This winter we have been celebrating our literary associations, first with a rather magnificent party at the very tail end of October to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the revival of Everyman’s Library. Originally founded by renowned Victorian autodidact Joseph Dent in 1906 with the publication of an initial fifty titles, we have been awarding the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction with Everyman, in honour of the late, great P.G. Wodehouse, since 2000. When the time came to celebrate their (admittedly second time around) quarter century, appropriate Bollinger libations were to be provided to the loquacious crowd of luminaries.
Spencer House, conceived in 1756 as a pioneer example of neo-classical architecture, and the Palladian residence of the Earls Spencer until 1926, was the setting for the celebrations. We were honoured to be joined on the evening, at the invitation of Everyman’s Library Publisher David Campbell, by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who made time to discuss the finer bubbles of life with Champagne Bollinger Commercial Director , who had travelled to London especially. Assembled eminences included joint winner of the 2016 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize Hannah Rothschild, broadcaster James Naughtie, author and comedienne Helen Lederer, authors Edward St Aubyn and Sebastian Faulks, literary agent Ed Victor, heading a guest list as long as a very long, illustrious arm. We congratulate Everyman’s Library and look forward to their half (twenty first) century!
Further diving between pages – albeit through the bottom of a glass – was required in November when ‘writer & professional drinker’ Henry Jeffreys, launched his first book; Empire of Booze. As Britain played a determined role in the creation of many of the world’s favourite tipples, it seemed only fit that a company like Mentzendorff, which likely played a not insignificant role in the provision of these beverages, support this endeavour. Champagne (Ayala), sherry (La Gitana) and Port (Taylor’s), all drinks which are inextricably linked to Great Britain, were served to toast the occasion of the launch of Henry’s fascinating and oft humorous tome. One factoid may explain the British association with Sherry; Sir Francis Drake stole more than a million litres of the stuff in a raid on Cadiz. Only one way to remove the evidence, start slurping…!