Friday 24 June 2011


Ray Russell recently wrote a guest blog over at Confessions of a Technophobe, suggesting that a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment in publishing comes from collaborating with other people. We thought we would list here some of the small presses we've worked with over the years, and the books we have jointly published.
Aklo and Ornaments in Jade
Caermaen Books. Mark Valentine and Roger Dobson used this imprint back in the 1980s and 1990s, notably publishing five issues of the highly regarded magazine, Aklo. Ray first met Mark and Roger in Usk at a meeting of the old Arthur Machen Society, and collaborated with them on the publication of Ornaments in Jade, with an Introduction by Barry Humphries. In 1998 Mark and Roger were discussing what to do with the material already accepted for future issues of Aklo, some of which didn’t fit the format of the magazine. A final, last hardback volume was the way forward, jointly edited by Mark, Roger and Ray, and produced by Tartarus.

Ornaments in Jade by Arthur Machen, 1997
Aklo, 1998

The Collected Strange Stories
Durtro Press. David Tibet used this imprint until relatively recently (he now publishes as Coptic Cat). It was David who first communicated to us his enthusiasm for Robert Aickman, letting us borrow his books, and persuading us that a Collected Aickman was something we should publish jointly. It was a massive undertaking (half a million words!), and not without problems. It was a considerable investment at a time when we weren’t able to judge Aickman’s popularity. We’d like to think that this volume helped seal his reputation among aficionados of the Strange Tale.

The Collected Strange Stories of Robert Aickman, 1999

The Life of Arthur Machen
Arthur Machen Society/Friends of Arthur Machen
Back in the days of the old Arthur Machen Society, Ray Russell produced the last two issues of the journal Avallaunius as hardback books for the Society. These provided the format for the journal of the subsequent Friends of Arthur Machen journal, Faunus. In association with the AMS, he and Jon Preece arranged for the publication of Vincent Starrett’s study of Machen, A Novelist of Ecstasy and Sin as a memorial volume to the late Christopher Palmer. Precious Balms was also produced for the membership, and the most ambitious project was John Gawsworth's Life of Arthur Machen jointly published by Tartarus, the Friends of Arthur Machen and Reino de Redonda (official imprint of the realm of Redonda).

Faunus issues sixteen and seventeen, 1997
Avallaunius, various issues 1998 to date
Precious Balms by Arthur Machen, 1999
The Life of Arthur Machen by John Gawsworth, 2005 (also in association with Reino de Redonda)
N by Arthur Machen, 2010 (also in association with The Stoke Newington Literary Festival)

The Wandering Soul and The Lost Poetry
PS Publishing
Pete and Nicky Crowther at PS Publishing had already arranged to publish a large collection of material by William Hope Hodgson, edited by Jane Frank, but decided that it needed a rather more 'archaic' design than was usual for their PS Publications. For some reason they thought of us (!) In this instance we managed to interest two quite different readerships in Hodgson's works.

The Wandering Soul and The Lost Poetry, by William Hope Hodgson, 2005

N by Machen, and The Inner Room by Aickman
The Stoke Newington Literary Festival
A small paperback printing of Arthur Machen’s short story ‘N’, to promote a reading and discussion of Machen by comedian Stewart Lee at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

N by Machen, 2010

Halifax Ghost Story Festival.
A small paperback printing of Robert Aickman’s short story ‘The Inner Room’, to promote a reading and discussion of Aickman by Jeremy Dyson (League of Gentlemen) at the Halifax Ghost Story Festival.

The Inner Room by Robert Aickman, 2010

The House of the Hidden Light
Ferret Fantasy. Really a collaboration between George Locke, Bob Gilbert and Ray Russell, who cooked-up the project between them one lunchtime in The Plough in Museum Street, London. We can’t quite recall what Ferret Fantasy’s input actually was, although the proprietor managed to acquire forty copies for himself, and had his imprint added to the book.

The House of the Hidden Light by Arthur Machen and A.E. Waite.

Monday 20 June 2011


One of the options available to the modern publisher is the creation of ebooks. As a part of our commitment to Sarban’s writings, and our aim to make his work as widely available as possible, we are tentatively exploring the technology by making available:

The Sound of His Horn by Sarban

Ringstones by Sarban

The Doll Maker by Sarban

We already have Ringstones and The Doll Maker available as hardback volumes, and in due course will also be putting back into print The Sound of His Horn and The Sacrifice and Other Stories.

Friday 17 June 2011

Mark Valentine

Mark Valentine
Tartarus Press has received encouragement and support from many people over the years, but we probably owe the biggest debt of thanks to Mark Valentine. Not only has he suggested many books for publication to us, and has written Introductions for a number of these, but for several years he has edited our journal, Wormwood. We’ve been pleased to publish his highly-regarded tales of the Connoisseur, and recently his biography of Sarban, Time, A Falconer.
This latest volume has received well-deserved praise from some impressive sources:

"It is somewhat unsettling to imagine this quiet man sorting out visa applications or attending dull formal receptions and all the while brooding on the taloned cat-women." Robert Irwin, The Literary Review

"Insightful... [Valentine] illuminates his study of Sarban's fiction with observations gleaned from the author's private diaries and correspondence, and offers particularly cogent insights on how the women in Sarban's life shaped the mystique of female characters in his fiction." - Publishers Weekly

"A sensitive and sympathetic portrait … [Valentine] weaves his analyses of Sarban’s fiction seamlessly into the broader tapestry spun from the known biographical facts. The result is a thoroughly engrossing account of the writer’s intellectual growth and interests in the course of his lifetime." Stefan Dziemianowicz, Locus, June 2011

Bibliography of Contributions to Tartarus Press
by Mark Valentine:

Time, A Falconer, by Mark Valentine
In Violet Veils, 1999
Masques and Citadels, 2003


The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen, 1998 and 2006
The Doll Maker by Sarban, 1999
The Green Round by Arthur Machen, 2000
The Lost Stradivarius by John Meade Falkner, 2000
Wormwood, issues 1-16
Various Temptations by William Sansom, 2002
The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson, 2004
Father Raven by A.E. Coppard, 2006
Strangers and Pilgrims by Walter de la Mare, 2007
Sredni Vashtar by Saki, 2008
The Discovery of Heretics by Sarban, 2011
Powers of Darkness by Robert Aickman, 2011

(Aklo, 1998)
Wormwood, issues 1-16

Friday 10 June 2011

The Publisher’s Dilemma

Father Raven and Other Tales by A.E. Coppard
A.E. Coppard is a strange and wonderful writer, and we were very pleased to be given permission to publish Father Raven and Other Tales back in 2006. We thoroughly enjoyed reading Coppard’s various volumes of short stories and assembling  the definitive collection of his supernatural tales, and were delighted with Mark Valentine's insightful new Introduction, which provided a critical and biographical overview.

We printed 300 copies of Father Raven. We usually hope that our publications will stay in print for approximately five years, because we like to have a comprehensive list of books available at any one time. On the other hand, we do want to sell them…  We are now down to the last few copies of Father Raven, and have been considering whether or not to reprint it.

Over the years we have reprinted Arthur Machen’s books many times. We also reprinted the Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions, the Collected Macabre Stories of L.P. Hartley, and have recently made The White Hands by Mark Samuels and Worming the Harpy by Rhys Hughes available as paperbacks, along with the Collected Connoisseur stories of Mark Valentine. As we use old-fashioned printing and binding technology (lithographic printing and sewn sections), hard-back reprints involve a considerable investment (unlike modern print-on-demand publishing), and we are aware that a reprint will not sell to customers who have already bought the first printing, which often goes up in value once it is out of print!
A selection of out-of-print Tartarus Press titles

In the case of Father Raven, we have decided, reluctantly, not to reprint. However, we’ll leave the option open for the future--every enquiry we receive for a book after it is out of print makes us wonder if we’ve made the right call…

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Sourdough and Other Stories by Angela Slatter

Congratulations to Angela Slatter on her recent success in the Aurealis Awards. In the Best Collection shortlist of five, Angela had two books: Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus) and The Girl With No Hands (Ticonderoga). The judges gave the prize to The Girl With No Hands, but in their report said of Sourdough by Angela Slatter:
"Sourdough is probably the most exquisitely produced and packaged collection of the year. The artifact produced is a credit to Tartarus Press and the quality of the inter-linked fairy-tale-esque stories is a credit to Slatter’s prowess as a short story writer." 

Sourdough was Angela's first collection (by a matter of days!), and we first came across her work when she submitted her story "Sistser Sister" to Strange Tales III. This was also shortlisted in the Aurealis Awards, and lost out to -- Angela Slatter (with Lisa Hannett, for "The February Dragon"). 

Angela was recently a featured author in Black Static. Peter Tennant wrote:"With their larger than life characters and the beautiful, evocative writing, the intricate plotting that continually reinvents itself and twists back on what has gone before, these are wonderful stories from a writer who appeals to both the emotions and the intellect. Sourdough and Other Stories was one of the best books I read in 2010, and it’s work from a writer whose career is just beginning. . . . Tartarus have done Slatter proud with a truly sumptuous volume. Sourdough is a beautiful book, one that gets its collector’s edition status and price tag on merit and not simply by virtue of being signed by whomever or number whatever of a limited edition."
The constituent parts of Sourdough and Other Stories, before assembly.
Because there is something rather magical about Angela's work, we wanted to create a magical book. We had already worked with the artist Stephen Clark, and asked him to illustrate the title story for the jacket. When it arrived we knew that it also had to be added as a full-colour frontispiece to do the picture justice. Then we realised the possibility of using the design for the boards... Stephen simplified his design, and then we broke it up into three separate images to create three brasses, each of which stamped the design with a different coloured metal foil:

The three images.

The book was printed and bound by Biddles in Norfolk, who consistently do a great job for us. 

Sourdough has been a great success, and in years to come, when Angela is an established writer the book will probably be horribly collectable. But no matter what fun we had in creating the book, it is essentially down to the writing, as the following reviews attest:

"Slatter displays a rare gift for evocative and poetic prose." - Publishers Weekly
 "The sixteen stories contained within this collection attests to both Slatter’s storytelling and her consistency in creating entertaining tales with deep, almost primeval, resonances." - Simon Marshall-Jones, Beyond Fiction
 "Slatter’s fairy tales have a ravishing quality which leaves the reader totally spellbound by their elegance and imaginative power." Mario Guslandi, Bookgeeks"This book is a fantastic achievement on every level." Alan Baxter, The Word
 "Slatter’s writing is exquisite and very vivid, she really is a master storyteller. " - Scott Wilson, The Fringe
 "I would recommend this book to anyone who likes dark fiction, fairytales, strange tales, elegant horror, or anyone who likes stories with strong women protagonists and good characterization." - She Never Slept

The Tardebigge Myth

The only known photograph of Robert Aickman and Tom Rolt together ( Yorkshire Post , 31st August 1948) Robert Aickman’s primary ambition w...