Our Editor-in-Chief, Michael Weinzettl, on the letters of Nancy Mitford, memories of sitting in Walter Lürzer's aeroplane and the treats to be found in the 200 Best Photographers Special.
I was in Vienna last weekend where our annual Ad Sales Conference took place. It was a pleasure to meet our advertising sales reps, among them Kate Brown from London, Claudia Coffmann from New York, Diana Dragomir from Bucharest, Sheila King from Rome and Carina Wicke from Frankfurt all in one place.
I didn't make much more than a brief appearance in my function as Editor-in-Chief and Publisher and had dinner with my dear co-workers. I don't have much of a head for business anyway and like to let people who do get on with it. I'm happy to report that the numbers look good for last year and hopefully will continue to do so this year.
Our representative for the UK, Kate Brown, kindly gave me the delightful book "The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street". It comprises the letters exchanged between one of my favourite writers of humour, the British aristocrat Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) - a kind of Paris Hilton of her generation except of course with wit, brains and noblesse oblige and her employer during the years of WWII and lifelong friend Heywood Hill, co-owner of that legendary bookshop in London's exclusive Mayfair.
I've read just about everything Nancy Mitford ever wrote including the many, many letters between her and Evelyn Waugh which contain this priceless description of a trip to Russia in a small private plane back in the 1960s:
"We shot into the air with the minimum of fuss -- no revving, no voice bossing about safety belts -- no safety belts either. But we never seemed to gain any height at all and it was, 'Oh, do mind that tree,' all the way to Moscow."
People who have ever had the privilege of sitting in the Piper Malibu owned and piloted by Archive's founder Walter Lürzer will be able to relate to this very well.
Image: Featured in 200 Best Photographers Worldwide 2012/2013. Photographer: Joan Garrigosa
Image: Featured in 200 Best Photographers Worldwide 2012/2013. Photographer: Adrian Cook
Image: Nancy Mitford
The reason why I'm mentioning all of this is that while wolfing down The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street on my flight back to Berlin, I came upon a passage in which Nancy Mitford, who after the war had moved to Paris and become a successful novelist ("Love in a Cold Climate", "The Pursuit of Love"), writes about an interview given to a Parisian journalist.
She is asked if she is on top of the UK bestsellers to which she responds: "How little you know my compatriots. At the head of the bestsellers there is always an animal - Elsa the lioness has now been elbowed out by an otter."
She refers to Joy Adamson's 1960 bestseller "Born Free", barely remembered today except for the title song from 1969 movie which from time to time pops up in commercials - most memorably perhaps in this week's Classic Spot of the Week for Land Rover (1999). The competitive otter hails from Gavin Maxwell's "Ring of Bright Water" (1960) about a Londoner and an otter living on the Scottish coast.
This great fondness for the animal world, surely not just a British trait, immediately made me think of the latest volume of our bi-annual 200 Best Photographers which came out last week and of course features a brilliant portrait of a poodle on its cover.
The image was taken from a campaign for a French chain of opticians and shot by the British Tim Flach, arguably one of the best animal photographers in the world. I interviewed him for the volume in which I ask him about anthropomorphism, which has been a sine qua non in advertising ever since its earliest beginnings.
If anthropomorphism were a crime, just about all ad creatives (as well as us publishing their work in the magazine) would be locked behind bars for the rest of their lives. The special issue with the 502 photos by, of course, 200 photographers provides a fantastic range of work from all over the world. Our jury had to work extra hard this time: 860 photographers from 56 countries had submitted a total of 10,229 entries.
But this isn't a book full of 'the usual suspects'. There are discoveries to be made, as 86 of the photographers featured have never before appeared in any of the previous Specials.
The 200 that made it have every right to be proud and you have every right to anticipate this wonderful collection. Rush out at once or log on to our website and get yourself a copy while they last.
View more sample pages from the Special here