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January 2004


Literary New Year Honours

Two well known literary names feature in the 2004 New Year Honours List.

Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor, diplomat, travel writer and one-time SOE operative with partisans in WW2 Crete, is made a Knight Bachelor in the Diplomatic list for services to literature and UK-Greek relations.

Phillip Pullman, author of the trilogy 'His Dark Materials', receives the CBE.

M6 Toll Road built on Pulp Fiction!

The new 27 mile M6 Toll relief motorway to the north of Birmingham in the West Midlands, opened in December 2003, has a special ingredient in the finish of the road surface. It has emerged that the life of the road surface is improved by the inclusion of pulped books and more than 2,500,000 were used to help bind the Tarmac and asphalt and also provide a sound absorbent quality to the road surface.

Seamus Heaney and the Thomas Hardy Society

The Nobel prize-winning poet, Seamus Heaney, has just delighted members of the Thomas Hardy Society by accepting an offer to become one of their Vice Presidents.

It is really a double celebration because he has also recently accepted an invitation to give poetry readings during the Thomas Hardy Conference in Dorchester next August. Chairman of the Hardy Society Furse Swann said: 'I am thrilled that, for the first time in the Society's 35-year history, we now have a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature as one of our Vice Presidents. It is a great honour for the Society'.

Heaney has visited Max Gate, Hardy's home in Dorchester, at least twice; on one of those occasions, Millennium Eve, he went to Max Gate incognito so that he could read Hardy's poem 'The Darkling Thrush' in the garden to mark the centenary of the poem's publication. Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and was subsequently made a Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He has always been a Hardy enthusiast. In a recent interview with Irish Radio, Heaney said that Hardy's poetry made him say 'Yes' because it gave him a feeling that something was 'coming home' to him.

Kinnell Publications
from Magpie Books

Kinnell Publications was formed by Richard G. Lewis, a reclusive London science fiction bookseller, and Arthur Cunningham, a collector and part-time bookdealer of many years.

The small imprint, run on a very part-time basis by the pair, concentrated on hardcover trade editions of genre fiction titles, previously only published in paperback. A surprising number of authors, including illustrious names such as Philip K Dick, are only published in paperback until they are well established, sought after and collected. Thus Kinnell cornered a niche market producing first hardcover editions prized by collectors.

Science fiction publishing was in an interesting state. Perhaps a little before its time and certainly before science fiction was regarded as a significant genre in the world of publishing, the noted science fiction critic Roz Kaveney persuaded mainstream publisher Chatto and Windus to produce Tim Power’s “Anubis Gates” and “Dinner at Deviants Palace” and also Lucius Shepherd’s “Green Eyes”. Indicating the size and potential of the market, all three had sold out in the hardcover trade edition within weeks of publication in 1985-6. Despite this success, and the wider readership of science fiction and fantasy, publishers remained wary of printing hardcover editions.

In addition, other UK small presses of the time such as Kerosina, Morrigan and Drunken Dragon were publishing small runs of books with ‘added value’, bound and boxed with additional material, in the science fiction, fantasy and horror fields.

Kinnell came about in 1986 while Arthur Cunningham and his then partner Pam were living in Richard Lewis's front room! The name Kinnell was decided upon one night after many hours wrangling over an appropriate name for the new business.

Cunningham recalls “Lewis favoured 'The Myrmidon Press', while I wanted something more workaday. Finally, Pam, who had been patiently listening to all this while trying to watch the TV, said, “’kin' hell! Why can't you two make up your minds?”’. Both Richard and I paused and looked at each other. Richard said, 'What did you say?'. Pam said, “’kin' hell why can't you two buggers make up your minds”. I looked at Richard and said, 'Kinnell?'. To which he said, 'OK'.”

Kinnell used a simple format, generally reusing the existing cover art where possible and resisting the temptation to produce deluxe editions. The occasional Kinnell leather bound founders and presentation copies have found their way on to the market in recent years, but in general the Kinnell first hardcover editions are standard publications. One notable exception to the reuse of cover art was the strikingly original wraparound jacket artwork by science fiction author Keith Roberts for Philip K.Dick’s “Our Friends from Frolix 8”.

Although the Kinnell print runs were generally in the relatively small 1500-2000 range none of the titles have become particularly scarce. Because they were marketed to collectors via specialist shops and catalogue dealers, a large number are still in existence (and, we can confidently predict, in pristine condition).

In all, 19 titles were published over 5 years. Although in 1991 they broke with their previous tradition and purchased the rights to reprint “The Rose” by Charles Harness, which would have been a reprint of an earlier Sidgwick and Jackson 1968 hardcover, it never appeared. It was then, after a very busy publishing year, Cunningham moved to Yorkshire to take up the post of Head of Bibliographic Publishing at the British Library. The distance and new responsibilities made carrying on the business difficult to the point at which Cunningham asked Lewis if he would like to take over completely. In 1992 Lewis took control of Kinnell. Since that day, no more books were ever published under the Kinnell imprint although they continued selling their back catalogue right up until Richard Lewis’s departure to New Zealand some years later. Arthur Cunningham and Richard Lewis, however, remained the best of friends.



Title, Author


The Mad Man Theory 

Dec '87:

A Room to Die In, Ellery Queen (Jack Vance)


Apr '88:

The Mad Man Theory, Ellery Queen (Jack Vance)


Oct '88:

Stinger, Robert R. McCammon



May '89:

Act of Love, Joe R. Lansdale



The Orphan, Robert Stallman


Jun '89:

Our Friends from Frolix 8, Philip K. Dick


Our Friends from Frolix 8 


A Talent for War, Jack McDevitt


Aug '89:

The Captive, Robert Stallman



Bethany’s Sin, Robert R. McCammon


Bethany’s Sin 

Oct '89:

The Drive-In, Joe R. Lansdale


Apr '90:

They Thirst, Robert R. McCammon


May '90:

Sunglasses After Dark, Nancy A. Collins


Sunglasses After Dark 


The Drive-In 2 (Not Just One of Them Sequels), Joe R. Lansdale


Jul '90:

Necroscope IV: Deadspeak, Brian Lumley



The Night Boat, Robert R. McCammon


Oct '90:

Dead in the West, Joe R. Lansdale


Dead in the West 


The Beast, Robert Stallman


Mar '92:

All Hallow’s Eve, Richard Laymon



Beware, Richard Laymon



Whitbread shortlist

The category winners who will go forward to enter for the overall 'Whitbread Book of the Year' Prize on 27th January are:

    Novel: Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
    First novel: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little
    Children's book: David Almond, The Fire Eaters
    Biography: DJ Taylor, Orwell - The Life
    Poetry: Don Paterson, Landing Light

Each wins £5,000 and the overall winner will win a further £25,000.

Next Month: The feature for February will be by Fantastic Literature

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