A STORY OR A HOMAGE?
Back in the 1970s my father Emilio, an incurable anglophile and dedicated children's writer, founded a new and exciting publishing company in Spain. It was called “Editorial Amigos de Alicia”, given that from a very young age he had greatly admired the works of Lewis Carroll. As an expert translator and specialist in children’s literature, he had translated both “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice through the Looking Glass” into Spanish. But there were more intangible reasons for his admiration for Carroll, as he was himself convinced that the world was a wondrous and miraculous place. Whatever life sent his way, his approach to all things was dreamlike, surreal, amusing. He would often say that the pursuit of anything exciting, like a white rabbit perhaps, might take you to a new and exhilarating realm, and that even upheavals and ill-fated events, like falling through a rabbit-hole, could well be an awakening into the land of your dreams.
Emilio had been a highly accomplished artist as a youngster, winning national competitions from his tiny town in Northern Spain. Sadly, when the image of a déshabillé woman appeared on the church wall, he was publicly blamed and shamed since he was the only known artist in the locality. Who else but him could have drawn that little masterpiece, with intimate minutiae, a desirable pose, a suggestive countenance? His father was none other than the Secretary of the Town Hall (we are talking about the 1930s in Spain), and in a terrible rage, he took away all of Emilio’s drawing implements, crayons and oil paints, easels and canvases, and had everything destroyed forever in a show of public humiliation. My father’s career as an artist regrettably ended there and then. But most probably that tragic episode spelled the end of his trust in others, convincing him that the world of make-believe was the only true world for him. His love of Art was thus replaced by a passion for books and writing that would last a lifetime.
His life, like all other lives, was interspersed with events and circumstances of every kind, some more heartbreaking than others, including a civil war, deaths of close family members (including his wife -my mother- at an early age), injustice, prejudice, and even a fascist dictatorship. The constant in his life was, of course, writing of the most imaginative kind, and that is why children's literature appealed to him above all other genres. And as he had always taken refuge in his inventiveness and his humour, those loyal friends would be with him until the very end. Ultimately, what saved him was his sense of fantasy, that indispensable ingredient for a writer.
Four decades later, and on the 150th anniversary of the first publication of “Alice in Wonderland” in 1865, my father’s publishing company is back with a sting. If the original company was mostly a publishing enterprise for children’s books, today Friends of Alice is set to publish both poetry and fiction along the lines of what Lewis Carroll advocated: intriguing, playful and unique writing.
And because Emilio was both a writer and an artist, all poetry books published by FoA include original artwork.
We hope you enjoy and come to love our books!
Isabel del Rio
co-founder, Friends of Alice Publishing