Books

The Forgotten Trade

Nigel Tattersfield (and others)

`I pray people will read this richly detailed and absorbing book, with its vivid renaissance of a matter most of us English seem to have wished into oblivion. ' John Fowles Meticulously kept by Walter Prideaux, the log of the Daniel and Henry provides an astonishing record of a trading venture in the year 1700. Two years earlier, the Guinea trade had been prised loose by an Act of Parliament from the monopoly of the Royal African Company, and respectable burghers in a dozen small provincial ports seized what they saw as an opportunity for quick rewards from the slave trade. Few of these merchants knew anything of trading in Africa, nor of the unscrupulous tribalchiefs who readily offered men, women and children in hard bargaining for beads, alcohol, weapons and gunpowder. In the second part of this book, Tattersfield went in search of long-forgotten documents to chart how small provincial ports fared both economically and morally in the early years of slave trading.

The Aristos

John Fowles

Two years after The Collector had brought him international recognition and a year before he published The Magus, John Fowles set out his ideas on life in The Aristos. The chief inspiration behind them was the fifth century BC philosopher Heraclitus. In the world he posited of constant and chaotic flux the supreme good was the Aristos, 'of a person or thing, the best or most excellent its kind'.'What I was really trying to define was an ideal of human freedom (the Aristos) in an unfree world,' wrote Fowles in 1965. He called a materialistic and over-conforming culture to reckoning with his views on a myriad of subjects - pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, Christianity, humanism, existentialism, socialism

Mantissa

John Fowles

Miles Green wakes up in a mysterious hospital with no idea of how he got there or who he is. He definitely doesn't remember his wife, or his children's names. An impossibly shapely specialist doctor tells him his memory nerve-centre is connected to sexual activity, and calls in the even shapelier Nurse Cory to assist with treatment... In the most unorthodox of hospital rooms we eavesdrop on the serious discourse, virulent abuse and hilarious mockery of the erotic guerilla war that is Mantissa.

Journals Vol II

John Fowles

The first volume of John Fowles's Journals ended with him achieving international literary renown after the publication of The Collector and The Magus, and leaving London behind to live in a remote house near Lyme Regis. This final volume charts the rewards and struggles of his continuing literary career, but at the same time reveals the often reluctant celebrity behind the outward success.

Enjoying a reputation as one of the world's leading novelists, Fowles wins enormous wealth, kudos and attention, has the satisfaction of seeing The French Lieutenant's Woman turned into a highly acclaimed Hollywood film, but none the less comes to regard his fame with deep ambivalence.

It cannot repair the growing strains between himself and his wife Elizabeth, who does not share his taste for rural isolation, nor can it cure the disenchantment he feels for an increasingly materialist society.

This concluding volume of the Journals marks a writer's continuing quest for wisdom and self-understanding.

The French Lieutenant's Woman

John Fowles

Of all John Fowles' novels The French Lieutenant's Woman received the most universal acclaim and today holds a very special place in the canon of post-war English literature. From the god-like stance of the nineteenth-century novelist that he both assumes and gently mocks, to the last detail of dress, idiom and manners, his book is an immaculate recreation of Victorian England. Not only is it the epic love story of two people of insight and imagination seeking escape from the cant and tyranny of their age, The French Lieutenant's Woman is also a brilliantly sustained allegory of the decline of the twentieth-century passion for freedom

Daniel Martin

John Fowles

Set internationally and spanning three decades, Daniel Martin is, among other things, an exploration of what it is to be English. Daniel is a screenwriter working in Hollywood, who finds himself dissatisfied with his career and with the person he has become. In a richly evoked narrative, Daniel travels home to reconcile with a dying friend, and also to visit his own forgotten past in an attempt to discover himself.

The Journals Volume 1

John Fowles

In 1963 John Fowles won international recognition with his first published novel The Collector. But his roots as a serious writer can be traced back long before to the journal he began as a student at Oxford in the late 1940s and continued to keep faithfully over the next half century. Written with an unsparing honesty and forthrightness, it reveals the inner thoughts and creative development of one of the twentieth century's most innovative and important novelists.

This first-hand account of the road to fame and fortune holds the reader's attention with all the narrative power of the novels, but also offers an invaluable insight into the intimate relationship between Fowles's own life and his fiction.

The Magus

John Fowles

On a remote Greek Island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion intertwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games. John Fowles expertly unfolds a tale that is lush with over-powering imagery in a spellbinding exploration of human complexities. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a feast for the mind and the senses.

The Collector

John Fowles

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

The Tree

John Fowles

In this series of moving recollections involving both his childhood and his work as a mature artist, John Fowles explains the impact of nature on his life and the dangers inherent in our traditional urge to categorise, to tame and ultimately to possess the landscape. This acquisitive drive leads to alienation and an antagonism to the apparent disorder and randomness of the natural world.

For John Fowles the tree is the best analogue of prose fiction, symbolising the wild side of our psyche, and he stresses the importance in art of the unpredictable, the unaccountable and the intuitive.

This fascinating text gives a unique insight into the author and offers the key to a true understanding of the inspiration for his work.

Wormholes

John Fowles

Here, for the first time, is a riveting collection of Fowles's fugitive and intensely personal writings composed sinced 1963, ranging from essays and literary criticism to commentaries, autobiographical statements, memoirs and musings. Wormholes is a delicious sampling of the various matters that have plagued, preoccupied, or delighted Fowles throughout his life; it is a rich mine of essays as art and a `geography' of the mind of one of the twentieth century's greatest novelists.

The Ebony Tower

John Fowles

The Ebony Tower is a series of novellas, rich in imagery, exploring the nature of art. In the title story, a journalist visiting a celebrated but reclusive painter is intrigued by the elderly artist's relationship with two beautiful young women. John Fowles reputation as a master storyteller was further advanced by this collection, which echoed themes and preoccupations from his other books.

A Maggot

John Fowles

In his prologue, John Fowles tells us that A Maggot began as a vision he had of five travellers riding with mysterious purpose through remote countryside. This image gives way to another - a hanging corpse with violets stuffed in its mouth - which leads us into a maze of beguiling paths and wrong turnings, disappearances and revelations, unaccountable motives and cryptic deeds, as this compelling mystery swerves towards a starling vision at its centre.

Biography

John Fowles was born in England in 1926 and educated at Bedford School and Oxford University. John Fowles won international recognition with his first published title, THE COLLECTOR (1963). He was immediately acclaimed as an outstandingly innovative writer of exceptional imaginative power and this reputation was confirmed with the appearance of his subsequent works. John Fowles died in 2005.