered through a selection of letters from the firm's archive. The letters have been compiled and edited by the grandson of the firm’s founder.

    Uh-oh. A company wonk's in charge.

    There's also the enduring notion that Faber was founded by and run on behalf of old farts with no interest in the world beyond Oxford and London - a nursing home rather than a publishing house.

    I’m glad to say this wasn’t the case.

    I love the little details and facts that illuminate the bigger picture. At first the firm was best known for its nursing guides and was originally called Faber and Gwyer - the other Faber never actually existed, but the name had a loftier ring to it, and so Faber and Faber was born.

    The firm turned down Ted Hughes’ first book because a condescending editor assumed he was an American. When Hughes pointed out he was, in fact, English, an acceptance swiftly followed. Lord of the Flies was originally called ‘Strangers from Within’; the firm's reader, Polly Perkins, dismissed it as ‘rubbish and dull.’ Faber stalwart John Carey was offered his first contract for a book on Dickens by an enthusiastic editor. Behind his back, another editor called Carey perceptive but ‘arrogant and impatient.’

    Toby Faber mostly stays in the background, making the odd sardonic comment - the best of them all at Faber’s expense. You can almost see his eyes rolling at T.S. Eliot for rejecting Animal Farm, thereby also costing the firm the then-unwritten 1984. Faber also points out the firm has only employed two female directors in its history, and singles out the 80s as an era of ‘rampant chauvinism’ at the firm.

    One surprise is the sheer amount of humour. Early promotional material portrayed the firm as ‘Faberdum and Faberdee.’ A mock advert for the poetry list was headed ‘Sissy’. An acceptance letter sent to John Lloyd (the co-creator of Spitting Image) calls his work ‘in the worst possible taste’, ‘low-brow filth’ yet finishes ‘WE WOULD LOVE TO PUBLISH THE BOOK!’

    I admit that I didn’t find the book’s first 200 pages worthwhile. Endless letter about who owns what number of shares and what a bally good time was had at All Souls are perhaps not of general interest to most readers. But when editor Charles Monteith arrives in the mid 50s, the fireworks start. I should add my respect for Monteith’s abilities, already high, soared after I finished this book. How many editors today read the kind of magazine that lasts only 7 issues and offer one of its contributors a contract, as he did with John McGahern? Or take the trouble to write to a young Belfast schoolteacher off the back of three poems he’d published in the New Statesman - as he did with Seamus Heaney?

    Faber's material is a little thin from the 80s onwards - coincidentally the same time the firm pulled itself out of the stagnant funk it had spent the 70s in. Largely this is due to the efforts of editor Robert McCrum, who seems to deserve the credit Faber heaps upon him. Even if McCrum tells every waiter the same thing.

    I wish there'd been more between McCrum and this young writing student named Kazuo Ishiguro, and likewise with Garrison Keillor and Lorrie Moore. Oddly there's nothing from the other Americans Faber was publishing around the time - Jayne Anne Phillips, Stuart Dybek, Denis Johnson.

    Not the equal of Diana Athill’s classic ‘Stet’ but interesting nevertheless.

  2. Marcus Hobson says:

    What an unlikely gem of a book. As a book lover I know that I am likely to be interested in publishing but this must rank as a unique subject, being both an in depth history of a company from foundation to fortune as well as an insight into some publishing legends. It is a selection of letters, memos, catalogues and other archive material, patched together into a series of bite sized chunks to tell a riveting story.
    It would be fair to call this a trivia lovers handbook too, as it contains enough little snippets to satisfy the most avid pub quiz genius. There are insights and humour, as well as a reminder to every writer that there is an element of luck in getting your work into print.
    We begin with a laugh. “If you want to make a small fortune out of publishing, start off with a large one.” Joking aside, the first few years of what was then Faber and Gwyer were hard. Most income came from publishing magazines such as The Nursing Mirror, which allowed the fledgling company to make losses on the books it published.
    In an industry that today is comprised of so many amalgamated names clustered into the ownership of a mighty few, Faber and Faber stands alone in its small-time independence. It is still a company that is partly owned by its founding family, and I loved discovering that the suggestion that there were multiple Fabers involved was made up. There was only one Faber, Geoffrey, and the second was added to the name simply to lend kudos. The Gwyer family were bought out, with considerable difficulty and cost, allowing the firm to pursue its own literary path. Throughout its 90 year history Faber and Faber was guided by a series of distinguished and dedicated men, most notably in its early years by the poet and writer T. S. Eliot. It was down to his influence that Faber became the renowned publisher of poetry that it is today. More importantly, it was the annual revenue generated from his book ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ on which the musical ‘Cats’ was based and which continues to earn royalties from the show, that has kept the company afloat when others were being bought up and absorbed.
    While ‘Faber and Faber: The Untold story’ is rich in its historical narrative, its cabinet of literary curiosities brings the most satisfaction. These include both success and failure.
    In 1944 T. S. Eliot wrote to George Orwell, complimenting him on ‘Animal Farm’ but at the same time rejecting it because it was being rude about Britain’s Soviet allies. It was unlikely that post-war events could have been seen by all, but by rejecting this book Eliot was also turning down the unwritten ‘1984’.
    The novel which was to become ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding was almost consigned to the literary scrap heap. It had been read and the reviewer had scribbled “Rubbish & Dull. Pointless. Reject.” on the front cover. Charles Monteith, a new young editor at Faber was short of something to read on the train to Oxford and snatched the manuscript from the top of the ‘slush pile’ that day. Had he not done so, the world might never have seen Golding’s book and he might never have gone on the win the Nobel Prize for literature. This book is full of similar stories; the famous come and go and authors are lost or gained.
    Faber & Faber’s journey through the twentieth century overlapped with numerous banned books; James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ and D H Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ to name but two. There was an ongoing dialogue with Joyce about the publication of his books, and sensitivity about what could be published at the time of the Lady Chatterley court case. In a letter from Charles Monteith to the writer John McGahern in 1962 he writes; “We have no objection in principle to printing the word ‘fucking’ which is used occasionally in the dialogue and I don’t think that nowadays there would be any legal risk in doing so in this country.” But he goes on the warn the author that the use of the word will impair sales in the Provinces and to libraries, and is likely to lead to a complete ban on the book in the Irish Republic.
    Not only was Faber’s history linked to literary events, but also to the everyday in wartime London. They thrived and prospered in wartime, when it seems everyone was keen to read more despite the shortage of paper, the gradual thinning of the pages and the cripplingly heavy taxation on any company profits. There is a photo taken from the roof of Faber’s building of a hole in the road outside in which an unexploded bomb is sitting. Staff would be stationed on the roof during nights of the Blitz, watching for bombs. Thankfully the buildings in Russell Square were spared from direct hits, although they had to be reinforced to withstand the shock of bomb blasts.
    Faber is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and has been trailblazing with authors such as Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, William Golding, Lawrence Durrell, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiruro, Peter Carey, Harold Pinter and Philip Larkin. The editors and directors emerge as a group with a great sense of fun and love for what they were doing. My favourite letter was written by a director to his London Club in the early 1960s. It is the most humble and grovelling of letters, following an incident where other members had complained about his guest, the poet Thom Gunn. It seems that Gunn had just returned from several months in California and came to the club dressed in a fringed leather jacket and cowboy boots.

  3. Esther King says:

    This book seems a little like it missed the mark, and I was left wanting by it. While the snippets of letters and other such oddities were interesting for some of the book, I think it would have benefitted enormously from some editing, as well as further discourse from outside of the family ownership regarding the circumstances of the company. While I found out some fascinating stuff (like Eliot being a member of the board- I am probably the very last to that party, but still found it very cool), I thought this book simply lacked in a lot of other respects, and I wanted further commentary from sources outside those so closely involved.

  4. Sue says:

    This book traces the history of Faber & Faber from its beginnings through to the 1990s. It's an intriguing view of publishing from the inside. It includes letters, memos and diary entries.

    One thing that struck me was the beautiful writing style in the early letters. Geoffrey Faber, TS Eliot and so on all had a clear, articulate yet personal way of expressing themselves which was a joy to read. This clearly changed, in the 1980s in particular, when a more modern and more informal, less literate style of business writing emerged.

    I also noticed how many jobs, including directorships, were given out based on personal relationships - that old boys' network in full flow! Mostly though, to be fair, this seemed to work out quite well. The overall impression given in the book is that F&F was never primarily a profit-making machine. The founders wanted to publish good books, but they took a long view of building a reliable list and balancing new authors with reliable 'old hands' whose back list would provide a solid income for years to come.

    I was interested in the chapters that covered the war. The author describes how people wanted any and all the books they could get, as they wanted distractions during the bombing and many types of entertainment were drastically cut back. The rationing of paper meant that publishers were forced to use thinner paper and a smaller font. During the war people would still buy them but any remainders, after the war, were difficult to sell because people wanted the newer, glossier versions which became available again.

    Clearly the musical 'Cats' was a life-saver for the company and its profits kept the business afloat in difficult times when it would probably otherwise have folded. There are lots of interesting letters to and from authors who would go on to become famous, whether or not with F&F.

    I found the first half of the book by far the more interesting part. The passion felt by the founders comes across clearly, as does the courage of Geoffrey Faber to take business risks in order to build and grow the company. Directors and staff stayed with the company for decades, helping to shape its development. Later in the book I felt that some of the passion leached away, to be replaced by commercialism. All in all though, a good read!

  5. T P Kennedy says:

    This is very entertaining but seems like a missed opportunity. Faber is a fascinating business and there's a very good history to be written of it. This isn't it. It's a discursive collection of snippets of letters, minutes and other documents relating to the company and its history. These are well written and fun to read but it's all a bit local and gossipy. A good read but frustrating.

  6. Neil Oliver says:

    I did enjoy this collection of letters and sundries from the Faber archive. It gave a great insight to the company, characters and general business of Faber up to the late 60s. Some correspondence was laugh out loud funny. The choices and editing was well done. The later part if the book covering the period to 1990 was thinner and gave less I sought into that period. I dare say that as time went on the memos became less entertaining to the reader as Fabers fortunes changed and we get nearer to modern times and ways of working. The book ends suddenly in 1990 and I suspect times are too recent to be shared in public in the same way.

  7. Charles Monagan says:

    This is a history of the distinguished English publishing house, mostly as told through correspondence and journal entries. There are some good nuggets here (Philip Larkin pushing without success for Barbara Pym; a brutal first estimation of Lord of the Flies) and an interesting view of T.S. Eliot, who labored as a Faber & Faber editor even while composing his monumental poetry and plays. But much of the story here is devoted to the inner machinations of the company itself, the back-and-forth between Faber family members, shareholders, managers and editors. The author, a family member himself, is of course highly interested in all this, but it wears on the average reader after a while. I found myself skipping through many, many pages to get to the good stuff. Three-and-a-half.

  8. kerrycat says:

    I devoured this in less than a day, and what an absolute joy it was. This speaks directly to my academic/research interests, and included plenty of aha moments that left me smiling with the understanding of what incredibly important relationship was coming into being with the flourish of a pen. A must for readers interested in publishing history/Modernism (of course, this goes beyond, but if you are an Eliot fan, this correspondence is priceless).

  9. VG says:

    A very interesting history of the Faber and Faber publishing house, told through letters both internal and to authors, from its conception (when Geoffrey Faber moved into publishing) to the early 1990s. The small asides by Toby Faber provide much-needed context on occasion, and it is always fascinating to consider decisions with the benefit of hindsight.

  10. Sean Okeeffe says:

    An entertaining trawl through the archives of one of Britain’s most respected publishers. The material is engaging, but it takes skill to weave a coherent thread through it all. Enlivened by humorous asides, with some moving passages, particularly relating to the firm’s wartime travails. The reader gets a real sense of Britain’s changing cultural landscape. Highly recommended.

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