Faber and Faber: 90 Years of Excellence in Cover Design
Wednesday 6th October 2021
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 will trace 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. Faber and Faber is the last of the great publishing houses to remain independent.
Toby Faber is an experienced lecturer and public speaker who has been accredited by The Arts Society since 2012. His career began with Natural Sciences at Cambridge and has been through investment banking, management consulting and four years as managing director of Faber and Faber, the publishing company founded by his grandfather, where he remains on the board. He is also non-executive Chairman of its sister company, Faber Music and a director of Liverpool University Press.
He has written three narrative histories: Stradivarius – Five Violins, One Cello and a Genius; Faberge’s Eggs; and Faber & Faber – The Untold Story, as well as a novel, Close to the Edge. Of these, only Faber & Faber – The Untold Story is published by the family firm.