Enthusiastic reception for Toby Faber's history, told through letters and other archive material
It is rare at a publishing launch party to find that a good many guests have already read the book. But Toby Faber's book trade friends have pounced on his Faber & Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House, and discussed eagerly as they gathered in the Faber boardroom last night. Their enthusiasm stems from nostalgia for an era that is past, and from recognition that some aspects of publishing do not change.
One unchanging message, Faber CEO Stephen Page said, was that "the conviction of editors lies at the heart of a publisher's success". The book showed Faber as "a kind, humane and generous place". He hoped that was still true, too. Last week, Faber was named Publisher of the Year at the Independent Publishing Awards.
Toby is grandson of the publisher's founder Geoffrey (later Sir Geoffrey) Faber. There were further family threads at the party: descendants of Richard de la Mare, Frank Morley and other key figures in the publisher's history. Recipients of the author's thanks included designer Kate Ward, editor Laura Hassan, and archivist Robert Brown, who helped him unearth the letters and other documents through which he tells the Faber story.
The guests included publishers Anthony Forbes Watson (Macmillan), Richard Charkin (ex-Bloomsbury, now Mensch), Andrew Franklin (Profile), Julian Loose (ex-Faber, now Yale), and Kate and Sarah Beal (Muswell Press, which a few weeks ago launched Toby Faber's novel Close to the Edge); agents Carol Heaton and her husband Charles Elliott (Greene & Heaton), Peter Straus (RCW), Caroline Dawnay (United Agents), and Caroline Michel (PFD - and widow of former Faber chairman Matthew Evans); and authors Craig Raine (former Faber poetry editor), David Hare, Louise Doughty, and Andrew O'Hagan.
Photo: Toby Faber (left) and Stephen Page