Magazine Files from Accession 2

Scope and Content

The magazine files in the second accession of the archive relate entirely to PN Review; they include final proofs of some early issues, the early stages of which are represented by papers in the first accession of the archive. They also include material (such as manuscripts, covering letters, contributors' proofs and collated proofs) for most issues of the magazine published during 1977 and early 1981, although from 1979 onwards survival is rather sporadic due to the way the magazine was put together using a number of different typesetters for each issue; the format of proofs also varies accordingly. However, the material included reflects the range of PN Review contents - including poems by new and established poets, critical essays and reviews, and poetry and essays in translation. As well as representing the first or early publication of some poems before they were collected into volume form, a number of the files also contain additional manuscript poems which were submitted but which were not ultimately published in the magazine. The files also cover a period when there were a number of special issues of the magazine. PN Review 13 was the first issue of the magazine devoted to one special theme; edited by David Martin, it was entitled Crisis for Cranmer and King James, and contained essays, poems, testimonials and petitions about the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible, which it was felt were being abandoned without any recognition of their cultural value; the issue contained contributions from a wide range of individuals, including Iris Murdoch, John Betjeman and Philip Larkin. Several supplements were also produced to mark the birthdays of specific writers, containing selections of writing by the individual concerned as well as contributions and tributes from other writers: Charles Tomlinson's 50th birthday supplement appeared in issue 6; Edgell Rickword's 80th birthday was marked in issue 9; and issue 14 contained a supplement marking David Wright's 60th birthday. This period also saw the introduction of the News and Notes section of the magazine, on which Schmidt took advice from David Arkell. It was also a time of editorial tension between Schmidt and the other two editors of the magazine, Donald Davie in particular, and this provoked debate in the magazine itself.

Administrative / Biographical History

PN Review was founded in 1976 as a quarterly publication, but from issue 13 (1979) onwards, it appeared on a bi-monthly basis. Michael Schmidt continued as General Editor, with C.H. Sisson and Donald Davie as the other two members of the editorial board; this three-way structure sometimes gave rise to tension over editorial policy and direction, but provoked some interesting debates in the magazine itself. Most of the day to day decisions were made by Schmidt, who was also involved in the actual production of the magazine to a greater or lesser extent throughout the period covered by these files.

Val Warner continued as the principal copy-editor of the magazine until the fifth issue, when Robert Wells took over the role. Wells certainly worked on the magazine until issue eight (1978), after which editorial and proof-reading roles are not so obvious from evidence in the editorial papers. Helen Ramsbotham worked as an editor on the magazine during 1979 and in correspondence of 1980 was being referred to as the Coordinating Editor for the magazine. Schmidt, however, had to let Ramsbotham go at that time due to problems with finding typesetters, so he began to take on more copy-editing responsibilities himself. Other individuals who were involved to a greater or lesser extent in copy-editing and proof-reading the magazine at the end of the 1970s and in 1980 include: Claire Harman; Helen Lefroy; Peter Jones; and Audrey Verity. Until issue 7, in 1978, most of the proofs for the magazine were produced in-house at Carcanet. From this time on, some of the copy for issues of PN Review was sent out to independent typesetters. Woodspring Press of Bridgwater, Somerset, produced proofs for issue 8, while printing was done by Unwin Brothers at the Gresham Press. After this, Schmidt tried to move away from his reliance on Woodspring, and correspondence files suggest that by early 1980, copy for part of each issue was being divided between Woodspring, Input Typesetting of London SW19, and two local firms, with Schmidt himself setting about 10% of each issue himself; Carcanet were also undertaking the make-up of pages in their office at this time.


The PN Review material was stored in a relatively orderly fashion up to issue 11 (1979), with manuscripts, authorial proofs and collated proofs stored together in obvious sets. From issue 11, when typesetting began to be distributed among different firms and especially after the coordinating editor role was lost, the papers become chaotic. Material was not stored separately in files, and papers relating to the same issue were scattered throughout different bundles. The archivist has tried to reconstruct obvious complete sets of proofs and manuscripts where they survive. The material is stored in chronological order by issue number. Lists of contributors to each issue have been given at item level only where survival is fairly complete for an issue, and where the surviving papers include authorial manuscripts or proofs. Where survival is sparse, contributors are only identified at the relevant piece level if any section of authorial material survives. For full details of contributions, readers should refer to the relevant issue of the magazine or to the PN Review tenth year index (1982).