Book Files from Accession 1

Scope and Content

This series is comprised of 'book files' which came to the Library in the first accession of Carcanet papers. They have been given this title as they each relate to the process of editing, proofing and printing a specific Carcanet volume. The files contain material relating to 123 books published by Carcanet Press, dating from some of their earliest publications in 1969 through to 1977, along with one volume from 1978. A broad spectrum of Carcanet writers and publications is represented here: there are files relating to first collections from new poets, books by more established writers, work by those who became mainstays of the Carcanet list, new editions of neglected poets and writers of the past, volumes of essays or critical pieces, and poetry in translation.

Typically each book file contains one or more of the following papers relating to a specific publication: 

  • The author's, editor's or translator's original manuscript, usually in the form of a typescript. These have often been emended by hand by the author, and in some cases Michael Schmidt has also edited the text by hand. They are usually marked up with printing instructions, and sometimes include additional queries and comments originating from the copy-editor.
  • Additional manuscript material which was not ultimately selected for inclusion in a published volume. Some writers - Elizabeth Jennings being a notable example - would submit large quantities of manuscript poems over time, from which Schmidt would select and shape a collection.
  • Proofs of a book which have been corrected and sometimes revised by the author or editor.
  • Collated proofs, which are marked by the copy-editor, incorporating the author's corrections as well as adding their own.
  • Related papers such as correspondence with the author, cuttings and invoices from the printers.

The book files often therefore document the whole pre-history of a published text, including the authorial and editorial emendations which contributed to shaping the book in its published form. In addition, the authors' correspondence files listed in CPA/2/1 often contain material relating to the process of publishing an author's work, so readers are advised to refer to these as well as to the relevant book file. In a few cases authors' correspondence files actually contain manuscripts of their published work; where this is the case, a cross reference has been supplied from the relevant book file to the correspondence file.

There is also a certain overlap between these book files and those that came in the second accession of papers (listed at CPA/1/2/1 and CPA/1/2/2). The chronological divide between the two accessions is not clear cut, and in some cases there are book files in the later accession which relate to the same publication as book files listed here; where this occurs full cross references are supplied.


The book files are arranged in alphabetical order based on the name of the author. In the case of joint authorship, the volume is filed under the name of the first author listed in the volume or bibliographic catalogue description. In the case of Fyfield books, other selections of the work of earlier poets, and translations, the book is filed under the name of the author rather than the editor or translator. Anthologies are listed under the name of the editor. This largely reflects the arrangement of the material in the Carcanet office. There is some evidence, in a few cases, that book files for certain volumes published in the Fyfield series, or edited by a well-known Carcanet author such as C.H. Sisson, were filed under the name of the editor rather than the author, but arrangement here has been standardized to author's name.

Where the information is available from the publication itself, or the book file, the archivist has identified the printer of each volume in the file descriptions below. In the case of dates when manuscripts or proofs were produced, the archivist has used authors' correspondence files to ascertain precise dates where possible. If manuscripts or proofs are undated, this is stated and the date is simply given as the year of publication. Where proofs give the year of publication but other papers indicate that they pre-date this, the correct date has been supplied in square brackets. Copy-editors who worked on each volume are named where this can be ascertained; this is usually only possible by identifying the handwriting which appears on the proofs or by accompanying correspondence and paperwork. Where possible, the archivist has consulted the relevant published volume to verify that manuscripts and proofs are complete, and to establish other details.

In many cases, the archivist has added running sheet numbers to manuscripts and proofs - where numbers were lacking altogether, for instance, or where unnumbered sheets and inserts have led to inconsistency in original numbering systems. This is usually explained in the 'arrangement' field at item or piece level. For citation purposes, readers should use archivist's numbering where there is no original numbering system and original numbering elsewhere.

Appraisal Information

Any unmarked sets of proofs have been disposed of, unless an unmarked set is the only surviving document representing the proof stage of a given publication.

Related Material

There is no book file for Alexandra Seddon's Carcanet pamphlet Sparrows, but the manuscript and paste-up of the collection can be found in Seddon's correspondence file at CPA/2/1/63.