To celebrate the 90th anniversary of Faber & Faber, here is the untold story behind one of one of the world's most iconic publishing houses. Drawing on material from memos to board minutes and unpublished memoirs, Toby Faber takes us deep inside the evolution of the company: and along the way, we meet a cast of colorful characters that are stranger than fiction.
For someone writing both a family history and a publishing one, Tony Faber deals fairly with the personalities, conflicts, failures and courageous decisions that shaped the firm. His format is fascinating. The book primarily consists of extracts from letters and memos composed on the run, snap literary judgements jotted down while its staff juggled the fraught financial intricacies of keeping the firm solvent ... one pleasure of this book is how these men (few female voices are heard), slowly growing old...rarely have time to consider how posterity will judge their decisions. They are too caught up with wartime paper shortages, bombs falling on Mrs Faber’s garage, battles with censorship...and keeping the show on the road. Filled with brilliant cameos, this is for anyone who wonders what publishers actually do all day.
In Faber & Faber: The Untold Story, Toby Faber, grandson of the company’s founder, Geoffrey, has managed to piece together the history of this peculiarly British institution in such a way as to lift the lid on some of the more surprising and, occasionally, unedifying goings-on behind the scenes, while at the same time stopping short of doing anything to diminish its mistique ... This book will fascinate anyone with an interest in 20th century literature, but as well as being a treasure trove of anecdotes and insights it is also a surprisingly readable history of a remarkable company...
What The Untold Story makes clear are the ways in which editorial sensibility and independence—renewed and reasserted at key points in the firm’s history—have combined with sheer luck, over the course of nearly a century, to sustain an operation that might very well have gone under more than once ... Toby Faber can be pardoned for betraying a hint of smugness about the company’s ongoing vigor, even if it’s thanks to a musical. Eliot would have been delighted.