Wednesday, 9 July 2019, 18:30-19:30, Chancellor's Hall, Senate House

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The Institute of English Studies and Bloomsbury Chapter welcome Toby Faber (Former Managing Director, Faber & Faber) for 'A Mere Ordinary Director: TS Eliot as Publisher'.

The names of T. S. Eliot, William Golding, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney are synonymous with the publishing house Faber & Faber, founded in Bloomsbury in 1929. But behind these stellar literary talents was a tiny firm that had to battle the Great Depression, wartime paper shortages and dramatic financial crises to retain its independence. This intimate history of Faber & Faber weaves together the most entertaining, moving and surprising letters, diaries and materials from the archive to reveal the untold stories behind some of the greatest literature of the twentieth century. 

Highlights include Eliot’s magnificent reading reports, Samuel Beckett on swearing and censorship, the publication of Finnegans Wake, the rejection of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, P. D. James on tasting her first avocado, the first reader's response to Heaney's Death of a Naturalist, Philip Larkin’s reluctance to attend poetry readings ('people’s imaginary picture of you is always so much more flattering than the reality'), and the discovery of Kazuo Ishiguro. The result is both a vibrant history and a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives.  

This event will be followed by a wine reception.