July 14, 2014

Independent Irish publishing house de Selby Press launches in Paris


Stephen Crowe's illustration of "A Painful Case" for the de Selby Press edition of Dubliners.

Stephen Crowe’s illustration to accompany “A Painful Case” for the de Selby Press edition of Dubliners.

Two booksellers at Shakespeare & Company in Paris have announced the launch of de Selby Press, an independent publishing venture that is currently fundraising to publish its first project. The founders of the press are Linda Fallon, the head book buyer at Shakespeare & Company, and Terry Craven, another veteran bookseller at the legendary Paris bookshop who has a special interest in antiquarian books.

Their goal is to raise ten thousand euros to make a print run of an illustrated edition of Dubliners by James Joyce. The book will be printed by a fine French printer and will feature a new introduction by Paul Murray, author of Skippy Dies and An Evening of Long Goodbyes. The beautiful high contrast drawings that will accompany the text are by Stephen Crowe, who is also working on a project to illustrate every page of Finnegan’s Wake.

Those who contribute to the campaign will receive a range of rewards, including a copy of the ebook, the physical book, launch poster, a recording of classic Irish ballad “The Lass of Aughrim” sung by Lisa Hannigan, and prints of Crowe’s illustrations. Bookshops can pre-order four copies for a special price.

De Selby Press is named after Flann O’Brien’s character in The Third Policeman, the mysterious and unorthodox scientist /philosopher who the book’s unnamed narrator studies with zeal. In particular, the press’s founders  highlight this line from the book: “Perhaps it is important in the story I am going to tell to remember that it was for de Selby I committed my first serious sin. It was for him that I committed my greatest sin.”

Fallon is originally from Ireland and Craven hails from Yorkshire. As the pair explains in their fundraising video, their current hometown of Paris has had a long history of being the stomping ground of Irish writers from Oscar Wilde to Samuel Beckett to James Joyce. There’s more information about their inspiration on the de Selby Press website:

We are a small Irish press based in Paris. We make tea to pass the time and sing snatches of old songs to pass the meantime. There has long been a tradition of Irish writers fleeing the Emerald Isle for the City of Light, forsaking the potato for the pain au chocolat, and we want to continue that tradition, publishing Irish writers, publishing French writers translated into Irish, publishing any impractical incarnation of Franco-Hibernian wordiness that appeals to us. We’ll sin if we have to. That’s how committed we are.

Indeed, they’re so committed, that they’re going back to the rare original editions of Joyce’s work to study the layout, paper, and typography of the books to inform the design of de Selby’s edition of Dubliners. If the bookselling experience and expertise of de Selby Press’s publishers is any indication, their new Parisian Irish publishing house will be a great success.

Stephen Crowe's illustrated interpretation of "Eveline" from Dubliners will be part of de Selby Press's first publication.

Stephen Crowe’s illustrated interpretation of “Eveline” from Dubliners will be part of de Selby Press’s first publication.




Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.