Editorial Papers from Accession 1

Scope and Content

The book files listed in the first series contain manuscripts, proofs and other papers relating to the majority of the books published by Carcanet Press during this period. In many cases, the whole of the editorial and publication process is documented here. In addition, the second series consists of magazine files which contain the same kind of material relating to the publication of the magazines Carcanet, Poetry Nation and PN Review. The format of the proofs and the extent of the printing instructions marked on manuscripts varied according to the printers Carcanet employed at any one time. Proofs produced in-house (as most of them were from 1975) are instantly recognizable: they are usually in the form of typeset pages of text which have been photocopied onto a series of A4 sheets; two typeset pages usually appear on each sheet. Further details of the book production process are supplied at the relevant level below.

The editorial papers also include a selection of poetry manuscripts which were rejected by Schmidt, as well as some papers relating to the printing of a Carcanet Books publicity catalogue.

Administrative / Biographical History

The editorial papers in the first accession of the Carcanet Press Archive span a period dating from 1969, when the Press was first established in Oxford, through to 1978, by which time Carcanet had a well-established poetry list and was based in central Manchester. The editorial and publication process remained fairly consistent throughout this time, both in the case of Carcanet books and the various magazines which Michael Schmidt was involved in establishing. It generally ran along the following lines. A manuscript was submitted, and was either accepted for publication or rejected by Michael Schmidt. In the case of accepted manuscripts, Schmidt might carry out some editing at this early stage, or return the manuscript to the author for them to make their own revisions based on his advice. Other volumes were accepted outright with no editorial intervention. The manuscript was then prepared for press: in the early days Schmidt appears to have done this himself, but from around 1974 Val Warner was acting as copy-editor for many Carcanet books, and also during the mid-1970s for Poetry Nation and PN Review. She would standardize spellings in accordance with house style and check for any anomalies in comprehension and consistency, sometimes carrying out minor editing of introductions and prose text, and corresponding with authors where necessary. She would mark up the manuscript with printing instructions and generally add foliation. Once the proofs had been produced, the author would be sent a copy for checking and correcting. A set would also go to the copy-editor, and sometimes a proof-reader would receive an additional set; Carole Reeves appears to have carried out some proof-reading of Carcanet books published during this period. The author and (where applicable) the proof-reader would return their corrected sets to the copy-editor who would compile the collated set of proofs, transferring to this set the authorial corrections (occasionally overriding the authors' revisions), as well as corrections identified by the copy-editor and proof-reader. Val Warner usually followed the copy-editing convention of marking typesetting or printing errors in red ink, other changes to be made (such as authorial revisions) in blue ink, and adding queries in pencil. Books which were not copy-edited by Warner during this period do not usually follow this convention. The collated proofs were used as printer's copy for the final version of the text. Until 1975, typesetting appears to have been done either by the printers being used by Carcanet at any one time or by independent typesetters to whom the material was sent. Proofs (in varying formats) were produced by the printers. At the time of Carcanet's move to central Manchester, however, Michael Schmidt acquired an IBM electronic composer which meant that books were subsequently typeset in-house by Carcanet staff and only the final stage of book production was carried out by the printers.

Five main printing houses were involved in producing Carcanet books during this period. These, with rough dates, were as follows: Parchment (Oxford) Ltd (who printed Carcanet books during 1970-1971); Compton Press, Salisbury (1971-1972); W. and J. Mackay Ltd of Chatham (1972-1974); Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd at the Grosvenor Press, Portsmouth (1975-1976); and Unwin Brothers at the Gresham Press, Old Woking, Surrey (1976-1977).


The material in this sub-subgroup naturally divides into two main series based on book publications and magazine publications; the rejected manuscripts form an additional series of their own; and one further item is included in a miscellaneous series. Former references supplied in the list are to the outline box lists compiled by former Library staff, where the term 'sequence' was used instead of 'accession'.

The sub-subgroup is divided into four series as follows:

  • /1 Book Files
  • /2 Magazine Files
  • /3 Rejected Manuscripts
  • /4 Miscellaneous Editorial Papers