Quentin Blake to illustrate Folio Society edition of Riddley Walker

Quentin Blake to illustrate Folio Society edition of Riddley Walker

The Folio Society has published 1,000 limited editions of Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban with illustrations by Sir Quentin Blake and a postscript from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Each copy will be signed and numbered by the artist and costs £295.00, available today (18th April).

The new edition also includes 'Acknowledgements’, ‘Afterword’, ‘Notes’ and ‘Glossary’ by Hoban. As well as 39 illustrations, Blake has contributed a new essay, ‘Draw is a interesting word’ with the title taken from Russell Hoban’s “fractured, phonetic ‘Riddleyspeak’” dedication to him in a 1980 Jonathan Cape edition (a division of PRH). Williams has written a specially-commissioned postscript ‘Myth and “knowledging” in Riddley Walker’.

Illustration by Quentin Blake from The Folio Society edition of Riddley Walker © Quentin Blake 2017

Blake was approached to create illustrations after previously collaborating with the author. He said: “In some ways I am reluctant to talk about the illustrations; their effect on the spectator, however arrived at, is their success or failure. But the process is of great interest to me, and not least here, where the invitation was to create images which on the one hand were my drawings and on the other would be near Riddley’s primitive text.”

Williams said: “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.”

Illustration by Quentin Blake from The Folio Society edition of Riddley Walker © Quentin Blake 2017

A Folio Society spokesperson said: "As it approaches its fortieth anniversary, Riddley Walker is as fresh and challenging as ever – a book that feels as though it was written both in the distant past and also far in the future, that remains timely and timeless. A free-wheeling road-novel it is set in post-apocalyptic Kent, 2,500 years after a nuclear catastrophe has plunged England back into a second Iron Age. The survivors huddle in fenced settlements, packs of killer dogs roam the countryside and the rudimentary government communicates its policies through travelling puppet shows. This is a world where the ruins of Canterbury Cathedral are misinterpreted as the remains of a power station, and a post-nuclear mutant incarnation of the Archbishop might just know the secret of nuclear fission. Perhaps the most distinctive and rewarding feature of this book is ‘Riddleyspeak’; a fractured phonetic version of English where words have been worn down and broken apart to develop multiple meanings. This edition includes Russell Hoban’s ‘A Short Guide to Riddleyspeak’.”

Illustration by Quentin Blake from The Folio Society edition of Riddley Walker © Quentin Blake 2017

As well as each copy being signed and numbered by Blake on a tipped-in limitation page with a printed letterpress on Hahnemüle Bugra Bütten laid paper. The books contain 288 pages set in Poliphilus and Blado type, with hand-drawn titling and will be printed in full colour on Woodstock Betulla paper, with 39 illustrations by Quentin Blake. The 14” by 10” editions will be bound in full cloth, printed with a design Blake. He has also designed the cloth-covered slipcase.

The Folio Society Limited Edition of Mort become the fastest selling title in Folio history, selling out in 13 hours, in May last year . The edition of the Terry Pratchett novel was limited to 500 copies.