Martin Paul Eve bio photo

Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Cheap it is not, but the Folio Society Edition of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker is a beautiful item to behold.

The front cover

The edition itself is limited to a run of 1,000 copies signed by the illustrator, Quentin Blake, and ours is #15.


The illustrations themselves are wonderful. The dogs, in particular, are stunning (and, of course, key to the novel itself.)


The book also contains an afterword by Rowan Williams – an “Ardship of Cambry” himself, as the novel might have it – which contains the excellent line: “If all good fiction has the effect of making us strange in our own eyes and ears, Hoban’s books are very good fiction indeed; and Riddley Walker holds a unique place simply because it is the most systematic in both imagining and enacting the alchemical transmutations of speech in the wake of unimaginable cultural trauma.”


The notes from Quentin Blake are also excellent here and it is great that he used quill pens, in the age of technological printing, to make the drawings. Some credit should definitely also go to Jake Wilson (surely the “mutual friend” to whom Quentin refers), whom I know has worked silently and uncredited behind the scenes on various parts of this project.