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08 January 2019Faber & Faber: 90 Years of Excellence in Cover Design
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Faber & Faber: 90 Years of Excellence in Cover Design Toby Faber Tuesday 08 January 2019

Since its foundation in 1925, Faber and Faber has built a reputation as one of London’s most important literary publishing houses. Part of that relates to the editorial team that Geoffrey Faber and his successors built around them - TS Eliot was famously an early recruit - but a large part is also due to the firm’s insistence on good design and illustration.

This lecture traces the history of Faber and Faber through its illustrations, covers and designs. Early years brought innovations like the Ariel Poems – single poems, beautifully illustrated, sold in their own envelopes. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was an emphasis on typography, led by the firm’s art director Berthold Wolpe; his Albertus font is still used on City of London road signs. In the 1980s, the firm started its association with Pentagram, responsible for the ‘ff’ logo. Along the way, it has employed some of our most celebrated artists as cover illustrators – from Rex Whistler and Barnett Freedman to Peter Blake and Damien Hirst.

Slides will range from book covers, advertisements and photos of key individuals, to illustrations of the concepts behind the designs. The talk will also be peppered with personal insight and anecdote. Faber and Faber is the last of the great publishing houses to remain independent.

Toby Faber has written two works of narrative history, ‘Stradivarius’ and ‘Fabergé's Eggs’, published by Macmillan in the UK and Random House in the US. He has given lectures associated with these two subjects at venues including The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Library of Congress and the Huntington Library, as well as at a number of literary festivals.

His career began with reading Natural Sciences at Cambridge and has been through investment banking, management consulting and five years as managing director of the publishing company, Faber and Faber, which was founded by his grandfather, Geoffrey Faber, where he remains on the board. He is also non-executive Chairman of its sister company, Faber Music, and is a director of Liverpool University Press and the Copyright Licensing Agency.