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At Twenty-Five: An Open Letter

Robert Shehu-Ansell reflects upon 25 years of making magical books
 – 9th August, 2017

Twenty-five years ago, FULGUR was born.

In the weeks leading to this day, I have been looking back. Not as you might expect, to our many books and launches. Nor to our special projects; the exhibitions, conferences and journals that have marked the years. And while I have thought about the many wonderful people we have worked with since 1992 – the artists, writers and editors by whose alchemy magic is conjured – today they are not uppermost in my mind.

Publishing is no easy endeavour. With good reason it is considered a high-risk business, for each new title is a roll of the dice. Small publishers in particular seem vulnerable, the reward slight. And the work is often demanding, involving long hours and a particular kind of devotion; to a page, a person, or an idea. And for me at least, when asked, ‘why publish that book’, I often have no answer other than a feeling. That perhaps it felt right; either in time, or subject. If pressed further, I will say simply that the work spoke to me.

When I published my first Austin Osman Spare title in 1988 there was no party, no cheers. But gradually, your letters began to arrive. Most did not simply express a wish to buy, but carried also a shared joy. I still have them. I kept them because they are pure magic. Years later, the first FULGUR title prompted a similar response. And yes, I still have those letters from you too. I recall hearing in 1993 that a group had formed in California to work the sex-magic rite detailed in The Witches’ Sabbath, our first book. This confirmation was profound for me; that for some of you the work had to be lived. There is no greater magic.

Magic exists on the boundaries. And occasionally I have sought to challenge the boundaries of the occult. Books of magic that (seen askance) could pass for books of art. And magical-art books that made no apology for being scholarly in approach. I have generally avoided what I term a ‘pre-Enlightenment aesthetic’ because I believe that magic exists today as a vital modern force. This approach remains progressive. And in some projects, the magic has been almost a whisper. But you have supported it all. Despite the endless delays, the cost of postage and the challenges I face running a small business. And I am grateful.

Over time, your strength has grown. Some of you I have known for nearly 30 years, while others are new friends, but each of you has played a part in our success, our impact. This day belongs to you.

Thank you for all your support.

We have some incredible projects ahead for our twenty-fifth year, both books and events. Our celebrations begin in New York, where we will attend the Occult Humanities Conference at NYU Steinhardt on the weekend of October 13-15th. Rather poetically, our first book was published on this date and we will mark it with a launch party for A Book of Staves by the inimitable Jesse Bransford. We would love to see you there.

And finally, that FULGUR lapel pin… we shall be giving these away with all orders dispatched from today. A modest token of our sincere thanks.

Robert Ansell
Managing Director