Thursday, 28 November 2013

Michael Walmer (Publisher)

Many bloggers are lucky enough to receive review copies from publishers; it's something I've found interesting to track through my 6.5 years as a blogger.  At first, only a few publishers thought it was a good idea - then it became quite widespread and we were inundated - then the recession hit, and publishers wisely held back a bit.  I still get offered a fair few, but don't accept very many (and all the unsolicited ones doubtless go to one of the five other addresses in Oxford I've lived at since starting my blog).  Since I don't have an e-reader, that cuts out a fair few review books too, now that people often want to send them that way.

But sometimes I get really excited about a review book offer - and that's when they come from a reprint publisher.  It's no secret that I prefer books from the early 20th century, and I love it when review titles come from Persephone (a little pile waiting to be read, sorry), Bloomsbury, Hesperus, Penguin etc. which are reprints of hard-to-find authors or titles.

Even more exciting is when I hear about a new reprint publisher - and so I was very happy to get an email from Michael Walmer - both the name of the man and the one-man publishing house, I think - and I quote the beginning of his blurb from his website:
Michael Walmer has set about publishing a list where the main ingredient is quality. Authors will be sourced from all over the world, with a love of erudition, be it elegant or rough-edged, simple or complex, poetic or blunt, or all of these!, as the enlivening and guiding principle.
It's early days, and the list is obviously quite short at the moment, but what a list it is!  He has certainly gone for witty writers, and his authors currently include Saki, Ada Leverson, Ronald Firbank, and Max Beerbohm.  Also on the list is Mary Webb, but I shan't hold that against him.  A few reprint series have specialised in interwar novelists, but I think this late-Victorian/Edwardian period has been hitherto a bit neglected, and I think Walmer has chosen a fruitful area.

I was spoiled for choice, but opted for a review copy of Stella Benson's first novel I Pose. When I reviewed her novel Living Alone, I said that I wanted to read something equally witty and surreal, but without the fantasy hoo-ha.  Well, I'm about halfway through I Pose and it seems to be the very book I'd hoped for - I'm absolutely loving it, and it was pretty scarce before Walmer brought it back into print.  Hurrah!  (I will, of course, review it properly in due course.)

The books are print on demand, but much, much better quality than you'd usually expect from POD titles - and they have properly designed, individual covers, so often (sadly) lacking from PODs.  Do go and check out the website for more info about the authors and titles available, and how to order - let me know what takes your fancy!


  1. Humble thanks, Simon, for a lovely write-up. I hope you continue to enjoy I Pose - I'll publish all of Benson's works over time to build up a set. And, in turn, I'll forgive you for not liking Mary Webb!

  2. Oh, these books sound *lovely* Simon! Hurrah for smaller publishers bringing back lost books! I see there is a Ronal Firbank, which reminds me that I must dig out my copy of Valmouth and return to it - I stalled on my last attempt but am still curious!

    1. If there is anything you'd like to review, Kaggsy, please let me

  3. I'm reading 'Vainglory' at the moment, you're right about the quality of the book - much better than POD I've come across before.

    1. The only other POD book I've had which was almost as nice were the ones from Dodo Press - but they don't have the individually designed covers Michael Walmers' have.


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