New imprint sets out to revive the published essay

If you’re a fan of the essay like me, then you’ll know that sources are very limited, especially in a printed, hard-copy printed kind of way. But it looks like the salvation may be just around the corner in the form of Notting Hill Editions, an imprint who launched last month with the sole aim of bringing essay publication back into vogue.

To support the imprint’s launch, Notting Hill Editions’ Editorial Director, Lucasta Miller, had the following to say:

In the 19th century essayists such as Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt and Thomas De Quincey found a huge readership, as did George Orwell in the 20th. Now is the perfect time to reinvigorate the essay. As journalistic articles get shorter and shorter, we need a platform for serious, literary writing. Today there seems to be little on offer between the soundbite and the monolithic monograph. A skilfully-written essay can be an incredibly satisfying and stimulating read.

And judging by the apparent quality of Notting Hill Editions’ publications, it looks like they’re mighty serious about elevating the essay form to a grander level. RobAroundBooks has yet to get its grubby hands on any of the titles, but I have it on good authority that all the books are manufactured to the highest quality, with each title coming as a luxurious hardback edition.

The launch titles are certainly diverse and wide-ranging. They include Georges Perec’s Thoughts of Sorts, described as a ‘a unique collection of philosophical riffs on his obsession with lists, puzzles, catalogues, and taxonomies’, Richard Sennett’s The Foreigner, which explores the displacement of ‘outsider groups’ in two metropolitan settings, during two key historical periods, and The Portable Paradise by Jonathan Keates, which delves into the wonderful world of vintage guidebooks. Future authors will include Susan Greenfield, James Fenton and Simon Heffer

If you’ve not visited the Notting Hill Editions website yet, then I urge you to do so. Not only can you browse and buy all of the Notting Hill Editions’ essay publications, and read extracts from all of them, but you can also dip into the Essay Library which links to 100 of the greatest essays ever written (such a subjective thing, I know :)). And if that’s not enough to satisfy your needs, then you can also read the Notting Hill Editions Journal, which publishes a new essay online, each week. Fantastic!

Oh, and while were on the subject, you might also want to get yourself along to this Radio 4 Today page where you can hear a recording of Lucasta Miller discussing essays with a dear favourite on RobAroundBooks, Sarah Bakewell, author of the wonderful Montaigne biography, How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer (Vintage Books). Trust me, your click will be worth it.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn’t bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).