Editorial Papers from Accession 2

Scope and Content

There are two series of 'book files' included in this accession of the archive. Each book file relates to the process of editing, proofing and printing a specific Carcanet volume. In total 92 books are represented, reflecting the range of the Carcanet list: new poetry; work by more established writers; the work of neglected poets of the past (published in the Fyfield series); poetry anthologies; collections of essays or works of criticism; and poetry in translation. Typically each book file contains one or more of the following types of record:

  • The author's, editor's or translator's original manuscript - usually a ribbon, carbon or photocopy typescript, sometimes emended by the author. Where Michael Schmidt undertook editing of the text, his annotations are also evident. During this period when most books were being typeset in-house, manuscripts are only marked-up with minimal printing instructions.
  • Additional manuscript material which was not ultimately selected for inclusion in a published volume. This might be early drafts of poems or earlier versions of a collection (in the case of Paul Mills and Peter Jay for example); some authors also submitted numerous poems to Schimdt over time, from which he selected poems to make up a collection (Jean Earle provides an example during this period).
  • Proofs of a volume which have been corrected and sometimes revised by its author or editor. Proofs varied in format depending on whether or not they were typeset in-house. Carcanet-produced proofs 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. External typesetters produced proofs in varying formats, including the traditional two-stage system of galley proofs followed by page proofs.
  • Collated proofs (in various formats), which are marked by the copy-editor, incorporating the author's corrections as well as adding further corrections of his or her own.
  • Camera-ready copy, the final stage of proofing before publication. Where camera-ready copy is included in this accession, there is usually a related book file in the first accession containing the manuscript and earlier proofs of the book in question.
  • Related papers such as correspondence with the author and cuttings.

While some volumes are more fully represented than others, many of the book files document the whole pre-history of a published text, including the authorial and editorial emendations which shaped the finished product. While the book files are divided into two sequences, reflecting their arrangement at the Carcanet office, there are a number of overlaps between them: the manuscript of a particular book may appear in one sequence and one or more stages of proofs in another. There are also overlaps between some of the files in the first sequence here and the book files which came in the first accession of the archive and are listed in CPA/1/1/1 (usually the late stage of proofing is represented in this accession). Full cross references are supplied wherever editorial papers relating to the same volume are split between sequences. In addition, the writer's correspondence files listed in CPA/2/2-3, and in some cases CPA/1/2, often contain references to the publication process and may shed useful light on the editorial papers included here. In a few cases, authors' correspondence files actually contain manuscripts of their published work; where this occurs full cross references are supplied.

The editorial papers also include a series of files relating to the production of PN Review, which contain a similar range of material including manuscripts, proofs and associated papers. There is also a small number of rejected or unpublished manuscripts which were submitted during this period.

Administrative / Biographical History

The editorial papers in this accession of the archive predominantly date from the period 1977-1981, by which time Carcanet had developed a well-established and respected list. The publication process remained similar to the earlier period, although there were some changes in Carcanet's editorial staff. Generally the process ran along the following lines: Michael Schmidt would receive manuscript submissions and choose to accept or reject the work; in some cases he would carry out editing of the text, or advise the author on possible revisions. The manuscript would then be prepared for press. Throughout this period, much of the typesetting continued to be done in-house, largely by Schmidt himself. Those manuscripts which were set in-house would not always be formally marked up with printing instructions; many of them were prepared for typesetting by Schmidt, who would simply add a list of additional preliminary pages to be set, and make notes of projected page divisions. Sometimes the book's copy-editor would mark-up the manuscript for typesetting, in which case the instructions were rather more extensive. Prose works during this period were generally sent to Woodspring Press of Bridgwater, Somerset, for typesetting and proof production; these manuscripts were generally marked-up more formally. Once proofs were produced, the author would be sent a set for checking and correcting; the copy-editor and sometimes a proof-reader would each receive a set. The copy-editor was responsible for producing the collated proofs, by examining all the sets of corrected proofs and transferring corrections and revisions to a single set, sometimes also overriding authorial revisions. When Val Warner was copy-editing, she usually followed the convention of marking typesetting errors in red ink, other changes to be made (such as authorial revisions) in blue, and queries or comments in pencil. Other copy-editors did not necessarily distinguish between different types of correction in this way. Val Warner continued as the principal copy-editor until 1977 and also worked on some books which did not appear until 1978. Robert Wells was the principal copy-editor from mid-1977 to mid-1978. Peter Jones appears to have carried out some copy-editing during 1979-1981, and Helen Ramsbotham also did a degree of copy-editing, largely for issues of PN Review. Margaret Hutchinson played a large role in proof-reading and collating, particularly during the later period represented here; while she did not prepare manuscripts for press, she was responsible for producing the collated proofs of many books and her practice differed slightly from the procedures followed by Val Warner and other copy-editors: she would use the author's own marked proofs as the basis of the collated set, and add her own layer of corrections and clarifications to the authorial markings.

Editorial procedures for PN Review were similar to those for books: Warner and Wells both worked as copy-editors for the magazine during their time at Carcanet. Helen Ramsbotham acted as coordinating editor for the magazine during 1979 and 1980. Other individuals involved in proof-reading, copy-editing and otherwise producing the magazine during this period included Claire Harman, Helen Lefroy, Peter Jones and Audrey Verity. Typesetting problems meant that the responsibility of proof production for each issue of the magazine was ultimately divided between Carcanet itself and various external typesetters. More details of the editorial and production processes for PN Review during this period are given in the headnote to the magazine files at CPA/1/2/3.

A number of different printers were employed by Carcanet during this period. These, with rough dates, are as follows: W. and J. Mackay Ltd of Chatham (responsible for the earlier volumes represented here, roughly up to 1977); Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd at Grosvenor Press, Portsmouth (who printed books dating from 1976 in this accession); Unwin Brothers Ltd at the Gresham Press, Old Woking (1977-1978); and Billing and Sons Ltd (subsequently Billings) of Guildford, London and Worcester (1977-1981, predominantly 1979-1981).


The editorial papers in this accession divide naturally into separate series based on book publication ('book files') and magazine publication ('magazine files'). The small number of rejected or unpublished manuscripts also form a series of their own. There are two distinct series of book files: they are both comprised of material from 'Accession 2' of the archive (although the term 'sequence' rather than 'accession' was used by former Library staff); however, on examination it became clear that 'Sequence 2' was in fact made up of two accessions; as with the correspondence, there were two more or less clear series of book files, each broadly covering a different period. This is reflected in the arrangement here. No attempt has been made to reconstruct two series of magazine files because typesetting and production problems meant that the PN Review papers in this accession were extremely disorganized.

Within each series, 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 that in a few cases (books edited by a particularly well-known Carcanet author like C.H. Sisson, for example) were filed under the name of the editor, but arrangement here has been standardized to author's name. The magazine files are arranged chronologically.

Where the information is available from the publication itself or the book file, the archivist has identified the printer of each volume. Copy-editors and proof-readers who worked on each volume are named where this information can be ascertained; often identification is only possible by examining the handwriting which appears on the proofs so some of this information is conjectural. Dates are supplied where they are available in the file or in correspondence with the author; where no dating information can be found, the date given is simply that of publication.

In many cases, the archivist has added running sheet numbers to manuscripts and proofs - where there was no original numbering system, for example, or where there are numerous inserts and additional papers. This is usually explained in the 'arrangement' field at item or piece level. For citation purposes, readers should use the archivist's numbering where there is no original numbering system and original numbering elsewhere.

The editorial papers are divided into four series, as follows: 

  • /1 First sequence of book files
  • /2 Second sequence of book files
  • /3 Magazine files
  • /4 Rejected or unpublished manuscripts