Six winners prepare to step inside Faber in exclusive Museums at Night escapade

By Culture24 Staff | 12 May 2010
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A photo of a woman sitting in a chair reading a book

(Above) Competition winner Helen Fox reads up ahead of her exclusive trip to Faber and Faber this Friday

When six lucky winners step into the mysterious central London headquarters of publishing oracle Faber and Faber this Friday, they'll be fulfilling every book fan's dream.

In a literary version of peering inside Willy Wonka's factory, the gang will get the chance to journey through more than a century of tradition at the UK's most revered independent publisher, dusting off the cobwebs of unseen treasures from a cast encompassing everyone from John Betjeman to HG Wells, Samuel Beckett and William Golding.

They were chosen at random after entering the competition on Culture24, organised as part of this weekend's Museums at Night 2010.

For Simon Quicke, a business journalist who has spent four years running the excellent literary blog Inside Books, the prospect is tangibly stirring.

"What I'm really looking forward to is the sensory overload of the whole thing, that smell of old books," he says, when asked to pick the aspect he's expecting to enjoy the most.

"Anything to do with books gets the old radar going. It's a unique opportunity, really. You think about it, and people like TS Eliot were part of it.

"I guess I'm not sure what they'll have. I imagine there'll be some first editions, and an awful lot of other books. It's going behind a world – what I really want to do is share that experience."

A photo of a hand holding a book called the bell jar by sylvia plath

Literary greats are dotted throughout the archive

Quicke set up Inside Words to interact with the world – sometimes he gets snobs picking on his reviews ("which can be a bit of a slap"), but the lively response his thoughtful, prolific pieces usually receive has earned the site a burgeoning reputation, strengthened by the emergence of Twitter.

"The beauty of the web is that you can talk about what you're passionate about, but there is a dark side to it," he reflects, predicting the reaction his critics will give to his win.

"I should imagine I will get friendly jealousy, but I'm going there with an attitude of seeing and sharing. When I saw it I just thought, 'this will be absolutely brilliant.' Hopefully it will be something I can talk about for years and years to come."

Visit Inside Books for more.

The lucky winners in full:
Simon Quicke London
Anna Tuckett Shawford
Claire King Cheltenham
Helen Cox Colchester
Josie Kehoe Chelmsford
Victoria Linde London

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