Does Folio Society make some of the most beautiful books in the world? Without question. We’re obsessed with the new editions hitting the shelves right now.

The Folio Society may not be Britain’s best-known publisher, but it might well be the best. The secret to the publishing house’s success, which began when it was founded in 1947 by Charles Ede, is its dedication to producing beautifully illustrated books, usually with pictures by well-known artists, at a price only slightly higher than normal hardback book. Usually, one would expect to spend hundreds of pounds on volumes of this quality, but Folio’s careful investment and dedication to customer service has meant that many devoted disciples have built up considerable collections of its beautiful books over the years.

Folio Society continues to release new titles several times a year, which can include everything from works of high literature to the bestselling likes of Lee Child and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series, all of which are produced, typeset and illustrated with the same painstaking attention to detail. The latest batch of May releases is a typically eclectic and interesting selection. Whether you’re into history, literature, art or something else entirely, there is always something lovely for you courtesy of the Folio Society. Long may its dedication to beautiful books continue.

Here we take a look some forthcoming releases we’re itching to get our hands on.

Five Little Pigs

Witten by Agatha Christie, illustrated by Andrew Davidson


Folio’s commitment to publishing some of the greatest crime novels ever written, complete with achingly beautiful illustrations, continues apace with its release of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novel Five Little Pigs, which many have suggested might be her greatest ever book, along with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Sumptuously illustrated by Andrew Davidson, who effortlessly brings the golden age glamour and suspense of the tale to life, this is a real must-buy for any crime or Christie collector. If you love classic 1930s travel poster style imagery and the golden age of crime writing, it’s quite simple: you must buy this book. £36.95

Mr Rabbit’s Symphony of Nature and Other Tails

Written and illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk


Another title from the new collection which we’re poised to pounce on with enormous eagerness is the latest book from artist extraordinaire, Charles van Sandwyk. An illustrator heavily influenced by the likes of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac – giants of the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of children’s book illustration from the early 20th century – he has enjoyed a long and fulfilling relationship with the Folio Society, having previously illustrated editions of Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland. Yet he is also a writer himself. With one previously published his book – How To See Fairies – for the Society already under his belt, his new title, Mr Rabbit’s Symphony of Nature and Other Tails, is both a fabulously beautiful book for children and a treat for all aesthetically inclined adults. A Folio Society original book, Mr Rabbit’s Symphony of Nature and Other Tails cannot be bought anywhere else in any other format. £42.95

De Profundis

Oscar Wilde, introduced by Oscar Wilde


Folio’s new rendition of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, complete with introduction by rock legend Patti Smith, remains one the greatest – and most heart-breaking – love letters ever written. Penned in 1897 towards the end of Wilde’s two-year sentence for his then-illegal relationship with ‘Bosie’ – Lord Alfred Douglas – it is a shattering and deeply affecting work that speaks not only of his great love, but also of his spectacular fall from grace. Wilde never recovered his glittering pre-imprisonment life, remaining ever after a diminished figure. The shining star of literary London would become a pitiable figure on the fringes of society until his posthumous rehabilitation in the eyes of subsequent generations. This volume, like its author, is sublime. £34.95

Collected Poems

Philip Larkin, foreword by Andrew Motion


This very fine collection of Philip Larkin’s poetry is introduced beautifully by the former Poet Laureate Anders Motion. The chronological progression through his work charts the key points in his career, and most winningly of all, here for the first time they are illustrated using rare photographs taken by Larkin himself. A poet of the everyday, his colloquial style resonated then, as now, with a wide and appreciative readership, for whom the elevation of the banal to poetry remains an astonishing thing. So clear a chord did Larkin strike that he was named Britain’s greatest post-war writer by The Times in 2008. £34.95

Killing Floor

Written by Lee Child, illustrated by Oliver Barrett, introduced by Malcolm Gladwell


Does the very mention of Jack Reacher have you edging closer to the edge of your seat? Perhaps, then, it’s time to go back to the beginning with Lee Child’s very first novel in the series – this time with illustrations from the brilliant Oliver Bennet, which deftly and beautifully convey the tense, action-packed drama. Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent (but of course) introduction lays out exactly why Jack Reacher is a cut above the average action hero.

Eagle Against The Sun

Ronald H Spector, foreword by Paul Kennedy


Folio Society doesn’t just produce beautiful works of fiction. It also has a commendable archive of non-fiction, of which this latest – Eagle Against The Sun – is an exemplar. Featuring hand-drawn maps and archival photographs, Spector’s history of World War Two in the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is definitive. Published by Folio to commemorate 75 years since VJ Day in August, the book gives vivid accounts of the American war against Japan, with a foreword from Paul Kennedy, professor of History at Yale. This book is compulsory reading for cadet-officers at the United States Military Academy, West Point. We can see why. Now they will have a beautiful edition to read it from. £75

Rendez-Vous With Rama

Written by Arthur C Clarke, illustrated by Matt Griffin


For fans of science fiction, this Arthur C Clarke classic represents the very best of the genre. As Folio details, ‘Winning multiple awards, Rendezvous with Rama is one of his most celebrated novels, examining the key questions of humanity’s place in the universe with Clarke’s trademark imagination and scientific rigour.’ Griffin’s sci-fi illustrations are stunning, the strong colour vibrant against a grey New York backdrop. £39.95

By Nancy Alsop
May 2020

READ MORE

Book Club: My Wild And Sleepless Nights By Clover Stroud
The Big GWG Books Round-Up
The Folio Society's Top 11 Books for Social Distancing

Nancy Alsop

Editor

Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.

FIND OUT MORE