Slightly Foxed – A Long Term Affair of books, Quarterly Magazines and so much more

Slightly Foxed – A Long Term Affair

My addiction, affair, attachment to the Slightly Foxed Quarterly, books and everything else began in about 2008 or 2009. I had spotted the Quarterly magazine in Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge, but was a bit confused as to what it actually was; a small booklet, full of articles about books? Not reviews of the latest titles or bestsellers, but older books, sometimes very obscure, or authors that I had barely heard of but sounded impressive.

It was only when we moved to a large village / small town in Northumberland that I found that I knew very few people and was at home virtually all the time. I once again happened on Slightly Foxed and ordered a copy of the latest Quarterly (it comes out Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter). I enjoyed it so much with its contents, tempting me to buy and track down books – classics by well known authors, books I had just about heard of, pieces about how books had inspired people, lingered in memories, entertained and enlightened at a significant point in the writer’s life. Some of the writers of the articles, short pieces, often with small illustrations, were well known in their own right, not necessarily for writing, while others were more obscure. Some of the pieces were less interesting, others gave real insight into the books they were writing about. If I had read the book or knew the author’s work well, they were significant, possibly giving more details as to why I had enjoyed them, others were just brilliant pieces. I ordered all the back copies up until that date; while not cheap they were always readable, especially if I could devote time to them.

We then discovered that Slightly Foxed were producing limited editions of autobiographies, beginning with Rosemary Sutcliffe’s “Blue Remembered Hills”, and my husband was able to order the first four all on the same number. Again, I believe they quite early on settled on four editions a year, and I have collected them ever since, all on the same number. They also produced various sets of books, often with an eye to children, also available as limited editions on “my” number. Thus, I have collected “The Carey Novels” by Ronald Welch, telling stirring tales of a family from the Crusades onwards from a family member’s point of view in 1095 through to a Tank Commander in 1918. There is also a set of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s books, including the wonderful “Eagle of the Ninth”, which my husband devoured. So many beautiful books, produced with loving care (there is a fascinating video of the making of a limited edition), a decoration for every home. Now many of the titles are available in unnumbered editions in various formats.

The other aspect of Slightly Foxed that I have especially enjoyed are the podcasts. They used to be monthly, now they are more spaced out and longer. We have greatly enjoyed them, listening to them in the car mainly. As I am not a great fan of podcasts and audio books generally, that is high praise. Many diverse – though always book related – topics have been discussed with guests. My favourite was the Golden Age of Crime edition, with Martin Edwards as a contributor to a wide -ranging discussion.

So the point of this essay is to introduce or remind you of the world of Slightly Foxed. Anyone can click on the link to read about the wonderous world of gentle book exploration and frankly, love. There is a free email newsletter which can be sent which includes pieces from the Quarterly and news of podcasts and offers as well as good natured book chat. You could buy a Quarterly or subscribe, back issues being available. If you live in the UK is obviously cheaper to receive a magazine through the post, though the good people of Slightly Foxed will post to most places in the world. They have many fans in far flung places! The latest issue, number 76, Winter 2022, is available for £12, which is a good taster. There are books, notebooks, bags and other wonderous items also available. Subscribing to the Quarterly also reduces the prices of many of these items, as well as giving access to digital back issues with a full index and subscribing for longer periods also reduces the price.

So Slightly Foxed is something I enjoy. Every book mentioned is given its publisher and cost, or SF will help track down copies of those no longer in print. All the items I have ever ordered have turned up in perfect condition and beautifully produced. It’s not a cheap hobby, but a genuinely comforting, reassuring and lovely bookish thing to collect. With friendly people on the end of the phone, talking on the podcast and sending out wonderful things, long may it continue!