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Faber announces Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs 

We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs by Costa Award winner Christopher Reid, who wrote the collection in response to an invitation from the Estate of T. S. Eliot.

The idea for a collection of poetry about dogs came to Eliot himself, when in conversation with his driver, who gave him the highly promising phrase ‘consequential dogs’. Eliot, however, never found time to write it. The new collection from Reid – like Eliot, a former editor at Faber & Faber – offers a canine rejoinder to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and introduces characters such as Dobson the Dog Detective, Flo the Philosophical Foxhound, and Frazzlesprat, a dog who would really rather be a cat.

Leah Thaxton, Children’s Publisher, acquired world rights from Peter Straus at RCW.

“Has there been a more significant publishing moment in the history of Faber Children’s? Eliot’s cats are adored the world over, in all their formats, from picture books to collector’s editions. So it is incredibly exciting to be publishing such a stunning companion volume to sit alongside Old Possum’s. Christopher Reid is a poet I have long admired, and felt the natural choice for this new commission. The fact that he too is a former poetry editor brings a neat symmetry to the whole. We are thrilled and so very proud to be publishing such an exceptionally fine collection, and with the blessing of Clare Reihill and the Eliot Estate. This is a significant moment for Faber, and for the Children’s list.”

Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs will be released in hardback in September, with illustrations by Elliot Elam.

T. S. Eliot’s original Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was published in 1939 and has delighted poetry and cat lovers around the world. Those poems were inspired by his four-year-old godson, who invented the words ‘pollicle’ for dogs and ‘jellicle’ for cats. There have been numerous editions of Old Possum’s, which formed the basis of the musical Cats. Eliot’s wife Valerie remembered his intention to write the companion poetry himself. ‘The chauffeur explained that his own dog was just lovable, not pedigreed. “He’s not what you’d call a consequential dog,” the chauffeur said. “Tom just loved that phrase,” Mrs Eliot recalled. “And he immediately got the idea to write a book on ‘consequential dogs’, as a companion to the cat book . . . Alas, he never got to it.”’

Publication of Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs looks forward to the eightieth anniversary of the publication of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and the ninetieth anniversary of Faber & Faber, both in 2019.

Christopher Reid is the author of many books of poems, including A Scattering (winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award 2009), The Song of LunchNonsense and The Curiosities. For his first collection of poems for children, All Sorts, he received the Signal Award 2000. From 1991 to 1999 he was Poetry Editor at Faber & Faber, where T. S. Eliot was a director and publisher for forty years. His Letters of Ted Hughes appeared in 2007.

Elliot Elam is a self-trained illustrator living in Walthamstow. Over the years he has illustrated for all sorts of publications, including the BBC, Channel 4, The Big Issue, the Guardian, Penguin Books and Victoria University Press. Elliot has also built theatre sets and painted scenery and carnival floats at Disneyland.