Author(s): Toby Faber
To celebrate its 90th anniversary, here is the untold story behind one of one of the world's most iconic publishing houses.
Faber and Faber is one of the world's greatest independent publishers. Literary superstars like T.S.Eliot, William Golding, Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath are synonymous with the name "Faber", as are the leafy squares of twentieth-century Bloomsbury. But what is the real tale behind the house that brought together these authors? And how did a tiny firm set up by two men in 1925 - weathering obstacles from wartime paper shortages to dramatic financial crashes - survive to this very day?
Toby Faber has grown up with these stories, and uses a range of humorous and surprising sources to tell the history of the publisher in its own words. Drawing on material from memos to board minutes and unpublished memoirs, Faber takes us deep inside the evolution of the company: and along the way, we meet a cast of colorful characters that are stranger than fiction, whether poets or novelists, managers or editors.
Decade by decade, Faber's portrait of one company's history becomes not only that of an entire century, but a hymn to the role of the arts in public life. Itshows us how publishing can shift a nation's cultural conversation - and speaks directly to the way we engage with literature today.
For anyone interested in 20th century literature, this biography is a treasure trove of history. The author is the Grandson of Geoffrey Faber so had access to the archives. Toby draws on letters, minutes, memoirs and diaries to tell the story of one of the great publishing house’s and how it survived the Depression, wartime paper shortages and financial crises.
It is a fascinating story and one well told beginning with the appointment (in 1925),of T S Eliot as director. Eliot was brilliant of course and was mainly responsible for the decision to publish the likes of W H Auden, Silvia Plath and Philip Larkin. There were others too but there were also some notable errors of judgement; William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was dismissed as rubbish and George Orwell’s Animal Farm was too risky. (The publisher subsequently missed out on the most popular modern classic '1984'. It was published by Secker & Warburg). There was only ever one Geoffrey Faber of course, but 'Faber & Faber' had a resonance to good resist. Now in their 90th year, this history is a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives. A fascinating story, to good to miss. Mike