Magazine Files from Accession 1

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 CPA/1/1/2
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      11 items; 25 pieces; 2,986 sheets

Scope and Content

This series contains material relating to all three of the magazines under Michael Schmidt's editorship outlined above: a late issue of Carcanet, all six issues of Poetry Nation and the first four issues of PN Review. The files are similar in nature to the book files, and contain a mixture of original manuscript material submitted by contributors, proofs which have been corrected or revised by contributors and sometimes returned with notes or letters, and in some cases also collated or final proofs. The texts and the writers represented reflect many of the trends which have come to characterise PN Review, such as the publication of work by new and established poets and critics, poetry and essays in translation, and re-assessments of neglected writers. The manuscripts and proofs are important in that they often represent early or first publication of poems which only subsequently appeared in volume form.

Administrative / Biographical History

Carcanet Press had its origins in the undergraduate magazine, Carcanet, which was edited by Michael Schmidt while he was a student at Wadham College, Oxford, and which ran to six issues. After the Press itself had been running for some years and moved north to Manchester, Michael Schmidt joined with C.B. Cox to edit Poetry Nation, initially published from the English Department at the University of Manchester. This was a twice-yearly hardback anthology of poetry and criticism, which aimed to provide a space for the work of new poets to be seen and subjected to criticism and assessment. After a few issues, this journal moved with Michael Schmidt to the Corn Exchange in central Manchester, where Carcanet Press was based; it ran to six issues in total. In 1976 it was replaced by a new magazine, PN Review, which took the form of a review rather than an anthology and was issued quarterly. This publication was wider in scope than its predecessor, focusing not just on contemporary literature itself, but also considering issues of history, religion and politics, and therefore reflecting the wider society in which literature is created. It contained a mixture of new poetry in English and translation, essays, review articles, interviews and book reviews. Donald Davie and C.H. Sisson joined the editorial board of the new magazine, and after the second issue C.B. Cox's involvement ceased. Despite its association with Carcanet, the magazine remained independent of the Press, and it continued as a quarterly until 1979, when publication became bi-monthly.

Carcanet magazine was probably printed by Parchment (Oxford) Ltd, who printed Carcanet books during the early period. W. and J. Mackay were responsible for printing the first five issues of Poetry Nation, while issue six was printed by Unwin Brothers. Copies of PN Review do not provide details of the printer. Michael Schmidt and Val Warner appear to have been the two principal copy-editors of Poetry Nation and PN Review, Warner having joined the team by 1974.


The original order of the magazine files was somewhat chaotic: while in many cases the manuscript and collated proofs of a single issue were kept together, often the contributors' proofs had been mixed up, with some pieces extracted and moved to the relevant author's book files (something which occasionally also occurs with manuscripts); a number of the contributors' proofs do not survive in the archive at all. Now original manuscripts and proofs have been reconstructed as far as possible, and the files are arranged in chronological order. Where material has been moved from book files a note is made at the relevant level. The catalogue descriptions list the contributors to each issue and the nature of their contribution, but individual poem and essay titles are not supplied. For these, readers should refer to the relevant issue of the magazine itself, or to the PN Review tenth year index (1982), which lists all the contributions to Poetry Nation and PN Review during this period. The conventions for numbering each issue set out in the Tenth year index have been followed here: issues of Poetry Nation are indicated by Roman numerals and PN Review by Arabic numerals.