The Art and Writing of David & Ping Henningham
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31331368961_92e02dfa47_oOwning the means of production is one of those luxuries which can change your trajectory in life so much, it is a gamechanger. This especially applies if you’re an artist or writer at those fragile early stages where you are full of skills and promise and energy, but have nothing much to your name (yet). The Hogarth Press was exactly this kind of instrumental luxury in Virginia Woolf’s life. The effect its existence had on her creative and political output is still, I feel, rather underrated in current Woolf scholarship. The absolute freedom of speech the Hogarth Press allowed Woolf had an enormous impact on her ability to think and experiment. Not only was the mental space it provided essential, but, since there are so many handbound Hogarth Press books by Woolf in existence, as artefacts they also have an important story to tell. And of course, in addition to to Woolf’s own writings, there was the tremendous intellectual legacy of the Hogarth Press publications, for example, the first English translation of Sigmund Freud’s Complete Works, or the first UK edition of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, lynchpin of the Modernist Canon. Could the Woolfs have known that by putting down their £19 5s 6d on 23rd March 1917, and becoming proud owners of a small hand press, they would so profoundly sculpt the terrain of literary and intellectual modernism for years to come?

The Hogarth Press’ informal beginnings as a hobby-turned-business makes this seem unlikely. In fact, in many ways, the cheerfully enterprising spirit with which they plonked their money down for the first press was central to its future success. It is well known that the Woolfs first decided to print books by hand partly because they needed to find a therapeutic activity to absorb Virginia outside of her writing. The fact that the couple’s first flawed but charming hand-pressed publication, Two Stories (1918) quickly broke even, and then was followed by the unexpected success of Kew Gardens (1919) encouraged them to carry on in an ad hoc way. The expansion of their original vision meant they tackled more ambitious projects which gradually led to many Hogarth Press books being outsourced to commercial printers and binders. However, despite the increased production and greater distribution that outsourced production made possible, as well as the fact that the professionally made books were generally better printed, bound, and designed, the Woolfs continued to hand make books for sixteen years; producing at least one handset (if not also hand bound) book a year alongside many more outsourced titles.

There is no easy explanation as to why the hand made books abruptly stop in 1932. It is likely that it was not merely because, despite being as Leonard Woolf writes, ‘a mongrel in the business world’ (p.242) the Hogarth Press now had enough stability and notoriety to survive without the attention-grabbing and money-saving device of hand made editions, but also perhaps because that year marked a significant turning point in the Woolfs’ lives. 1932 was a difficult year for the Woolfs in many ways. Firstly their good friend Lytton Strachey died a slow courageous death from stomach cancer and, as Hermione Lee observed, it was a death that for Virginia ‘left the greatest silence.. a closing down of the past; it made her feel (as she always in anycase tended to feel) older, more mortal, part of an age that was past.’ (p.630) It also affected Leonard acutely as he felt that, coinciding with the rise of Nazism and the Second World War, ‘Lytton’s death marked a point of no return.’ (Lee, p. 630) Their grief was augmented in March when Dora Carrington, Strachey’s companion, shot herself in response to his death. Next, John Lehmann, the last of many bright young things whom the Woolfs had engaged as a manager/potential partner of the Press, walked out and they were left to struggle without a proper manager for several years. Lastly, in October of that year, Virginia’s many preoccupations suddenly came together into one new project. Thus she embarked wholeheartedly on what was to become The Years, a book which so consumed her energies it had an ill effect on her mental health. Perhaps this stressful series of events sapped some of the original energy and enthusiasm needed for a literal ‘hands-on’ approach. When John Lehmann returned in 1938, Virginia sold her half of the Press to him. Since Virginia was the stronger typesetter and binder out of the Woolfs, perhaps her lesser involvement also contributed to the discontinuation of handmade titles.

Whatever the reasons for in-house handmade production ceasing at the Hogarth Press, by this point the cultural space they had hoped the Press would provide had clearly become a stable reality. However, the same dynamic and independent spirit behind the handmade books was still very much at the heart of the Hogarth Press. What this paper deals with is the rubric of the handmade books themselves, since as objects they are neither fine enough to be included in the fine printing tradition nor conventional or numerous enough to fit in the publishing world proper. This inbetweeness characterises the cultural niche that the Hogarth Press opened up and occupied as was conceived and grown under the Woolfs’ direction. By understanding where the handmade books stood or stumbled in terms of being art objects, part of the book trade and as ideological statements, we will see how they are physical manifestations of the process by which the Woolfs freed themselves to write as they pleased. The handmade books, as objects made not by accomplished book artists but rather by prolific writers, were a curiously unusual form of luxury. Yet it was exactly this unconventional approach that made possible the necessary luxuries of the Hogarth Press.

Virginia Woolf described in detail the environment of luxury necessary for a creative writer. In both the seductively entertaining A Room of One’s Own and the polemical Three Guineas, Woolf makes a strong case for the material means that women need at their disposal if they are to write with uninhibited creative freedom. Throughout the texts she highlights luxuries which generations of men have taken for granted and purposely barred women from obtaining. These necessary luxuries start from material consumption but lead to intellectual space and nurture. As Woolf concludes after a depressingly plain dinner at a women’s college in Cambridge,

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. The lamp in the spine does not light on beef and prunes. We are all probably going to heaven, and Vandyck is, we hope, to meet us round the next corner – that is the dubious and qualifying state of mind that beef and prunes at the end of the day’s work breed between them.” (p.17)

This contrasts sharply with the deliciously opulent dinner Woolf describes a few pages earlier, given at a men’s college. It is significant that the glorious flight of her prose produced by that dinner, in which rapturous thoughts spiral closer and closer to more weighty considerations of the consequences of war, are cut off by a ‘plain gravy soup’. Likewise, the failed visit to the college library also shows how intellectual restrictions are embodied by physical disadvantage. The parable of Shakespeare’s sister demonstrates this, as an attempt to follow in her brother’s footsteps leads instead to scorn, indifference, the imposition of chastity and the denial of material wealth. Her rapid descent, ending in suicide and obscurity, paints a tragic picture of ‘a woman at strife against herself.’ Thus Woolf concludes, a woman ‘born with a gift of poetry in the sixteenth century, was an unhappy woman’. This was because, ‘[a]ll the conditions of her life, all her own instincts, were hostile to the state of mind which is needed to set free whatever is in the brain.’ (p. 46) By this it is clear that Woolf thinks nurturing the whole of life – that is, material comfort, spiritual freedom and as well as familial and societal support – is absolutely necessary for true creative endeavour.

The epitome of these examples is the actual room itself where a writer can set his or her own cultural agenda, a physical and psychic space where the only mental state which Woolf thinks is conducive to creating masterpieces can be cultivated. At this point perhaps it is interesting to remember how Woolf not only found the Stephens’ family home in Hyde Park Gate oppressive due to the heavy darkness of the Victorian décor, but also because, psychologically, she fell trapped and vulnerable within it. As Gill Lowe writes in her introduction to Woolf’s Hyde Park Gate News, ‘Remembering the house in 1897, Virginia calls it a “cage”. She likens herself, at fifteen, to “a nervous, gibbering monkey” sharing a perilous territory with her father, a “pacing dangerous, morose lion” who was “sulky and angry and injured” after the devastating deaths of Julia and Stella.’ Later, when rationing throughout the winter of 1941 means the Woolfs can only maintain a fire in the sitting room, Virginia notes in her diary that she is now unable to write, because Leonard is always present and she has no room of her own to work in (Lee p.752). Thus Virginia’s own life was a testimony to her belief that creative endeavour can only truly happen when supported by physical and financial security, expressed by the luxury of a personal workspace, where the privacy and freedom to work can be protected. As Woolf observes through her analysis of past female novelists, the minimum of material conditions –that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, that a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself’ – are relative luxuries, inaccessible to most women of and before her time (Room p. 96). The ability to determine their own finances, and to escape to a workplace where the endless demands of the domestic realm (such as children or servants) could be locked out was usually available only to men. For most women, such autonomy and peace to follow their own interests was a luxury beyond reach. But only with these luxuries will women, like men, be in a position to follow Woolf’s formula for true expression;

There must be freedom and there must be peace… [The writer] must not look or question what is being done. Rather, he must pluck the petals from a rose or watch the swans flat calmly down the river. (Room p. 94)

The luxurious languidity of this image is paradoxical. Woolf is showing that idleness is a necessary buffer that the mental space needed for creativity and free thought requires. She repeats this point in exhortations to her female audience; ‘By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.’ (p.98)

What that statement describes is an alternative economy that overturns a spendthrift morality which expounds thriftiness as a virtue and luxuries as unnecessary evils. This capitalist reversal is explored extensively in Mrs Dalloway. As Jennifer Wicke suggests in her analysis of Modernism and consumption,

Clarissa tentatively and tenuously reverses the disenchantment of the world characteristic of modernity by the generosity of her gendered acts of consumption, where consumption is reformulated as the nature of the gift. (p. 126)

This aura of generosity is expressed in Clarissa’s intense love of life, people and her gift in bringing all these elements together as ‘An offering for the sake of offering’ (Mrs Dalloway p. 123). The beautiful humanity of Clarissa’s many pleasures and gestural ‘sacrifice through spending’ (Wicke p. 129) contrasts with Miss Kilman’s material poverty which leads to a meanness of spirit that spoils her ability to enjoy anything at all;

It was her way of eating, eating with intensity, then looking, again and again, at a plate of sugared cakes on the table next them; then, when a lady and child sat down and the child took the cake, could Miss Kilman really mind it? Yes, Miss Kilman did mind it, she had wanted that cake – the pink one. The pleasure of eating was almost the only pure pleasure left her, and then to be baffled even in that! (p. 131)

Financial poverty being equated to social barrenness in Mrs Dalloway is again highlighted by Ellie Henderson when ‘her panic fear, which arose from three hundred pounds income and her weaponless state (she could not earn a penny) [..] made her timid’ (p. 171). By showing these women suffering in situations where they should be enjoying themselves, Woolf puts forward the paradox that one must have enough of a financial reserve so that the act of consumption itself do not consume the consumer. Thus, Woolf’s alternative economic morality also denotes that material goods have their uses, but in order to enjoy them properly (i.e. as they are meant to be enjoyed) accumulation of them must reach a certain standard, that is, beyond what is absolutely necessary to possess them. In short, to live a full life, one must have both social and financial status which is beyond simple necessity – the very definition of luxury. Furthermore, although necessity dictates that life must start from materiality, ideally this will be a means to a nobler end, and not the end itself.

For Virginia Woolf, the luxury of independent intellectual freedom was created by the Hogarth Press. Its insulating effect gave her the courage to write experimentally. For example, it was not until the Woolfs had purchased their first hand press, issued notices of their first publication (Two Stories) and already started printing Leonard’s contribution, that Virginia started to write in a way that really broke away from conventional realism. Although she had already published two novels to some success through Gerald Duckworth’s publishing house, Duckworth & Co. were not really avant-garde publishers, and Virginia still harboured some ill-feeling against her half-brother. (She would later accuse him and his brother George of sexually abusing her as a child.) When we factor in, as Leonard Woolf observed in his autobiography, Virginia’s ‘hypersensitiveness to criticism’ (II, p. 223) – which paralysed her with horror at the completion of each novel until she had received a favourable reception from trusted critics – it is not difficult to see how the prospect of having to submit another work to her half-brother would not have been conducive to bold experimentation on her part.. Just as her Bloomsbury circle afforded freedom from the conventions of chastity, the dynamics of self-publishing as the Woolfs conceived them meant that the ‘inestimable price of editorial freedom’ was theirs. As J. H. Willis Jr. noted, though a fearful and anxious writer, the Hogarth Press was instrumental in freeing Woolf to become ‘what she wished as a writer without the real or imagined criticism of a publishers’ reader’, plus it also meant that ‘[she] need never feel an unsympathetic or repressive male editor looking over her shoulder’ (p. 400). Woolf herself wrote in her diary that she was, ‘the only woman in England free to write what I like.’ (Willis p.401) Furthermore, from 1929 to 1939 the Press contributed at least £1000 year to their existing income and since their expenditure had remained much the same in this period, they were able to use the money to make major lifestyle changes. Thus they were able to afford the luxury of being able to discard the model of Victorian domesticity by replacing the cook and other live-in servants with ‘things which make it easy “to do for yourself”’ and staff in off-site accommodation. Profits from the Press also contributed directly the purchase of their first car – a second-hand Singer in 1927, which added welcome speed to their pace of life (Leonard Woolf, Journey, p.99). It is interesting to note how the intellectual autonomy of the Woolfs’ was paralleled by an increased sense of freedom within their lifestyle in general.

It seems that the space that these necessary extras provide is essentially a springboard to better things beyond the present; a means to a nobler end, and not the end itself. But an actual Hogarth handmade is not luxurious. At least, not in the material sense. An examination of the British Library copy of The Waste Land reveals inadequate inking (i.e. too light to be comfortably legible in places), a badly cut cover label and the absolute minimum of stitching unevenly spaced – features evident in nearly all the handmade Hogarth books I examined. The Senate House copy has similar problems, plus ink blots throughout, with botched gluing sticking the title page to the leaf before it. Furthermore, page twenty-five is cut short at a diagonal and they appear to have run out of the marbled cover paper, which comes just short of the endpaper. As James Beechy observed, they are noticeably absent from most private press histories, perhaps due to the marked difference in production values, ‘Unlike many private presses founded in the slipstream of the pervasive Arts and Craft movement, The Hogarth Press was not concerned with editions de luxe’ (p. 15). This summary of Hogarth Press production is a polite understatement. The books themselves are almost precocious in their material inadequacy. If there is anything deluxe to be found in the press publications at all, it is that they were made by highly skilled writers, and it is this auratic intellectual association which give them their market value, not the quality or durability of the material product.

It seems that for the Hogarth books to be classed as deluxe, a different definition of luxury must be found. In The Price of Modernism: Publishing The Waste Land, Lawrence Rainey gives very interesting and detail-oriented revision of The Waste Land’s process of canonization, and in order to do so he depends upon an established avant-garde ‘tripartite publishing program’ of elite, deluxe and mass dissemination (pp. 77-106). This method of tiered publishing is so established today, we hardly notice it – for example everyone expects a paperback to follow a hardback, with a fine-bound limited edition sometimes commissioned for the discerning elite. Even indie record labels have adopted this form of publishing, with CDs and digital releases being followed by special edition vinyls and the suchlike. Rainey’s assumption that deluxe in book publishing means a limited edition made from valuable materials is well-founded considering the output of other contemporary presses. The examples he gives for the deluxe level of modernist tripartite publishing, such as William Morris’s Kelmscott Press or Yeats’ sisters’ Dun Emer (later Cuala) Press produced exquisite work. An examination of the Dun Emer Press’ Broadsides: A Collection of New Irish and English Songs (1937), a collection of ballads written by Yeats and printed by his sisters1, reveal rich, even inking, with the illustrations coloured by hand and musical notation on every ballad sheet adding to the sense of luxurious printing. Looking at a Kelmscott Press book, A Dream of John Ball (1892), a political treatise written by Morris himself, it is clear from the quality of the design work and execution why they were the benchmark that most later presses aspired to. The printing is, of course, impeccable, which is no mean feat when one considers the intricate woodblock illustrations and illuminated text, and that Morris’ bespoke inks caused much frustration to his printers due to their viscosity. The binding is similarly exquisite; the specially commissioned white vellum cover creating an almost translucent effect. Morris was second only to the Vatican in his demand for unleaded, flawless vellum. Needless to say, the materials used in both these projects are of the highest quality and both these specimens, kept in the same collection as most of the Hogarth Press books I examined2, do not appear to have aged at all. This is generally the norm among fine hand-crafted books. High quality paper and glues coupled with skilful application of tried and tested binding techniques usually ensures this. Thus these books are a marked contrast to the Hogarth handmade books whose naïve enthusiasm and unselfconscious experimentation in binding (often with disastrous results) share more with the energetic scribbles (and frequent ink blots) of the Stephen children’s Hyde Park Gate News than with the accomplished history of fine print and bookmakers.

Perhaps it was the Woolfs’ eagerness to utilise the work of friends that led to them printing things which should have been beyond their ability. Examples that spring to mind are not only The Waste Land, but also Hope Mirrlees’ Paris, both of which employ several languages, both roman and italic type, and enough specialised spacing to give even an expert typesetter trouble. The resultant texts (including these last two examples) often had to be hand corrected by Virginia after printing. Another good example is the first edition of 12 Original Woodcuts (1921) by Roger Fry which again is only secured with the minimum of stitching – only three holes. This is especially inadequate for this particular book because of the thickness of the paper used. Much thicker than usual Hogarth Press stock (perhaps in honour of it being ‘fine print’ book), they end up forming a ‘V’ shape at the spine because there are too many sheets to comfortably fit in just one fold and choir. This ‘V’ shape is also echoed by the page ends, which have not been trimmed after binding – a characteristic which is again apparent in most Hogarth handmades. With fewer sheets, five holes and a trimmed edge this would have been an acceptable method, but the best and most orthodox way to bind pages like these would have been to stitch them in smaller numbers, then sewn the subsequent three or four choirs together. This appears to have been too labour intensive for the Woolfs, who, as far as I know, never employed this practice. The result is a ‘fine art book’ which neither opens nor shuts properly. The inner pages are also folded against the grain direction of the paper, which decreases the lifespan of the book; as every professional bookbinder knows, the grain should run parallel to the spine. These technical errors are exacerbated by an amateurish appearance; the ‘marbled’ paper that Fry himself made by throwing paint in random splashes at ‘recycled’ wall paper was far too heavy and poor in quality for this purpose. As Donna Rhein points out, the traditional method of marbling is to suspend colour on water in order to float the design onto the paper. (p. 27). Fry’s unorthodox approach means that the cover, now brittle, is prone to cracking and breaking off in parts. One might give Fry and the Woolfs the benefit of the doubt, perhaps as amateur binders they simply did not possess the depth of experience to have foreseen what problems using inappropriate materials might create, but mere inexperience does not explain the lack of care in execution – for example the front label is not even cut squarely. These recurring technical imperfections, as well as many others too numerous to list here, are all regular features throughout Hogarth handmades and mean that they are quite justifiably left out of fine press histories.

The fact that Rainey neglects to physically describe a Hogarth Press edition of The Waste Land, is perhaps because of the frustrating incongruity between its aspirations and humble appearance. Simply put, the handmade Hogarth Press books, the category which is usually deemed ‘deluxe’, were so badly made that, even their mass produced counterparts tend to wear better than they. In the Lilly Library (Indiana University) copy that Rhein describes in The Handprinted Books of Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press there is even an advertisement for past titles from the Hogarth Press printed in the back of the book (Rhein pp.23-24). Far from treating the production of this book as a limited deluxe English edition, the Woolfs appeared to have decided they would make the most of the publicity from what they thought would be a good seller. Rainey’s suggestion that Eliot’s commission of The Waste Land was an afterthought of Eliot’s to complete the tripartite system also seems less convincing if one considers that it was not necessarily limited, since the Woolfs were not averse to making more copies to cater for demand – even when the original materials had run out. In the case of The Waste Land, the suggestion that the Woolfs ran out of the original marbled paper is supported by the fact the British Library copy is covered in a completely different, textured, black paper.3 In fact, for a handmade book by amateur book-binders, the 460 copies of The Waste Land could be considered a large print run. The lateness of the publication may also be due to the fact it always took the Woolfs a long time to typeset anything, especially because in this case Virginia took extra care to ensure the poem was spaced well, which it was. Indeed, Eliot himself said that he preferred the appearance of this edition to its American counterpart. Having examined both editions, it is evident that the unconventional proportions of the Hogarth Press edition caters much better for the spacing of the lines than the Boni and Liveright edition which is not wide enough and breaks up the vast majority of its long lines. Thus the personal care and high priority with which the text is treated by the Woolfs is clear, despite the dubious quality of its total execution as a ‘deluxe’ book.

Perhaps what the Woolfs considered to be luxury can be illuminated by the suggestion ‘The Woolfs’ intentions were more cerebral.’ (Beechy, p.15) The ‘luxury’ was not in the materials but in being able to bring together individuals they hoped would have an affect on the existing consciousness. As Leonard Woolf noted, ‘We were interested primarily in the immaterial inside of a book, what the author had to say and how he said it; we had drifted into the business with the idea of publishing things which the commercial publisher could not or would not publish.’ (Lee p 234) In the light of this, one can see the marketing behind The Waste Land as part of a long-term project to centralize a certain culture of intellect. Rainey presents The Waste Land as well branded product successfully sold within an already established system of publishing. This may be true but, at least from the Hogarth Press side, the eagerness to publish was also due to intellectual ideals the Woolfs shared with Eliot, which tended towards a more amorphous kind of subjectivity. Just as T.S. Eliot was aware of mass consciousness being greater than the individual’s thoughts and advocated the ‘continual extinction of personality’ so that ‘the mind of Europe’ may surface (Eliot,’Tradition and the Individual Talent’, pp. 39-40), so did Virginia Woolf have a similar sense of social responsibility;

‘[T]he public and the private worlds are inseparably connected, the tyrannies and servilities of the one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other [..] we are not passive spectators doomed to unresisting obedience but by our thoughts and actions can ourselves change that fire. A common interest unites us, it is one world, one life.

(Three Guineas, pp. 270-271)

Thus one can see that, as a group of already famous individuals, the material commodities were simply vessels used to distribute awareness of a fragmented yet interconnected world. Their belief in the power of private consciousness to affect mass culture shows how, ideologically, this was the most important result that the luxury of independent intellect could bring forth. As friends of Eliot at the time, and critics whom he trusted, it was the Woolfs’ pleasure to extend to him this same luxury of unadulterated exposure made possible by the Hogarth Press.

It seems strange, then, that scholars who have written insightful histories of the Hogarth Press tend to end with a rather rigid view of how the Woolfs achieved what they did. As J. H. Willis Jr. puts it, ‘[T]he twenty-four year journey of the Hogarth Press, complete and seen in its entirety, seems one that may never be repeated.’ (p.402) Similarly, S. P Rosenbaum’s reasoning that the Hogarth Press existed due to a combination of luck and the Woolfs’ realisation that the publishing conditions of their time created the need for an alternative press’ also leads him to the conclusion that ‘[t]he historical moment of the Hogarth Press is passed; even if one could find another Virginia Woolf, it would not be possible for many reasons to do anything similar now to what they did nearly eighty years ago.’ (p. 24) These departing words with which he sums up the enterprise seem to belie the inherent values of the press. It is precisely this kind of whimsical attempt to ossify history which is antithetical to the dynamic vision of the Hogarth Press. At this point, the image of Virginia Woolf berating the outdated ‘Edwardians’ for wilfully overlooking Mrs Brown as a person in herself springs to mind. By reducing her to a trope through which they can convey their premeditated patriarchal judgements, they have failed to appreciate Mrs Brown’s own agency as a conscious human being. In the same way, by sealing the Hogarth Press up as an unrepeatable one-off, these well-meaning historians smother its inspiring effect under a blanket of mystique. Ironically, it is the fact that the works of the Woolfs now command so much stature in cultural history which makes them vulnerable to this kind of treatment. Yet just as Mrs Brown’s presence being negated renders her voiceless, so does Willis and Rosenbaum’s final judgement on the Hogarth Press, as a bounded historical entity, ultimately silence Leonard Woolf’s own convictions. As he writes in his autobiography,

I am not so foolish as to believe that our advantages could not occur again. There is no reason to believe that it is impossible that tomorrow.. there may not be a circle of young, unknown, brilliant writers whom someone might begin to publish on a small scale as we did in 1917. And there is no reason why he should not succeed as we did… (Journey p.126)

A niche as culturally significant as the one that the Hogarth Press occupied is not simply spotted but made. The fact these historians do not realise this is perhaps due to a misplaced ‘sense of perspective.’ One might suggest that it is this inflexible kind of ‘sense of perspective’ that drives Septimus Smith out the window in Mrs Dalloway because it does not give enough credence to the possibility of consciousness being ‘a seeing that literally makes and re-makes life moment by moment’ (Wicke p. 120). That an anomaly like a market for badly made ‘deluxe’ books persisted reinforces the idea that the Hogarth Press’s self-published and self-made ethos permeated the consciousness of the people around them. Although the material success of the press was founded upon factors like good artistic choices, sensible accounting, and good timing, above all, it was holding steadfast to the self-knowledge that the only way they could guarantee the longevity of their enterprise on the terms they wanted it (i.e. complete artistic control despite being a part-time occupation) was to limit their operations, and not be self-conscious about the fact they would remain ‘a mongrel in the business world.’ The physical fruits of their labour, exemplified by the handmade books, express this hybridity in every hurried misplaced stitch on the edge of beautifully spaced text, every enthusiastically chosen avant-garde cover-paper which was as personally loved as it was impractical.

Other presses which followed in the footsteps of the Hogarth Press and had similar aims, such as Laura Riding’s Seizin Press, or Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press (both authors of Hogarth handmade books) simply lacked the ability to grow and become stable, sustainable cultural challengers, as the Hogarth Press did. At least part of the Hogarth Press’ longevity must also be due to the way they pursued this ‘leisure’ activity of a hobby-turned-business with the same all-consuming intensity with which they tackled the ‘proper’ work which occupied their mornings – that is, writing. The way the Woolfs kept the Press physically close to them, (literally living under the same roof until bombing during Second World War forced them to relocate), intertwining the functions of the Press with their daily lives and resisting opportunities to expand so they could maintain total control over all aspects of the business showed that their personal investment in it was much more than just money or time – although Leonard’s shrewd business sense played as much part in their success as Virginia’s talent. Thus although both the Seizin Press and the Hours Press produced beautiful books of some cultural weight, they folded in less than ten years, in contrast to the Hogarth Press which, even after Virginia’s death in 1941, had been in production for over two decades and was still a strong presence on the publishing scene.

The slow and humble beginnings of the Hogarth Press was an advantage when it came to cultivating a nursery for new talent because the support network was mature and the community real. By preferring to limit editorial meddling to the bare essentials the Woolfs also, to some degree, extended the luxurious freedom of uncensored creativity to others. In this way, the Hogarth Press increased the status of the Woolfs amongst their peers. And unlike other private press owners who mainly published their own work, these acts of generosity – like Clarissa Dalloway’s reversal of the spendthrift economy – stood them in good stead as it also extended their cultural potency far beyond their immediate circle.

Although the cultural worth of the Hogarth Press could easily be measured by the impressive number of Noble prizewinners they produced, perhaps the most remarkable consequence was how it allowed Virginia Woolf, as a woman, to create without restraint, be published and read. Thus she influenced society’s values on her own terms – that is, with independent intellectual thought, without having to compromise any of her ideals. That the press could not have succeeded as it did without her, nor could she have written as she did without it, shows that Woolf fulfilled her own prophecies on what a woman needs to create. Here, we return to the territory of Shakespeare’s sister. As a woman wanting to have a real voice in society, financial independence coupled with real cultural influence was not actually a luxury but a necessity only available to the very few. The fact the Virginia Woolf achieved this and now attracts ever increasing scholarship is a testament to the successful in-roads she made by writing a better status for women into being. As Peter Alexander writes,

[S]he gave women a voice at a time when too few good writers spoke for them. To compare her with the other outstanding women writing in English of her period – among them the Modernists Gertrude Stein, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Richardson, H. D. Bryher, Djuna Barnes, Harriet Monroe, and such non-Modernists as Violet Hunt and May Sinclair – is to recognise that she was and remains a centrally important figure.” (p. 211)

That just under thirty years ago, Hermione Lee (who has since become the go-to academic on Woolf) classed her only ‘in the second rank of twentieth-century novelists’ (Lee, 1977, p.14) shows how the dynamic force of Woolf’s writing has continued to affect our consciousness. In the many decades following her death, the feminist legacy which Woolf worked on under the shelter of the Hogarth Press continues to grow, albeit not always in a fashion she would have approved of. However, despite having to deflect no small amount of scorn along the way, her stature now as a central figure within the modernist canon shows how well she used the uniquely privileged position she made for herself.

The significant move Virginia Woolf makes from a feminised object, vulnerable to the whims of a male-dominated publishing culture, to a potent cultural subject in her own right, was due to the empowerment and influence afforded her by press. As Willis puts it,

From the initial frustrations and delights of hand printing [..] to the more complex and time-consuming activities of publishing [..] the Hogarth Press provided Virginia Woolf with physical, emotional, and mental stimulation that must have been as valuable to her as a writer as it was sometimes exhausting to her physically. In the same way that involvement in the activities of the Abbey Theatre did for W. B. Yeats, or Faber and Faber for T.S. Eliot, the press objectified Virginia Woolf’s world, allowing her to keep one hand on the vigorous pulse of daily life in the basement rooms of Tavistock Square. (p.400)

Having created the intellectual space to write and be taken seriously, surrounded by peers and aspiring writers in a place she had real cultural clout, dealing with ideas such as reconfiguring consumption or rewriting women through work like Mrs Dalloway or ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’ – it appears that, with the community of writers, artists, staff and customers they gathered around them, the ‘society of outsiders’ which Woolf called for in Three Guineas was already assembled within her lifetime. The associated luxuries of the press were entirely necessary in creating this, at least in Virginia Woolf’s eyes. As she wrote in her diary (27 October 1930) when considering the possibility of selling the press,

‘What’s money if you sell freedom?’

 

Ping Henningham is Co-Director of Henningham Family Press with her husband, David Henningham. She studied BA Art History at UCL and MA Modernist English Literature at Queen Mary University of London. This essay was originally written as part of her MA, and has been published as a blog in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Leonard and Virginia Woolf starting the Hogarth Press.

 

To see photos of some of the books I examined for this essay, you can now just click onto the British Library blog.

1 Issued as single ‘ballad’ sheets but later collated and bound for collectors.

2 This is the Sterling Collection which is now kept by Senate House Library, University of London.

3 As Rhein notes(p.23), it was quite typical of the Woolfs to underestimate the amount of materials needed and have to buy in more, often completely different papers to complete the run. As with many Hogarth Press handmades, there are also several variations on the front cover label for The Waste Land, some with underlinings, some with asterisks and some with no other embellishments.

WORKS CITED
Alexander, Peter, Leonard and Virginia Woolf: A Literary Partnership, (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992)
Anscombe, Isabelle, Omega and After: Bloomsbury and the Decorative Arts, (London: Thames & Hudson, 1981)
Beechy, James, The Bloomsbury Artists: Prints and Bookdesign, Cat. by Tony Bradshaw, (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1999)
Collin, Judith, The Omega Workshops, (London: Secker & Warburg, 1983)
Eliot, T.S., ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Frank Kermode (London: Faber, 1975)
Lee, Hermione, Virginia Woolf, (London: Chatto and Windus, 1996)
– The Novels of Virginia Woolf, (London: Methuen, 1977)
Rainey, Lawrence, ‘The Price of Modernism: Publishing The Waste Land ‘, Institutions of Modernism, (London: Yale University Press, 1998)
Rhein, Donna, The Handprinted Books of Leonard and Virginia Woolf at The Hogarth Press 1917-1932, Studies in Modern Literature No. 52 (Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1985)
Rosenbaum, S.P., Leonard and Virginia Woolf at The Hogarth Press, (Austin, Texas: The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, 1995)
Wicke, Jennifer, ‘Coterie Consumption: Bloomsbury, Keynes and Modernism as Marketing’, Marketing Modernisms: Self Promotion, Canonization, Re-reading, ed. By Kevin Dittmer & Stephen Watt, (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1999)
Willis Jr., J. H., Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: The Hogarth Press 1917-1941, (Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 1992)
Woolf, Leonard, An Autobiography, II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980)
– The Journey not the Arrival Matters: An Autobiography of the years 1939-1969, (London: The Hogarth Press, 1973)
Woolf, Virginia, A Room of One’s Own/Three Guineas, (London: Penguin, 1993)
– Mrs Dalloway, (London: Penguin, 1996)
Woolf, Virginia, Vanessa Bell with Thoby Stephen, Hyde Park Gate News: The Stephen Family Newspaper, ed. by Gill Lowe, (London: Hesperus Press Ltd, 2005)
Woolmer, J. Howard, A Checklist of the Hogarth Press 1917-1946, (London: The Hogarth Press, 1976)

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From Here – John McAuliffe

June 27th, 2016 | Posted by David in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I’m pasting this understated masterpiece here so as to never lose it, and in case it helps others like it did me. A digital cutting from The Irish Times:

From Here

The word for it might disappear,
the road run through its invisible wall.
The view from here is the border

vanishing around an otter,
swallows, tractor, trailer and damsel-
fly, not so much law as a stretch of water.

Mind your footing on its thin air.
There’s the fault whose tremor you feel.
The view from here is a border

gone over and over, a fact of nature,
an impression that’s begun to snowball,
not so much water as law and order,

a wavering queue, a detention centre,
a dotted line turned block and fractal:
the view from here is the border,
law and order written on water.

John McAuliffe
Originally published in The Irish Times

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The Maximum Wage: Website Now Live

January 25th, 2016 | Posted by David in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Henningham Family Press are proud to announce our next performance publishing extravaganza:

max_wag_banner_pink More (lots more!) info coming soon!
If you can’t wait, just click on The Maximum Wage logo to see our shiny new website.Print

 

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So far Zuidervaart has argued that the Arts are needed, but who should pay for them? And what is the economic argument for doing so? This is what Zuidervaart calls his Public Justice Premise, the second premise of the three found in his book ‘Art In Public’.

Zuidervaart argues that Civil Society should be given the money and space it needs to do its job properly – the resources it needs to produce Solidarity.

The government is only fundamentally satisfied when it knows it has dispensed public justice. For its own fulfilment, the government must discharge its obligation to protect Civil Society from any encroachments on its natural tasks, and provide the resources to undertake them properly. Another example; a judge may demand that prisons be adequately supplied to send people to for punishment and to ensure they don’t appear in front of his bench again. This principle leads to premise number three, the Arts Organisation Premise. Zuidervaart claims that Arts Organisations are the best channel for discharging this government responsibility, which means they deserve some protection from Market Forces and enough money to produce authentic Solidarity.

I like these premises for two reasons. They allow public money to be used for public service without creating a refuge for elitist art at National Lottery player’s expense. Under the current system the arts are paid for by people who neither experience them directly nor can they really afford to pay for them. Their lottery money is capital that could indeed change their lot, if accumulated, but is instead wasted on a fantasy that they might effortlessly escape their lot. The profits subsidise arts that those involved with could afford, but would rather not pay for because they don’t like them that much. But this system continues because it is also true that a system of consumer choice would not improve quality or ‘participation’, and the ghost of something valuable is detectable in the arts. With a consumer choice, if there is a problem you remove yourself and choose a different supplier. But within Civil Society if there is a problem you have to get more, not less, involved.

But most importantly, Zuidervaart has described art as a public good worth paying for, which is my personal litmus test for this topic. Even if art costs money, it is money well spent. Even without attending the arts, all citizens benefit from a climate of freedom. And this is the only book I’ve ever read to argue this persuasively. He dismisses all the efficiency, equity, merit good or market failure arguments, which just try and find an economic excuse for subsidising arts. Despite the good intentions, these excuses just put the arts at the mercy of market values, and remove them from the protection of their own internal logic, like an endangered species put into an economic logic-zoo deprived of its own natural philosophical environment. Instead, Zuidervaart exposes a philosophical reality that we have to protect from urgent demands on the budget or we risk becoming less civilised in real terms.

If you are in doubt as to Civil Society’s importance, in keeping the democratic air we breathe unpolluted, let me refer you to the alternative. In May, a memo from the new Chinese president Xi Jinping was leaked (Taipei Times Wed, May 22, 2013). It referred to “seven evil subjects” to be driven out of Chinese universities. Included was the phrase “civil society”. Today’s debate, which we take for granted, will not be permitted in China. It will, however, be debated at Harvard where Prof Michael Sandel teaches, and it is rumoured Xi Jinping’s daughter Xi Mingze has been studying since 2010.

Edited from a lecture I gave recommending Lambert Zuidervaart’s book ‘Art In Public’ at a seminar on Sphere Sovereignty (June 8th 2013). One more part will follow.

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We made two deluxe Solander Boxes for two key projects that the Poetry Library are exhibiting with Simon Armitage’s Poetry Parnassus in the next few weeks in the Poetry Library. We worked closely with risk-enamoured Head Librarian Chris McCabe and logophile curator Nick Dubois on boxes that will archive hundreds of poems:

‘Polip Poems‘ came out of the Polip Literature festival in Prishtina and is currently on show in the Library.

‘The World Record’ sees hundreds of Parnassus poets from around the world writing their poem on paper  made from fibres gathered from around the globe.

Furthermore, we brought one of our travelling screens to print Au in situ on the luxury writing desk that will be autographed by every visiting poet from around the world who is taking part in the Parnassus.

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Conlon Nancarrow at Purcell Room

April 22nd, 2012 | Posted by David in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Yesterday we took the rare opportunity to see and hear some of  Conlon Nancarrow’s studies for player-piano at the Southbank Centre. Nancarrow punched his own music rolls, writing music that suited the technology itself, rather than simply using it to approximate a professional pianist. The machine in action was something like a life-support machine with all its pistons, pneumatics and paper cylinders.  I hope it doesn’t get relegated to the basement now SBC own it. I hope we’ll see Nancarrow appearing in their general programming.

Here is an extract from a poem of mine that makes mention of Nancarrow. It will appear in a book we’ll be publishing next month. (It is his centenary year, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of him). The poem is a reported monologue from a fireworks display designer who has been commissioned to make a display set to Nancarrow’s avant-garde music.

Green Man Interchange

‘I am profoundly movedby the thought,’
says my companion,
‘That Belisha,
himself a Jewish émigré,
should be so concerned with the welfare of
British children as
they cross the roads
in the Mainland and
Her territories.

And is the zebra crossing not inextricably linked
with the safe passage of the Children of Israel through the Sea?
And is the pillar of fire not an antetype of our Belisha Beacon?
And have you noticed that each keeps its own time?
Is this not a mischevious rebellion
against the tyrranical regimes that girded the globe
at the time of their genesis?
A thaw in the Atomic Age?
And indeed; a defiant mien against the tyrrany of the stars!
The Atomic Clock is lax next
to the relentless pulsar.
All of deep space has synchronised like clocks that share a hallway.
But not so the Earth and Her Belisha Beacons.

These things call me to question my trade.
Do I serve the enemy? (I am speaking of physics).
Is it true that the titilating   jouissance of fireworks;
the golden spermatazoa of Zeus’ holy groin
spread liberally in the night sky with much fizzing;
it all seems to point to a joyful abandonment of time pieces.
But mark my words!
This is the closest point of contact
between warfare and the entertainment industry!
A barrage on the public!
A barrage on the public place!
A barrage on the public purse!
A circus purchased with bread!

All comedy belongs to the fifth column.
Comics occupy the column inches,
they make us laugh at things that are not funny.
At least the working man once mocked his Mother-in-Law
but stoked vengeance at the coalface.

But I am speaking of fireworks;
Since when was entropy fit for children’s parties?
They illuminate all discredited things!
In truth,’
says my companion,
‘I face a most arduous commission:
for the centenary of the birth of Nancarrow,
an American of the Avant Garde,
A display set to his music (of the most peculiar order,
it is not what I call melody.)
It has become clear as I plot this on my laptop computer
that my composition must be of his calibre, even.
There is guile in his manuscript that the 1812 Overture does not demand;
nobody requires that the fireworks be anything more than illustrative.
But with Nancarrow the silence is as much a part of the music as the notes.
And here the dark must be as competently arranged as the light.
And here we approach the paradox at the heart of fireworks:

The inequality between the speed of sound and light.

Let me explain,’
says my companion,
‘With what will the music synchronise?
The flash of light on your retina or
the tapping of the hammer and the stirrup and the drum?
This appears to be a small problem at first, I know,’
says my companion,
‘But it soon grows to occupy the whole mind
as a kind of anxiety
in my line of work.
It is the difference between sound and sense,
the myth of the mind in the body,
the heart of all dischord
Babel,
Quatre Bras,
Kursk
(Never forget;
the greatest gatherings of tongues have always been on the battlefields!)
and the problem of the individual in the State,
the child and the Motherland,
don’t ask me which is which,
I simply mean the impossibility of reconciling things.
Something has to give.
Some things will never suffer destruction.
And people ooh and aah at this?
It is no more surprising than the fact of the gladiatorial games
I suppose.
In its day, the tower of Babel was only two storeys high.

I feel a kinship,’
says my companion,
‘This being N’s dilemma;
An insignificant man, bereft of funding and column inches,
never young and foolish;
a threat between the buttering of toast and his bedtime toilet.
His arrangement of notes on the page raised questions
in the Department of State.
Friendless in Mexico
he turned to the player piano,
(they have more fingers anyway).
I can well imagine a dead planet, where
the missing pianists only remain as a tendency towards ten notes at a time.
He set out to increase the tempo of the revolutions of time,
tending towards the human hand.

I need a new firework for my arsenal,
one of refinement.
I am currently killing time,
but I will drive until evening,’
says my companion,
‘And arrive just after nightfall at the wholesaler.
They will greet me with a nod and
a cup of decaf tea
and they will collapse a neutron star for my benefit.
I am talking of a display, for one, of a single firework.
I will pass judgement on its melancholy embers.

Can we call time on this fiction tonight?

I would love to tell that old alchemist that base metals
indeed turn into gold.
But only in a dying star over an immense passage of time.

We should indeed preserve our Uranium.

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Laurence fondles the leather-effect binding of his complete works of Shakespeare, ‘a part of our heritage’, simultaneously using the volumes to display his refinement and his guest’s lack of taste. If the book goes digital, perhaps it makes this act of snobbery performed in Mike Leigh’s ‘Abigail’s Party’ less likely.

A couple of new technical advances have made the newspapers recently. Amazon can turn your i-Phone into an e-book  for free with their Kindle software. 300,000 books are available. A swipe of your finger re-enacts the turning of paper pages digitally. The Nintendo DS also now has a ‘game’ that allows you to read hundreds of classic novels, while the speakers emit the crackle of a mimetic fireplace. The irony is that this sound-effect will actually consume energy created by the burning of coal many miles away. Sound, but no heat. Do paperbacks store more CO2 than online books constantly consume – backed up in several locations at once and always open? But the wastefulness of paper books wasn’t the only assumption in the print and radio discussions prompted by these announcements.

Panels, such as on Radio 4’s Open Book, could have explored the properties of these inventions logically; their benefits and defecits compared to paper books. Instead we witness a sort of ‘conversation re-enactment society’, general assumptions uncritically repeated in programmes dominated by nostalgia. It occurs to me that what is lacking in these commentaries is a precise analysis of the properties of each kind of reading platform.

The most obvious misconception is that paperback books such as Penguins perform an archival role. In fact they strip out many parts of the book-machine to make them competitive in price. This was the Penguin revolution; quality texts at an affordable price. An archival book has hard covers, lifting the pages above the acidic shelf. The paper is acid free. The pages are folded and stitched. There are endpapers that act like a doormat for the fingers. Bands support the book block itself. The spine may be arched to support a thicker book as it hangs above the shelf. The edges may even be gilded with stainless gold leaf. All these processes are removed in the paperback. But this is not a complaint. One might even argue that most paperbacks last too long. Will a Dan Brown be read and re-read? Will it have notes scribbled in the margin? Possibly by conspiracy theorists, but they probably use pile upon pile of notebooks instead.  Many American journals and academic books continue to make use of the more enduring features; we should not imagine that a paperback and an academic tome are the same machine because they both use paper. They don’t even use the same paper.

In academic research the electronic book brings many advantages, especially in note-taking, cutting and pasting, live-searches of the text better than any index. Hyperlinks to other texts and information… However, this brings to light other possibilities routinely overlooked in the media. Our regard for texts as concrete and unchangable and our definitions of authorship are shaped by the fact that a book is printed and then that is that. If another edition is made, minor changes occur, but with the text remaining live, what stops the reader intervening? Why shouldn’t I re-write one of my own books one morning, even after publication? A physical restraint has become a matter of etiquette. Is this the constant positive refinement of the evolutionary process or the constant revisionism of the Totalitarian view of History? All history adopts the needs of the Party. But I suppose for a panel talking for twenty minutes about the joy of sniffing pages, the territory of the ‘exploded book’ would have caused seizures.

The problem with the e-book is that it is not going far enough. It does not threaten the book, be it the archival machine, the disposable paperback or something inbetween. Obsolescence merely frees these formats up for new purposes. This is also the formative time for the form of the e-book, but it is nostalgia for the paper reading experience that is threatening to make e-reading inadequate. Manufacturers should stop trying to make e-readers look like books, with corny page-turning animations. If they are convenient we will use them. But book design is a phenomenological tradition that takes careful evaluation. Traditionally the central margin of the left page is set and then the top, outside, and foot margins increase in size as you go round by 20%. The opposite is the case for the facing page. This double spread has been around since Medieval times and forms part of the reading experience. It gives room for your thumbs. Yet electronic readers are often single column affairs. What does this imply? Design is not just a matter of paper vs. screen glare.

The reality is that the possibilities for publishing, text composition, and authorship are so radically different that we can’t even see them. We’re even doing some of them already without realising.  This period is a massive opportunity for small presses. Without the confusion of the paperback as primary text-delivery platform, people are grasping that there is a particular place for a well made paper book with original content; they are actually seeing what a book is for the first time. This is the opposite of nostalgia, it is the grasping of the relevant place for a technology in our time. In the same vein we should jettison the nostalgia for paperbacks and ask ourselves which features do we not want to lose in the next generation of electronic reading technology, making it a superior format to the paperback for the quick read. If we continue to encourage the crude approximations of page turning and dog-earing instead of platforms equipped for a transfigured compositional and reading industry, we are losing the essence of traditional book technology. It is like saying you will buy a car, but only if it looks like a horse and is limited to four miles an hour. And it’s not like we shot all the horses.

Laurence returns the complete works of Shakespeare to the shelf saying, ‘Of course, not the kind of thing you can actually read…’ I suspect he is the intended audience for the Nintendo DS Classics Library. It probably won’t be long before someone is showing me theirs and demonstrating how it re-creates the sound of an actual log-fire. Or is it the gentle crackle of a book-burning?

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Sometimes you look at a name and you just know there is an anagram in there.

‘Tiger Woods’ also helps us ponder the danger of hubris with ‘I god’s tower’ and the inevitability of decay with ‘grows to die’, much like many celebrity careers.

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Poppycock

November 9th, 2009 | Posted by David in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The tale is told of a propaganda film where Stalin, wandering along a country lane enjoying the sunshine, comes across a peasant with a broken down tractor. Bizarrely he rolls up his sleeves, inspects the engine and soon it is up and running again. The intention of the propagandist is clear but, as Zizek has pointed out, what the film ends up provoking us to wonder is what kind of system is this that is so broken that the head of state needs to roam the countryside replacing spark plugs and getting cats out of trees.

I recall this story today hearing the news about ‘the Brown blur’, our PM, who has failed to get the facts straight in a hand-written note of condolence to a mother whose son was killed in Afghanistan. But of course the story as reported misses the point, merely describing his ineptitude and provoking a debate over whether he really cares or not. What we should be asking is how a PM should demonstrate his care. He should certainly not be writing little notes. How about forming a war cabinet? Or describing more specific and achievable war aims? How about withdrawing from the process of corrupt ‘State Building’? More troops and equipment would go down well with all service families.

What the row does successfully suggest, though, is that Brown’s focus is on scoring political points with the war instead of winning it. Each decision is weighed against electoral concerns rather than facing up to the cost of securing one’s borders. What enrages me on another Remembrance Day is that we persist in the nineteenth century practice of recruiting the economically disadvantaged, preferably from the North, so Middle Class w***ers can get on with selling houses to each other blissfully ignorant of the process by which we remain safe in our beds. This leads to a situation where war aims are not realised because they make the voters uncomfortable. The (next)  PM must redefine war aims immediately, decide if we can afford to pull out on the basis of the international risks, and then put in place the resources to win.

The poppy has become an increasingly ironic symbol. A reminder of the waste of a generation in the trenches, it has now come full circle to Afghanistan, where, as in India, the British government in collaboration with the East India Co. cultivated an illegal Opium Trade designed to bypass Chinese sovereignty and make lots of money. The poppy fields there were part of the deliberate destabilisation of the region for profit. And indeed the country was also the buffer zone between the Raj and the Russian Empire. May the poppy serve not only as a reminder of the government’s failure to remember not to waste young lives for the sake of votes, but also a reminder that we are are literally and metaphorically reaping what they sowed over a hundred years ago.

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June last year many of you will remember the show we did with Half-handed Cloud in the Foundry, where the basement was adapted to be a giant record player. The poster we released at that show has followed us ever since – at dinner with friends and at  parties we are occassionally greeted by one of the edition as we enter their home.

Now fans of H-hC in the USA can buy the poster through the Asthmatic Kitty record label. And a new release compiling the dispirate and sometimes ephemeral H-hC releases is also just out.

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