Archive for The Carter Press

Meeting Graham Carter

Posted in Books, Investigations with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2009 by mrtoppit

Graham Carter

Last week I lunched with a legend. Without this man’s guile, temerity and good grace we, the people of the world, would not have had the pleasure of reading Arthur Hayman’s Hayseed Chronicles.

Graham Carter, Arthur’s onetime editor and publisher, now divides his time between his role as a literary agent and family life. During the leisurely lunch Graham, a natural raconteur, regaled me with his recollections of Arthur, Martha (pictured below in the Darkwood), Luke and Rachel as well as his experience of the Hayseed phenomenon in the 1980s.

Martha Hayman

While he turned down Charles Elton’s request for an interview (out of respect for the Hayman family) he is, like myself, curious to see if Penguin’s publication of Mr Toppit will spark a revival of his ‘old books’ as he calls them. As shrewd as ever, he has suggested to his successor at The Carter Press to rush through some re-editions of all five books of The Hayseed Chronicles.

Carter Press Catalogue

After lunch, Graham took me back to his rather palatial office on the Strand to show me some of his own ephemera, which he kindly allowed me to photograph and reproduce here. My particular favourites are these samples of his correspondance. In a letter from Arthur to Graham, Arthur notes his humbling pleasure at receiving finished copies of Garden Grown.

Letter from Arthur Hayman to Graham Carter

Martha’s caustic wit is on full show here, as she argues with the direction the dutch publisher’s design department are taking with their edition.

Letter from Martha Hayman to Graham Carter

His collection also included this wonderful Poloroid of Luke Hayman standing uncomfortably next to the actor Toby Luttrell, on set at the BBC. As a slight aside, I have just read about this very moment in Mr Toppit, and Charles Elton does have a knack for conjuring the excruciating awkwardness this incident produced in Luke.

Luke Hayman and Toby Luttrell

As lunch drifted into late afternoon, and the sun began its decent over the Thames, I thanked Graham for his time and kindness. He had given me so much in those brief hours I was in awe and indebted. As I made my way from his office I left this remarkable man, blue in the lip from wine and wet in the eye from memories of a dear old friend, long gone, but not forgotten.

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Merry Christmas from the Carter Press

Posted in Books with tags , , , , on December 23, 2008 by mrtoppit

Merry Christmas From The Carter Press
For a long time now I have been attempting to secure a meeting with Arthur’s publisher, Graham Carter. Having handed over control of the Carter Press sometime ago, Graham now works as an aloof and occasional agent in the London literary scene.

After a series of frustrating and labyrinthical telephone conversations with secretaries, assistants and answer phones that led only to dial tones, I decided to write to Graham directly. I explained my interest in Arthur, The Hayseed Chronicles and all things Toppit and requested a moment of his time to discuss his memories of those heady Hayseed days. What stories he must have.

I am beset with excitement to report that Graham accepted and we shall meet in the New Year for lunch. He replied with this rather charming Carter Press Christmas card. The mantel is my own.

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The Hayseed Chronicles

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by mrtoppit

It has arrived. After protracted dealings with The Strand’s collectables department in New York, it has finally arrived.

The Hayseed Chronicles Boxset

The extraordinary success of The Hayseed Chronicles in the mid-Eighties was largely down to one woman, Laurie Clow. It is believed that coincidence and chance led her to be by Arthur’s side on that fatal Soho morning and since then she decided to dedicate her life to his books.

On returning to America she achieved fame and national syndication reading the Chronicles on the radio, before crossing over to the big-time with her own chat-show. She singlehandedly brought the books to life for a generation of Americans and with hysteria at fever pitch The Carter Press was quick to cash in on their recently acquired pop culture cachet.

The Hayseed Chronicles Boxset 2
Graham Carter, sensing an opportunity, produced a limited run of this box set to tie in with the programme and marketed during the credits at the show. I have been trying to get my hands on one of these for years.

But there is more. Stuffed in the back of the box was this letter.

Fan Letter

Susie is thanking Jeanie for sending her the entire set. This set, which has found its way from sunny California to London via the 18 miles of books at the Strand in New York. The letter is printed on Hayseed Chronicles notepaper (extensive merchandising was another shrewd idea from Mr Carter).

Fan Letter 2

Bees hold a special significance in the world of the Hayseed Chronicles as both a terrifying sign that Mr Toppit had been there as well as a sign of Luke’s bravery in the face of such terror.

Fan Letter 3

I wonder what Susie and Jeanie are doing now. If you are out there, reading this, let me know!

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