Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Quentin Blake has just spent two days in the office signing every copy of La Fontaine with remarkable cheerfulness. As I was leaving the office I was accosted by our caretaker Roy (an enthusiastic Folio member) who said ‘Was that Quentin Blake in there signing those books? I bought a copy of his last one, Candide, and I looked it up on the internet and there’s a copy there for £2,000. I’ll definitely buy the new one!’ I’ve just checked, and he’s right… It has been quite a week for Private Views. Jane Ray had one at The Illustration Cupboard for her new book The Emperor’s Nightingale. Her exquisite little scraper-board illustrations are greatly enlarged in the book and printed in colour. This exhibition is immediately followed by another Folio illustrator, John Lawrence. (How can I say ‘another’ so casually? John has been producing wonderful books for us for half a century!) Here is an engraving for Wayland, his collaboration with Tony Mitton. Meanwhile round the corner at Chris Beetles’ gallery, they are hanging a major retrospective of Paul Cox which opens this evening. The show includes many of his Folio illustrations for P. G. Wodehouse and others and has a magnificent catalogue which is a collectible item in itself. At Chris Beetles’ other gallery Beetles and Huxley, there is a superb collection of photographs from National Geographic. This was opened last week by Michael Palin and gave me a good opportunity to ask him about his connection with the William Morris manuscript of the Odes of Horace we are working on at present. Here he is, holding the original book, which had been selected as one of the Bodleian Library treasures in a PR event a couple of years ago. Harry Brockway has just sent us his final wood engravings for the Folio Fine Edition of The Vision of Piers the Plowman which is due to be published by us next year. His work has both a robustness and a visionary quality which reflect this poem quite beautifully. Here, for example, are ‘Antichrist, Old Age and Death and Unity fortified’. Finally, yet another Folio illustrator, Niroot Puttapipat, will be in action on Thursday at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow – for details click here.