Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Books do furnish a room: The House of Faber

London publishers Faber & Faber are celebrating their 80th birthday this year. Founded in 1929, and counting poet TS Eliot among its former editors (though he did drop the ball in rejecting George Orwell's Animal Farm, citing it as “Trotskyite” and “not convincing”), Faber have an impressive roster of writers on their books, not least in the field of poetry: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Philip Larkin, Simon Armitage. As part of their birthday celebrations Faber have issued six hardback volumes with specially commissioned woodcut covers. Designer Miriam Rosenbloom talks about her contribution here.

But that's not all, Faber Firsts are ten classic debut novels from the likes of Orhan Pamuk, Hanif Kureishi and Paul Auster, republished with new covers that reference past book jacket designs. And what great novels they are. Those interested in book cover design will want to check out book collector and writer Joseph Connolly's new book, reviewed recently in the Sunday Business Post:
‘And the covers! Oh my goodness, the covers!” Before he finished school, Connolly became a book collector, and later bought a specialist art and literature bookshop in London in 1975. He describes how his pulse quickened by the arrival of a Faber book.‘‘Sometimes I’d buy a book on pig breeding, say, or marrow growing or nursing - simply because it was published by Faber and had such a fabulous cover,” he writes. Paying extended tribute here to Berthold Wolpe - Faber and Faber’s resident book jacket designer from 1941 to 1975 - Connolly delights in Wolpe’s penchant for simple, striking graphics which complemented his artistic instincts and his love of rule-breaking.

And I haven't even mentioned the new Samuel Beckett's, have I?


The full range of Faber Firsts and Poetry Classics are available in Chapters now.

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