The 4th Estate Archive: Our 21st Birthday Magazine

We’ve been clearing out our offices and archiving the most interesting of items  in preparation for our move to London Bridge in January. Over the next month or so we’ll be sharing anything of GREAT interest that we find with you. To start with, we flick through a satisfyingly large magazine we published to celebrate our 21st…

Back in 2005, the word ‘kindle’ was principally a verb, the word ‘Amazon’ was generally synonymous with a rainforest, and Hilary Mantel’s mantelpiece was conspicuously lacking in Booker Prizes. Here at 4th Estate, we were busy publishing future classics like Mantel’s Beyond Black, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Tash Aw’s The Harmony Silk Factory and Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries. We were also celebrating our 21st birthday as a publishing house; and as part of the festivities we created this beautiful, glossy, A3 magazine:


The inside cover features a rather lovely floral-feather design, and the contents page boasts a formidable line-up:


Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is one of the most recognisable 4th Estate authors, but in 2005 he was principally kn0wn for his moving autobiography, Toast. The Kitchen Diaries, published that year, cemented his reputation as one of the most prominent British food writers. This extract offers advice on killing and preparing lobsters, but suggests that Nigel is reluctant to do the killing himself – he admits that ‘the nearest I get to killing anything is pouring salt on the slugs’. 2005 was the year of a general election, so it’s telling that Nigel compares the ‘cold eyes and unsmiling lips’ of a monkfish to former Conservative Party politician Ann Widdecombe.

Ian Sansom

Going by the photograph that accompanies his article, Ian Sansom has none of Nigel Slater’s qualms about killing his food before he eats it. Or perhaps that turkey is the victim of a crime from one of his novels? We published a wonderful new story from Ian this year – The Norfolk Mystery, the first chronicle of the detecting adventures of Stephen Sefton and Professor Swanton Morley, which harks back to the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. In 2005, Ian was writing another ‘cosy’ crime series – The Mobile Library, which is every bit as eccentrically entertaining.

Hugo Hamilton

Another striking image – this time an illustration – adorns this extract of Hugo Hamilton’s The Sailor in the Wardrobe, a memoir of the summer the author spent working at a local harbour in Ireland. This February, 4th Estate published Every Single Minutea novel that proves Hugo’s writing is as sharp now as it was a decade ago.

Frank McCourt

The final page of the magazine is another recipe, but this time the author is not a cookery writer. It”s a guide on how to make a ‘McCourt’, a cocktail dedicated to the late Frank McCourt, writer of Angela’s Ashes. Perhaps Frank should have written a book on cocktails for us – this drink was ‘created in The Savoy’s American Bar by head bartender Salim Khoury, to celebrate Frank McCourt’s stay as writer-in-residence during Spring ’05.’ I’m not sure if The Savoy still entertains ‘writers-in-residence’, but if it does, that’s more than enough motivation to pick up a pen. And while we’re celebrating, I think I might shake up some Blackbush, drambuie and Southern Comfort with fresh lime juice and gomme syrup, and toast to another 30 years of 4th Estate.

Words by Tom KillingbeckTo find out more about our books, events and competitions, click here to sign up to our newsletter.

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