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The Faber Finds imprint has a new design as of its July 2011 titles, and in honour of same this site and its current and future contents has migrated to a new online home with a fresh design look of its own, mirroring the books themselves and thus keeping our collar and cuffs matching. Please come visit us at http://www.faberfindsblog.co.uk. As I say, all old posts from this site now live there, but all content concerning our exciting new July titles and the titles to come is exclusively at the new blog.

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Tom Wintringham is pictured here crouched below the banner toward the left of frame.

On this day 75 years ago General Francisco Franco descended on the Spanish protectorate of Morocco, there to assume direction of an armed uprising begun in Spain two days previous: a revolt of conservative nationalists against the Popular Front government of Spain’s Second Republic. So began a bitter, bloody three-year civil war, itself an overture to an international conflict, as Mussolini and Hitler took Franco’s side and the Soviet Union that of the Republic. Franco’s victory and subsequent long dictatorship did not settle the matter; nor did his death in 1975 and Spain’s return to democracy. A civil war makes for fissures that will not heal within a hundred years; Spain is still haunted. (The BBC today reported on the ongoing controversy over what is to be done by the Zapatero government in respect of the Valley of the Fallen in Madrid, Franco’s colossal and divisive tribute to his victory.)
For the Left ‘Spain’ remains a great cause, a courageously principled fight against fascism and on behalf of a government that championed the poor – a cause impaired only by the virulent internal dispute between Stalinist and Trotskyist/anarchist ideologies (as explored in sympathy with the latter faction in Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and in the 1995 Jim Allen/Ken Loach film Land and Freedom.) On the Right, meanwhile, you will often hear that Franco was ‘authoritarian’ rather than fascist, that ultimately he ‘saved’ Spain from Hitler, and indeed Stalin, and so on.
What is indisputable is that legions of men and women from Europe, the US and Australia journeyed to Spain to join the Republican struggle against what these volunteers saw without question as a rising fascism. These were the International Brigades. A pioneering figure among them was Tom Wintringham (1898-1949), Grimsby-born soldier, poet, journalist, Marxist and keen military theorist. In 1936 Wintringham was despatched to Spain by the Daily Worker as a journalist to cover the war, but his passions and interests were quickly inflamed: he had ideas for how the Republican volunteers should be marshalled, and he was instrumental in the formation of the International Brigades. He would command the British Battalion in the bloody Battle of Jarama in February 1937, at which he was wounded. In 1939 he committed to paper an account of what he saw and did and learned in the struggle. This was English Captain, and Faber Finds is pleased and proud to reissue the book this week, 75 years after the Spanish Civil War began.
English Captain is available to order here. If you wish a little more background information on Wintringham, do look at and listen to the videos below from a tribute event held at Grimsby in 2007, the first a general survey of the life, the second a few comments on the poetry and the Spanish Civil War by Wintringham’s biographer Hugh Purcell

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This from today’s Bookseller, the author Benedicte Page:

Faber has a new typographic look and some new July titles for its print-on-demand and e-book imprint Faber Finds.
Two “seminal” music books of the 1980s, Dave Rimmer’s Like Punk Never Happened and Fred Vermorel’s Starlust, will launch this week, alongside the late poet Ian Hamilton’s appreciation of Paul Gascoigne, Gazza Agonistes. Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Strangers in a Bag and Trevor Wilson’s The Downfall of the Liberal Party 1914-1935 are also among the newly revived titles.
Faber Finds now includes over 900 books, with John Carey’s John Donne, J R Leavis’ The Great Tradition and Simon Heffer’s Like the Roman among its bestsellers.
Imprint editor Richard T Kelly promised to continue to develop a list that he called “a reliable source of great reading matter; but also a list that can innovate and surprise.”
The Faber Finds blog, encouraging readers to suggest new titles for the imprint, is being relaunched at http://www.faberfindsblog.co.uk. The imprint will launch locally in the Australian market in September, through Faber’s partnership with Allen & Unwin.
Faber Finds launched in 2008 and republishes books and authors who have fallen out of print.

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Illustrator Abigail Larson's brilliant imagining of Mary Shelley side-by-side with her legendary creation, Frankenstein's Monster

Now available for order in Finds are:
FICTION
The Stories of William Sansom
A Solitary War, Lucifer Before Sunrise, and The Gale of the World by Henry Williamson
All Hallows’ Eve by Charles Williams
NON-FICTION
Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour
One Man and His Plot by Michael Leapman
Gerard Manley Hopkins by Robert Bernard Martin
Old Men Forget by Duff Cooper
Diana Cooper by Philip Ziegler
Founder by Amos Elon
Writing at the Kitchen Table by Artemis Cooper
Sir Robert Peel by Norman Gash

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Serena Mackesy

Finds’ reissues of Lucy Carmichael and The Feast by Margaret Kennedy allow them to sit snugly alongside our existing editions of Kennedy’s The Midas Touch and The Fool of the Family. I am pleased to announce that her 1955 novel The Oracles will follow in Finds this August.
In preparing these publications I was delighted to discover that the novelist Serena Mackesy – author of Sunday Times bestseller The Temp (1999), Virtue (2000), Simply Heaven (2002) and Hold My Hand (2008) – is Kennedy’s maternal granddaughter. Serena has now very kindly written an appreciation of her grandmother’s work exclusively for Finds, which I’m delighted to reproduce below. I would also draw readers’ attentions to the serendipitous fact that a Kindle edition of Serena’s acclaimed Hold My Hand is newly available at Amazon, at a price that would tempt any sane person in search of guaranteed ‘goose bumps in the summer months’ (cf. Kirkus Review.)
But for the moment we proudly present ‘Mackesy On Kennedy’…:

An early bestseller can be both a blessing and curse on a writer’s career. Margaret Kennedy’s second novel, The Constant Nymph, became a phenomenon in the 1920s – a global bestseller which spawned stage plays starring the likes of Coward and Gielgud, as well as three big-business films – and, while this opened doors that might well have remained closed for years otherwise, she found herself under pressure, throughout her career, to repeat the formula.

Kennedy, however, was not a genre novelist by nature. Although The Fool of the Family is, indeed, a sequel to the Nymph, and also features moments of the same underplayed emotional devastation that made that novel such a success, it barely touches on the fortunes of the book’s central characters – the most important of whom, of course, died at its end. It follows, instead, the fortunes of the younger Sanger children, ill-equipped by their celebrated Bohemian upbringing for life in the ‘real’ world. Her portrait of the fear and drudgery of poverty is acute and moving – and was a great disappointment to the Bloomsbury group, who had adopted the Nymph as a working bible, rather missing the point of the satire within.

It was light-touch satire, and wry and incisive social observation, that formed the common threads that bind Kennedy’s novels together. And like many writers who make these techniques their stock-in-trade, she was a very serious individual. Nymph enthusiasts, buoyed up by fantasies of a gauze-clad free spirit romping on the seashore, were often surprised to find that the book had come from the typewriter of a bookish bluestocking. But this, of course, is the reason that her work was so strong, and so entertaining: she didn’t write memoir, but, rather, combined imagination, observation and a powerful flair for human psychology to create real, walking, talking individuals whose choices had profound, often disastrous, repercussions that often spread far beyond their social spheres.

She was a writer of wide human interests. As fascinated by the domestic as the powerful – mixing, herself, with the worlds of film (where she made much of her living, both as screenwriter and script doctor) and theatre and, via her law-lord husband, with those of government, academia and high society – she was the one standing in the corner taking notes, and identifying the pettiness, the assumptions and the irrationality that pervade most human decisions, from those of the billionaire to those of the overlooked housewife.

In The Midas Touch (the book she regarded as her best, and which was translated to film in the early Forties), a wealthy industrialist falls under the influence of a fraudulent psychic. The eponymous heroine of Lucy Carmichael has her beliefs about the world turned on her head as she recovers from a humiliating at-the-altar jilting. The Feast – my own favourite of her works – turns allegory into social comedy as a disparate group of holidaymakers while away their time in a Cornish hotel, unaware that several of them will meet a horrific death before the summer’s end. She remains a joy to read; fresh, clear, unexpected and, at the end, always profoundly moving.

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Here’s yet another tribute to the master of the uncanny and unnatural from… well, me, I confess. Over at the site devoted to my recently published novel The Possessions of Doctor Forrest – a site partly consecrated to the itemising of the many and various supernatural artworks by which I was influenced in the making of said novel – I thought it important to add Aickman’s name to the roll-call. The influence was unknown to me at the time of writing, in this instance, as I explain; but then Aickman himself would surely have had an easy explanation for the manner in which my cold hand was steered by some ordinary ghost…

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Over at the excellent Bookdagger the crime novelist, editor and commentator Martin Edwards has kindly written a piece drawing attention to Finds’ reissuing of Colin Watson’s crime novels and the ‘metaphysical thrillers’ of Charles Williams. Martin signs off with a flourish that gladdens our hearts in particular:

“The extraordinarily wide variety of uncommon books that are now available from Faber Finds underlines the increasing significance of print on demand publishing. And it is a phenomenon that is great news for avid readers…”

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