20 January 2020
A companion volume to Kingdoms of Elfin, Of Cats and Elfins gathers together the remaining four Elfin stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner, with the remarkable forgotten tales of The Cat’s Cradle Book (1940), eighty years after its first publication. This is a new selection of Warner’s remaining fantasy short stories, collected for a new generation of fantasy enthusiasts and Warner fans.
With a cover endorsement by Neil Gaiman: ‘Sylvia Townsend Warner was one of our finest writers. I’m thrilled that Handheld Press are bringing some of her uncollected fantasy stories back into print to delight and amaze a new generation.’
If you have preordered a Kindle copy already, this may have been rudely cancelled (we’re sorry about that: it was an unforeseen part of a necessary distribution process) but we have been assured that your order will be automatically reinstated. Our apologies for this awkward disconnect. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are any problems.
You can order the paperback edition direct from us now (it comes with an exclusive bookmark) by adding it to your cart below.
UK: £12.99 (includes p&p)
Rest of the World: £12.99 plus £6.00 p&p per book
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The twenty-three stories in Of Cats and Elfins encompass scholarship (Warner’s ground-breaking 1927 essay ‘The Kingdoms of Elfin’, on modern Elfinology), black humour, the Gothic, and the bizarrely anthropomorphic cats of The Cat’s Cradle Book, which reflect Warner’s preoccupation with the dark forces at large in Europe in the 1940s.
The Cat’s Cradle Book opens with a long autobiographical fantasy about talking cats in a manor based on Warner’s own Norfolk home with Valentine Ackland. ‘The Castle of Carabas’ continues the story begun in ‘Dick Whittington’. ‘The Magpie Charity’ is a political fable satirising institutional charity, ‘The Phoenix’ relates an unfortunate combustion in the bird collection of Lord Strawberry, and ‘Bluebeard’s Daughter’ narrates the adventures of Bluebeard’s daughter by his third wife, and her propensity for locked doors. Warner mixes fables and myths with storytelling traditions old and new to express her unease with modern society, and its cruelties and injustices.
The Guardian liked it very much: ‘Each tale is a beautifully realised imaginative world, resonant with folklore and a rich appreciation of nature.’
We’ll be launching this marvellous collection on 23rd January at The Second Shelf: tickets are available here.
Watch our video, in which we explain how we chose the stories for this collection, and why they’re probably not for children.
Watch Greer Gilman, who wrote the Introduction, read an extract from ‘The Duke of Orkney’s Leonardo’.
Download and read our Warner biography
Greer Gilman wrote the Introduction. She is the author of Moonwise and Cloud & Ashes, and two critically-acclaimed novellas about the poet Ben Jonson, as well as poetry and criticism. Her fantasy fiction, rooted in British myth and ritual, has won the Tiptree, World Fantasy, and Shirley Jackson Awards. She wrote the Foreword for the Handheld Press edition of Kingdoms of Elfin.