A new magazines exhibition at Edinburgh Central Library was an ideal opportunity to introduce our next project
The library’s excellent collection of post-1960s magazines was the theme of a short talk by Scott Hames. Around 30 magazine fans — and magazine editors — braved the summer showers and received a free print copy of FLYTE.
Audience questions centred on changing media/political contexts in Scotland, and the attraction of long-form print journalism for younger writers today. Very many thanks to Iain Duffus of ECL for the invitation, and to everyone who signed up for this enjoyable session.
Our next project: magazine memories
Exploring the legacy of these magazines, and what younger generations can learn from them, is a key focus of our next SMN project.
To anyone likely to be reading the SMN blog:
We’d love your help with a new magazine project we’re developing now, intended to creatively capture your magazine memories.
Archived magazines only tell us so much – we also need to hear the stories and impressions of people connected to them.
So if you were involved with a Scottish magazine published in the 1970s-90s – whether as a reader, subscriber, contributor, artist, or editor – we’d love to hear from you.
Guided by the input and ideas of magazine veterans, we’d like to produce a scrapbook magazine that documents some of your memories, highlights and reflections.
Rachael Alexander and Charlotte Lauder on the blind-spots and possibilities of researching feminist print
Interest in feminist magazines is on the rise. From projects grounded in academia, like the British Library’s digitised archive of Spare Rib magazine, to representations in popular culture, like Ms. magazine in the TV series Mrs. America (2020), feminist magazines have arguably never been more visible. Yet in our research, we have been struck by the lack of sustained attention to Scottish feminist magazines and periodicals. Aside from some valuable mentions, in particular from Esther Breitenbach and Sarah Brown, they seem to have been largely overlooked. In this blog post, we look to question some of the reasons for this seeming absence of interest.
In our earlier blog, we looked at Scottish Women’s Liberation Journal and Msprint and the 1970s–80s, and here we’ll think a little more about Harpies & Quines and the 1990s. Harpies & Quines was established in 1992 and, while short-lived, it is a fascinating title. We’ll consider why Harpies & Quines – like other Scottish feminist magazines – has been overlooked, and what it can contribute our understandings of the Scottish publishing landscape and feminist publishing more broadly.
Perhaps we should begin with an acknowledgement that some (or, more accurately, many) magazines will most likely always be overlooked. Scholars working in the broad field of periodical studies frequently confront the fact that issues, titles, and whole genres must be left out – given the vast quantity of magazine material and the sheer scale of the archive. For example, in his introduction to the Routledge Companion to the British and North American Literary Magazine (2022), Tim Lanzendörfer includes a final section titled ‘The essays not in this volume’ as a way ‘to briefly acknowledge […] this Companion’s limitations’ (5). Maybe, like the magazines Lanzendörfer lists, Scottish feminist magazines have simply been left on the side-line. But this seems surprising, particularly when we consider the aforementioned attention being dedicated to feminist magazines from elsewhere, like Spare Rib and Ms.
Of course, Spare Rib and Ms. were bigger publications in almost every respect. Being aimed at British and American women, respectively, they addressed a far larger readership than Harpies & Quines, for example. Harpies & Quines also had far less funding; it was started in 1992 with subscriptions, donations, a small Community Enterprise Strathclyde grant, and £3,000 from Lesley Riddoch’s mother, Helen Riddoch. Ms., on the other hand, had $20,000 of seed money from Katherine Graham of the Washington Post and by 1972 Warner Communications invested $1 million into the magazine.Spare Rib started with £2,500, a fact noted in their 20th anniversary issue, published in July 1992. (£2,500 in 1972 would be worth roughly ten times that sum today.) In that same issue, the collective commented that ‘To launch a magazine like Spare Rib from scratch in 1992 would cost at least £500,000.’ These disparities in financing have a clear impact on the materiality of the magazines; the size, the number of features and articles, and the paper quality, which have perhaps made them more attractive objects of study and attention. Ms. and Spare Rib also had significantly longer lives than Harpies & Quines, a fact not unconnected from their greater financing. Spare Rib ran from 1972 to 1993 and Ms. from 1971 with an incarnation still in print today, while Harpies lasted only two years. But we only need to look at the significant academic attention dedicated to modernist little magazines of the 1920s – characterised by tiny circulations and brief publication periods – to see that circulation and longevity do not directly correlate with levels of interest.
Scottish feminist magazines are by no means the only overlooked English language feminist magazines of the 1960s to 1990s that are gradually gaining attention. In her recent book on the Canadian Branching Out (1973-1980) – Feminist Acts: Branching Out Magazine and the Making of Canadian Feminism (2019) – Tessa Jordan notes that the magazine had ‘completely fallen out of the historical record’ (xxix). Indeed, many of Jordan’s comments on the aims and objectives of Branching Out bear resemblance to those of Harpies & Quines. Jordan notes the collective’s commitment ‘to producing a national magazine that challenged not only the male-dominated mainstream press but also American cultural imperialism’ (xx). Harpies & Quines did not, it likely goes without saying, seek to challenge American cultural imperialism. But the collective did position themselves against the macho Scottish media scene and the London-centric publishing sphere.
The methods used by the Harpies collective, however, diverged somewhat from Branching Out. It set itself against the daily and weekly Scottish newspapers in its emphasis on women’s writing, like all feminist magazines, but also frequently lampooned (mostly) male journalists in regular features like ‘Wanker of the Month’. It also positioned itself against conventional women’s magazines in tongue-in-cheek features like ‘How to Read Cosmopolitan and Still be a Feminist’ (December 1993/January 1994, 26). And it emphasised throughout a particularly Scottish focus, combining its feminism with constructions of Scottish identity. And again against south-of-the-border publications like Spare Rib, by arguing they were of minimal relevance ‘for anyone living north of the Watford gap’. These characteristics and how Harpies & Quines, and Scottish feminist magazines more broadly, carved out a space in the publishing landscape are a particularly aspect of interest for us in our research. Indeed, we argue that this is one of the reasons why growing attention to them is long overdue and one of many ways in which they have much to tell us about Scottish periodical culture.
We want to pause here to consider one additional reason for the relative lack of attention to these magazines: the challenges of conducting research on cultural artefacts and publishing ventures which are well remembered and often held dear by those involved in their creation. This can be a daunting prospect and raises ethical questions and considerations that do not come into the frame when considering, say, a magazine published in the early twentieth century. The magazines we focus on were produced in living memory – like Ms. and Spare Rib. But Scottish feminist magazines have comparatively little in the way of archival records. Therefore, there is a significant reliance on approaches drawn from oral history, meaning researchers rely heavily on producers and readers who are willing to talk to them. As has been well-documented by feminist oral historians, this is not only a practical challenge but a significant responsibility. But the value of these perspectives, the opportunity to speak to those involved in the production of these titles or the readers who engaged with them has been thoroughly demonstrated. Feminist oral history projects like the ground-breaking Sisterhood and After project, led by Margaretta Jolly with the archive held at the British Library, show what can be gained from such work and provide a valuable blueprint for future research.
In our conversations with a few of the women who have contributed to Scottish feminist magazines – like Esther Breitenbach, Lesley Riddoch and Libby Brooks – we’ve seen how much these magazines meant and still mean to the women involved. But we’ve also gained a sense of how little we know about these titles and their origins, and how the material that exists in the pages of the magazines only tells part of what these publications meant for feminism in Scotland in the 1970s to 1990s. In continuing our research, we hope to deepen our understanding of these magazines, the collectives that produced them, and their place in the broader publishing and print culture.
Dr Rachael Alexander is based at the University of Strathclyde and is the author of Imagining Gender, Nation and Consumerism in Magazines of the 1920s (2021). Her research focuses on constructions of gender in twentieth-century periodicals and print cultures, in Scotland, Britain, the US, Canada and Scotland.
Charlotte Lauder is a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde and National Library of Scotland researching Scottish magazine culture from 1870 to 1920. Her work on Scottish women’s magazines has been featured on BBC Radio Scotland.
 Amy Erdman Farrell provides an excellent summary of this in her book Yours in Sisterhood (1990).
 There are many fantastic books on little magazines, such as Mark S. Morrisson’s The Public Face of Modernism (2001) and Eric Boulson’s Little Magazine, World Form (2016), and broader digitisation projects, such as the Modernist Journals Project (modjourn.org).
 We add the caveat of English language here, in keeping with Lanzendörfer’s candour, to acknowledge the limitations of our own research.
Josie Giles on an anarchist newspaper from Orkney, and why it was “not absurd but inevitable”
In the spring of 1979, the Free-Winged Eagle landed on the shelves of Orkney newsagents – or, at least, on three of them. Others refused to stock it. The front cover of the inaugural issue proclaimed that the magazine was for “the only cull worth having – for an autonomous Orkney, based on self-managed collectivism, individual freedom, solidarity and fun!”
The magazine, Orkney’s premier and only anarchist periodical, was published by Stuart Christie’s Cienfuegos Press, a publisher and distributor based in Sanday. Christie, known for his attempt to assassinate Franco as a teenager, had moved to Orkney following his acquittal of involvement in the Angry Brigade bombings, partly on the advice of a Special Branch officer who advised he was not safe in London. Most of the articles in the paper were written and edited anonymously, though I am informed by local sources that Ross Macgilchrist, lighthousekeeper and anarchist, was author of more than those for which he is named.[*]
The opening issue included a biography of Ricardo Flores Magon, an essay by Esther Breitenbach on the oppression of women by the Calvinist church, a case for organic farming, and a call to hit back against the police as a politicised force against working class organisation, as well as cartoons and reviews. The style mixes punk and academic analysis, political rhetoric and speculative theology, with plenty of humour. The back page of the first edition includes reviews of the Orkney West Mainland Goat Society Journal (“very informative”) and the Kirkwallian (“very progressive by school standards”).
The majority of the pages, though, were dedicated to the anti-nuclear movement in Orkney. In 1976, the South of Scotland Electricity Board sought permission to carry out exploratory drilling of uranium deposits on and around the cliffs of Yesnaby, north of Stromness. With the opening of the Flotta oil terminal in 1977, Orkney was becoming a major energy extraction site for the British economy. The North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board, the Highlands and Islands Development Board and the European Commission all supported the proposal, but it immediately faced mass local opposition.
The Free-Winged Eagle’s protest against the proposed uranium mine is less well-known now than that of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, later Master of the Queen’s Music, whose piano and voice composition the Yellow Cake Revue debuted at the 1980 St Magnus Festival, including the now much-played interlude Farewell to Stromness. The anti-nuclear movement prompted an extraordinary alliance between local radicals, prominent artists (including George Mackay Brown, whose 1972 Greenvoe was a similarly anguished cry in the face of the oil industry), farmers, teachers and councillors – a cohesive political alliance rarely if ever seen in Orkney since.
The Free-Winged Eagle sought to seize the anti-nuclear moment to radicalise local activists and propagandise for wider anarchist causes. Later issues covered Indigenous resistance to American nuclear testing and the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, likely to receive significant local sympathy and understanding. An advert for An Phoblacht / Republican News (“Orkney movement? For news of the IRISH MOVEMENT, subscribe to…”) alongside a translated article from Combat Breton pushed the island envelope a little further, but editorials against the Orkney seal cull were met with local fury. As for an advert for books published by Paladin Press including Home Workshop Guns for Defense and Resistance and CIA Methods for Explosives Preparation, printed under the headline “NO URANIUM” and with a cartoon of a Viking thinking “I don’t know much about dynamite, but I’d use it”? – well, I can only speculate how many orders were placed. In the end, faced with near-unanimous and highly vocal and mobilised local opposition, the mining plans folded without the need for force, to the relief of many and, perhaps, the disappointment of a few.
Another aim of the magazine, allied with the mission of the press, was to link the wider Scottish and international radical scenes with political movements in Orkney, bridging urban/rural divides as it hoped to build local alliances. The magazine carried adverts for Black Flag (also co-founded by Christie) and the Scottish Women’s Liberation Journal, alongside reprints from various anarchist periodicals. Its vast ambitions are best indicated by a final advert: “Orkney publishing group urgently requires about 18,000 people to fill a variety of posts. […] No qualifications required. No payment will be available but job satisfaction guaranteed.” 18,000 was the entire population of Orkney at the time.
To the relief of a few and the disappointment of many, the magazine closed in the January 1981 edition, priced at 20p. I believe this was the fifth, though a complete run is hard to track down: the National Library of Scotland has only three, and the eccentric numbering obscures the British Library holdings. “Just think – in 20 years time copies of our issue number one might be considered a rare piece of Orkney ephemera, changing hands at prices up to £30!” The author’s foresight is close to perfect: this is the price I paid for copies of three issues in 2020. Two can be viewed for free at the Internet Archive, courtesy of Glasgow’s Spirit of Revolt, a vast and essential repository of Scottish radical culture.
That sincere irony is key to understanding the magazine. The Free-Winged Eagle is never unaware of the absurdity and grandiosity of its position, or its mixed reception in Orkney. The magazine is aware, too, of how people outwith Orkney would perceive an anarchist newspaper published in a rural island community. Its short run, however, is a document of a particular political moment in which the Free-Winged Eagle was not absurd but inevitable: a necessary outcome of a popular, multi-faction alliance against internationally-supported, ecologically-ruinous extractive industry. Orkney was and is a centre of energy production, a keystone in the UK’s energy economy, and contemporary conflicts with the Crown Estate over seabed rights for fishing and marine energy carry echoes of the Yesnaby campaign. The Free-Winged Eagle was shorter-lived than many periodicals produced in Edinburgh’s or Glasgow’s radical scenes, but longer-lived than many others, and the movement it sprang from is strong in local memory.
When the magazine was published, the white-tailed eagle from which it took its name, and which is seen breaking its chains with its beak in the magazine’s logo, was extinct in Scotland. The first successful reintroduction was in Rum in 1975, and the first successful breeding in Mull in 1985. In 2018, for the first time in 145 years, white-tailed eagle chicks hatched in Orkney, in the hills of Hoy.
Josie Giles is a writer and performer from Orkney, and her most recent book is Deep Wheel Orcadia: A Novel.
[*]CORRECTION: The first three issues of the Free-Winged Eagle were not distributed or published by Cienfuegos Press, but rather simply used Over-the-Water as a correspondence address for practical reasons. The paper was originally published and edited independently by Ross Macgilchrist, before being passed to Stuart Christie and Colin Badminton, who ran it for two further issues before closing. Many thanks to Ross Macgilchrist for this correction.
Rory Scothorne explores a path-breaking radical magazine of the 1970s, a Highland ‘vehicle for a revolutionary Scottish Gramscianism’
“Vietnam: Victory to the NLF”, proclaimed the second issue of Calgacus magazine, published in Summer 1975 shortly after the Viet Cong’s capture of Saigon. Page 48 was surprisingly low billing, however, for the long-awaited conclusion of the Vietnamese liberation struggle that had animated and helped to transform radical politics across the western world. Calgacus reflected that transformation, albeit in a uniquely Scottish form.
The magazine’s editor, helming a rather prestigious editorial committee, was the 29-year-old teacher and journalist Ray Burnett, who produced the three issues of Calgacus – two in 1975, one in early 1976 – from his home in Wester Ross before the magazine fizzled out of existence. Burnett had spent the late 1960s on a Forrest Gump-like tour of radical flashpoints. Not only had been on the frontline of the famous anti-Vietnam War demonstration in London in March 1968, when 246 protesters were arrested amidst clashes with police, he was also present at the Battle of the Bogside in Derry the following year, when fighting between unionist marchers and predominantly Catholic locals led to days of police violence followed by British Army intervention.
These were battles between great powers and plucky underdogs, and Calgacus sought to articulate a distinctive Scottish radicalism within that global tradition of resistance. It was named after the first-century Caledonian chieftain who challenged Roman invasion, to whom Tacitus attributed the famous anti-imperialist speech that was quoted in each issue of the magazine:
We, the last men on earth, the last of the free, have been shielded till today by the very remoteness and seclusion for which we are famed. We have enjoyed the impressiveness of the unknown. But today our boundary is exposed; beyond us lies no nation, nothing but waves and rocks and the Romans. Brigands of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder, and now they ransack the sea. They are unique in being as violently tempted to attack the poor as the wealth. Robbery, butcher, rapine, the liars call Empire; they create a desolation and call it peace.
Such overtly left-nationalist symbolism was intended as a provocation, reflecting Burnett’s growing frustration with what he saw as the British left’s neglect of Scottish questions. Until the early 1970s, Burnett had been an active member of the International Socialists, a precursor of the Socialist Workers’ Party. British Trotskyism was highly London-centric, and while the SNP’s rise since the late 1960s had not been lost on Trotskyist intellectuals, their responses had largely dismissed the idea that this reflected a distinctive Scottish polity worth engaging with more positively.
Burnett disagreed. “The present crisis of capitalism,” he wrote in Calgacus’ first editorial, “is neither a particularly Scottish problem nor even particularly British: it is an economic trough of global dimensions.” However, “when such a universal phenomena is related to a specific reality then that juncture is in our case an economic, political and social prism both definable and recognisable as Scotland.” The magazine’s identity was thus not just self-consciously Scottish but defiantly so: “Calgacus is guilty of that most heinous sin in the catalogues of the British Left – we admit that Scotland exists.”
Burnett had laid out this position in more detail three years earlier, in an essay for Scottish International titled ‘Scotland and Antonio Gramsci’. Alongside a panoramic critique of what he saw as the prevailing left-wing approaches to the national question in Scotland, Burnett offered his own pioneering analysis, drawing on Gramsci’s distinction between “political” and “civil” society (and later quoted prominently in Tom Nairn’s 1977 Break-up of Britain): “While we have a homogenous British state,” he argued, “the organisations and institutions in civil society which comprise its bulwarks and defences have an azoic complexity, the most significant feature of which for us is that civil society in Scotland is fundamentally different from that in England.” Thus Scottish culture and its distinctive institutions mattered profoundly to socialists seeking to counter bourgeois ideology: “Much of our shared ‘British’ ideology as it manifests itself in Scotland, draws its vigour and strength from a specifically Scottish heritage of myths, prejudices and illusions.”
Alongside this need for a more thorough socialist critique of Scottish identity, Burnett also emphasised the importance of defending its liberating and collectivist features. “The left must uphold and expound the merits of past achievements and the richness of our inheritance,” he wrote: “we must cherish the diverse contributions of the flowering Makar and the rantin’ ploughboy, the radical weaver, the passionate Gael, and the rovin’ tinker. If we do not, then what price ‘the revolution’?”
This position also reflected the influence of the folklorist, poet and Communist fellow-traveller Hamish Henderson, whose 1940s translations of Gramsci’s prison letters were first published in the New Edinburgh Review between 1973 and 1974. Henderson was central to Calgacus’ conceptualisation, though ultimately not formative. In an interview, Burnett told me that Henderson suggested the name Mac-Talla (after a successful Gaelic periodical based in Nova Scotia between 1892 and 1904), which Burnett rejected due to the limited Gaelic audience. Henderson also proposed Christopher Grieve (aka Hugh MacDiarmid) for the editorial board, but Burnett rejected this, too – MacDiarmid had alienated much of the Scottish new left with his support for the Soviet repression of Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1968 respectively. Calgacus was thus intended as a vehicle for a revolutionary Scottish Gramscianism, staking a socialist claim on Scotland’s “national-popular” that placed the rights – and radicalism – of minority identities at its heart.
For this reason as well as its location, Calgacus stood out amongst the largely Edinburgh-centric national periodicals of the 1970s due to its focus on the Highlands and Islands. Burnett had previously written for the West Highland Free Press based at Kyleakin on Skye, which had been established in 1972 by a group of Dundee University students, and the newspaper’s publishing arm also produced Calgacus. This ensured a distinctive interpenetration of regional and national questions, and issue 2 foregrounded the Gaelic slogan Tir is Teanga (“land and language”) on its front cover.
This was accompanied by articles about the land reformer and newspaper editor John Murdoch and excerpts from his work; maps of land ownership on the Argyll Islands; an essay by the Gaelic scholar John MacInnes on Sorley Maclean’s Hallaig, and an essay by the German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger on “A Theory of Tourism”. Other issues also paid close attention to the region: Issue 1 featured an essay from Sorley Maclean on Gaelic poetry as well as detailed coverage of the North Sea Oil industry and its workforce, while Issue 3 included an article by James Hunter on nineteenth century land struggles and an essay on the land question by the SNP activist Frank Thompson.
While there was a clear rural and ethnic minoritarianism to much of this coverage, Calgacus also reflected the politics of a largely Anglophone, urban and university-educated intelligentsia that was looking to Scottish nationalism as a source of authenticity and self-legitimation. On the opposite page from “Victory to the Viet Cong” was an enthusiastic review of the Red Paper on Scotland, a major mid-70s statement of self-confidence from Scotland’s up-and-coming left intelligentsia edited by Gordon Brown in Edinburgh. The vague, radical-reformist and cerebral constitutional politics of the Red Paper – clearly pro-devolution, but also toying with independence in some places – jarred with another item on the same page: a folksy, populist protest lyric in favour of Scottish independence and opposed to the European Economic Community. Burnett’s own position, however, was closer to the politics of Tom Nairn and Scottish International’s editor Bob Tait, who pioneered the ‘Independence in Europe’ argument in the 1970s that would eventually be adopted by the once-Eurosceptic SNP. Calgacus’ nationalism was aware of its own potential pitfalls, pitching a cosmopolitan, outward-facing vision of cultural and political revival against the insular, homogenising state-nationalism of the UK.
Calgacus’s distinctive vision of cosmopolitan nationalism conceived of European minority-nationalism as a general rather than uniquely Scottish phenomenon, and a fundamental rather than marginal question for socialists. The composition of the (advisory) editorial board was itself a statement of intent, with a geographical spread significant enough to ensure that it never actually met. Alongside Burnett and Hamish Henderson were Tom Nairn and the Red Clydeside veteran Harry McShane; these Scots were augmented by Ned Thomas from Wales and Brian Trench from Ireland, key figures in Planet and Hibernia respectively – both vital, ground-breaking magazines in their own nations. They were joined by the Mersey-born Irish Catholic John McGrath, the author of The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil, on which Burnett had worked as a researcher.
The magazine’s content expanded this cosmopolitanism beyond Britain and Ireland, countering the left’s sceptical vision of a corporate, capitalist Europe with a distinctive vision of “Europe’s forgotten minorities”. This was focused not just on “the Europe of the Celtic periphery” but also “the Europe of Occitania, Galicia, Friesland, the Basques, Catalonia, Corsica, and a myriad of linguistic minorities,” reproducing translations of left-wing minority-nationalist literature from across the continent. This was justified by a particularly cultural – we might even say ethnic – idea of socialism, focused on “the salvation of humanity, the celebration of man’s achievement’s, not the annihilation of his rich diversity [italics added]”. Calgacus’s socialist, cosmopolitan nationalism can thus be understood as an attempt to redeem the idea of Europe, as a “carrying stream” of myriad precious and intertwined traditions, from the homogenising pressures of capitalist modernisation. This could be stretched to especially controversial lengths: in its third and final issue, Calgacus published Tom Nairn’s essay – later updated for The Break-up of Britain – arguing that the Irish question could be resolved by an independent Ulster.
By 1976, financial problems at the West Highland Free Press exacerbated tensions between Burnett and the WHFP’s fiercely anti-nationalist editor Brian Wilson, leading to the magazine’s demise. Calgacus was unable to find an alternative to WHFP’s already fragile access to both production and Scotland’s fraught apparatus of print-media distribution, and bad-tempered disputes on the letters pages of other magazines ensued. A fourth issue had been promised on “the place of women in Scottish society”, and its absence only amplifies the silence of women in the pages of Scottish political and cultural magazines during this period. Calgacus’ business manager Catherine MacFarlane, who married Burnett in 1967, was the sole woman involved in the magazine’s production.
Reflecting on a decade of the “revolutionary left in Scotland” in 1978, the Trotskyist intellectual Neil Williamson – who died tragically young in a car accident that year – remembered Calgacus as “almost an object lesson in irrelevance.” Any clear political impact is undoubtedly hard to find in the subsequent decades: the devolutionary form of Scottish nationalism which prevailed was far more reformist and institutionalised, deploying the majoritarian ethnic symbolism of twentieth-century Clydeside far more than the Celticist minoritarianism of Tir is Teanga. Yet class was also a vital part of Calgacus’ politics, reflecting the “land and labour” combination advocated by the Irish revolutionary James Connolly – a profound influence on Burnett, who grew up in the same Edinburgh Cowgate community as Connolly had.
While Calgacus tended to overstate – as many have – the revolutionary potential of ‘Red Clydeside’, many of Burnett’s political instincts have been vindicated, albeit without much political success to show for it. SNP activists like Frank Thompson and Rob Gibson were welcome in Calgacus’ pages, despite widespread left scepticism towards the party at the time, and this openness became common sense with the rise of the ‘79 Group. The magazine’s effort to generate a radical, multinational vision of Europe, resistant to the homogenising pressures of the EEC, is now sorely lacking from Scottish politics after Brexit.
Most importantly, Calgacus’ explicit effort to generate a “Scottish left” out of the implicitly British or de-nationalised “left in Scotland” (which was Williamson’s formulation) outlined a collective project that would animate the Scottish intelligentsia for the subsequent two decades. Just six years after Calgacus finished, the editorial collective of the left-nationalist magazine Crann-Tàra would repeat Burnett’s decision to dismiss a Gaelic title in favour of a more popular one, renaming themselves Radical Scotland to attract a broader, less fundamentalist audience.
Though it was short-lived, Calgacus was an inventive attempt to reformulate Scottish radicalism for a political world that had been transformed by the rise of the SNP. The magazine’s chosen priorities and themes can be traced through political projects from Jim Sillars’ “breakaway” Scottish Labour Party (of which Burnett was a member) to the Scottish Socialist Party, the Radical Independence Campaign and the Scottish Greens, as well as media outlets like Bella Caledonia.
Rory Scothorne is a writer and historian who recently completed a PhD on ‘The Radical Left and the Scottish Nation Print-Cultures of Left-Wing Nationalism, 1967-1983’. He writes on Scottish and British politics for the New Statesman.
Magazines are for making enemies as well as friends. Richie McCaffery revisits the pugnacious Sidewalk via the furious pencil-marks of one of its targets.
One of the most important Scottish literary magazines of the 1960s was also one of the shortest lived. Sidewalk (which ran for two issues in 1960) was formed when the then editor of Jabberwock (an Edinburgh University student publication) splintered away from what he saw as an increasingly cronyist and reactionary editorial outlook, supporting older Scottish nationalist poets and very little else. In his final ‘American’ issue of Jabberwock, Alex Neish, now a local historian and pewter-ware expert, printed the opening chapter of William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch much to the excitement of his readers, but to the consternation of the press and Burroughs himself, who had no knowledge that Allen Ginsberg had submitted it for publication.
With Sidewalk Neish was free to pursue his own vision, one that was transatlantic and syncretic, not merely a grandstand for the political bloviations of the older kenspeckle Scottish bards. In his valedictory editorial for Jabberwock in 1959 Neish made his thoughts swingeingly unambiguous, saying that he wished to jettison ‘that inferior romantic drivel of misdirected Nationalism which for too long has been a millstone around the necks of younger Scottish writers’. By the time Sidewalk 1 appeared, Neish’s stance had clearly not in any way mellowed, drawing very firm battle-lines in his editorial, guaranteed to antagonise older Scottish writers: ‘Lallans today […] has an academic insular artificiality which is inherent in the work of those who use it. The more Lallans poetry that appears, the more reasonable becomes the tenet that in the 1960s literary pastiche is being created by poetical eunuchs’ (p. 11). Curiously enough, ‘eunuchs’ was one of the favourite insults MacDiarmid liked to throw at writers he regarded as enemies.
Putting his firebrand rhetoric into action, Neish printed between 500-750 copies of each issue of Sidewalk and the magazine was aimed at an audience most likely to be ‘open-minded’ – university students. The magazine introduced its readers to the likes of Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, Gary Snyder and William Burroughs. This small Scottish periodical was not just tokenistically international, but vitally eclectic, embracing French and British writing, Black Mountain Poetry and Beatnik literature. Let’s just compare the dramatis personae of that line-up with a 1960 copy of Lines Review (a major organ of the Scottish Renaissance). Lines Review 16 has on its cover a reproduction of a woodcut by Moira Crichton depicting Sydney Goodsir Smith, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig all enjoying a guid-willie-waught in The Abbotsford Pub (Rose Street, Edinburgh). The contents are predictable: MacDiarmid, MacCaig, Garioch, Crichton Smith et al. (It’s interesting to note that Lines Review retailed at 1 shilling and sixpence whereas Sidewalk was 2 shillings, at a time when a student grant was perhaps 140 shillings (£7) a week). This is no slight aimed at Lines Review – one of the literary backbones of Scotland for decades – but to show that youth culture and other strands of avant-garde culture needed a room (or magazine) of their own.
Sidewalk might have been a flash-in-the-pan in terms of its lifespan, but it sent intellectual and aesthetic shockwaves through both young and older writers. In 1963, Bill MacArthur, a university student who had acted as an illustrator for Sidewalk, established his own magazine Cleft (which, like Sidewalk, only ran for two issues). Cleft is a seminal small magazine because it not only carried on Sidewalk’s transatlantic and European scope but also introduced concrete poetry and was more tolerant of the veterans of the Scottish Renaissance, like Hugh MacDiarmid and Robert Garioch, both of whom appeared in its pages. This fracturing of an old vanguard and an emergent youth culture is a crucial turning point in the history of the Scottish Renaissance. Jim Burns, in his 1977 article on Sidewalk points out that Alex Neish’s promotion of American writing was not unique in 1960 in a UK-wide context but that it certainly was significant in breaking up the provincialism or favouritism of the Scottish scene: ‘Neish obviously kept his finger on the contemporary pulse’.
This brings us round to Sydney Goodsir Smith (1915-1975), a New-Zealand born poet who converted to writing poetry in Scots in the late 1930s and remained in Edinburgh until his relatively early death. One of Alex Neish’s particular bêtes noires was what he termed the ‘bombastic lackeys of the Nationalist movement’ and he could well have intended this damning phrase for Goodsir Smith who was a fervent disciple of Hugh MacDiarmid’s Scottish nationalist programme for the arts. In 2004, nearly three decades after the death of her husband Sydney Goodsir Smith, Hazel Williamson died and the contents of the New Town flat they shared were sent to auction, including Goodsir Smith’s extensive library which had remained untouched since his death. This meant that for a few years books heavily annotated by the poet would appear all over Edinburgh, in second-hand bookshops and charity shops. It was in the now defunct ‘Old Town Bookshop’ that I bought for £2 Goodsir Smith’s pungently annotated personal copy of Sidewalk . It’s a fascinating time capsule of the clash of values between younger writers like Alex Neish and older Scots stalwarts like Goodsir Smith.
The first thing to note is that he kept this magazine, so he realised it was of importance even if it was offensive to his own tastes. Many of his pencilled comments in the margins are funny but also slightly reactionary. On the contents page he calculates the nationalities of the contributors – four French, at least one English, seven Americans and seven Scots. Many of the pieces are dismissed as ‘Dada’ or ‘transition Dada’ (proving that there is nothing ‘new under the sun’), Ian Hamilton Finlay’s piece is ‘joky’ and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s is ‘dull, windy, vague’ but crucially Alex Neish is deemed ‘a didactic type’. There is also a pencilled remark guiding us to p. 81 where we can find a ‘comment on the whole thing’: ‘But remember, things have been moving so fast in the States that by and large it’s already dated’. There is also an editorial attack on poets who write in Lallans on page 11: ‘The real point surely is this: that Lallans is neither a national language nor a genuine one’ to which Goodsir Smith’s pencil riposte is: ‘Whereas Ginsberg’s is?’
Many of the pieces have comments showing Goodsir Smith’s frustration and bafflement at what he considers the ‘emperor’s new clothing’ of contemporary writing. His umbrage may have also been directed at the magazine because issue 1 carries a particularly wounding review of Goodsir Smith’s latest poetry collection Figs and Thistles by George Todd: ‘This book is aptly named. But there are damned few figs and too many thistles […] this collection bears all the marks of scraping the barrel’. The coup-de-grâce of the review is this observation: ‘One wonders how seriously Sydney Smith takes it. Does he see himself in there lowsing the bands of an oppressed people? It would be better if he showed us he still has his tongue firmly in his cheek and was not squandering his talents on behalf of the parochial, pettifogging fashions which he can be so skilful at knocking’.
Perhaps as a placatory offering, Sidewalk 2 carried a full-page advertisement for Goodsir Smith’s books still in print and a review, again by George Todd, of his play The Wallace. Not quite as acerbic as his review of Figs and Thistles Todd nonetheless dismisses Smith’s play as two-dimensional and simplistic, essentially a ‘good Western’ where the ‘goody’ and the ‘baddy’ are clearly delineated. Sidewalk in this respect is a symptomatic text of its time, giving a clear indication of the fissiparousness of Scottish letters and culture in the 1960s, where a generation that had previously held sway was being challenged younger aspirants and upstarts. Todd, in his review of The Wallace notes that Scottish nationalists will draw parallels from the play to a contemporary Scotland ‘still beset by internal back-biting and schisms of one kind or another’. Sidewalk gave younger writers a platform and the opportunity to discover writing which wasn’t first and foremost Scottish nationalist or Scottish Renaissance-related, and in this sense it broadened aesthetic horizons. However, by attacking the older nabobs of the Scottish Renaissance, like Goodsir Smith, it could be argued that the magazine was merely adding another level of factionalism to the story. Every literary magazine that has a clear identity and outlook also, no matter how much the editors deny it, has a clique, or rather a circle of writers that it is sympathetically disposed towards. By 1960 it was high time someone stuck their neck out to challenge the dominance of ‘The Poets’ Pub’ generation and through the pioneering efforts of magazines like Sidewalk many now essential younger Scottish writers began to break through in the 1960s and 1970s.
Richie McCaffery is a poet and critic from Northumberland, who completed a PhD on Scottish poetry of World War Two at the University of Glasgow in 2016. He is the editor of Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet: Essays on His Life and Work (Brill, 2020).
Robin Kinross observes the 1970s scene from a friendly distance, with an expert eye on design and typography
I have always lived in the south of England, though grew up in what I felt was a Scottish micro-environment. My parents were both Edinburgh born and bred, both came to London in their twenties for work; they met and married in London. While I have ended up as a typographer, editor and publisher with the imprint Hyphen Press, my route to this destination was unplanned and it needed detours, driven by wide and I suppose ‘generalist’ interests.
In the late 1960s, leaving secondary school with science A levels, with thoughts of becoming a librarian, and interested in literature, cinema, art, politics – the magazines brought Scottish culture and discussion to me. They performed the classical function of helping me to know – or imagine – the community that I might have been living in, but wasn’t living in. How did I discover these magazines? Maybe in bookshops in Edinburgh, or perhaps in the London shops that might have carried them (Better Books? Dillons?). Around 1970, when I was a student of English literature in London, I believe I had a subscription to Scottish International, though have lost all my copies. I remember its well-funded production: A4 format and printed letterpress, with pictures on coated paper and line illustrations on the text paper. (This distant memory is open to correction.) It was in Scottish International that I first read Edwin Morgan. I became one of his constant readers.
Did Scottish International really carry an article on ‘Ibsen and Scotland’? I remember someone joking that this was like the formula of ‘X and the Polish question’, in which X could be anything – a person, a concept, an activity, any material fact. Thus one could generate a discussion almost automatically. If this joke was about Poland and Scotland, then it sounds like the voice of Neal Ascherson, whose house in Bethnal Green, borrowed from the sociologist Michael Young, I used to visit then: the Ascherson family childminder was the girlfriend of my best friend at the Polytechnic where I was a student.
At that time I certainly had a subscription to New Edinburgh Review. I have lost all those copies too. But recently I became interested in it again, looked through the run of the magazine in the British Library, and bought a few copies from second-hand shops. I wanted to rediscover the reviews of Black music – R&B, soul, ska – that were published under the byline of Dr Juke’s Rhythm Review. These were extensive and very knowledgeable discussions of hard-to-obtain records, showing an F.R.Leavis-like attention to detail and severity of judgment, sorting out the good stuff from the bland or meretricious. In his Blue Moment blog, Richard Williams had written about his ‘favourite piece of music writing’ – an article on Prince Buster by Mark Steedman. As Williams wrote, Steedman is now a professor in Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics. I got in touch with Mark Steedman, who confirmed that he was indeed Dr Juke. These reviews of very unScottish culture were for me one of the important elements of the NER.
At this time I was switching from reading literature to doing typography, which in 1971 I went to the University of Reading to learn. My perceptions of the magazines were filtered through a growing typographic consciousness. New Edinburgh Review had a good phase when its design began to be professional (rather than done by enthusiastic student amateurs). I have a copy of no. 16 (1972) that shows this. The cover is printed in two colours, as previously, but now uses a photograph printed not in black but a light brown, with black titling overprinted. ‘Art and layout’ is credited to Jim Downie, with Jack Wyper and Tom Bee. Among the illustrators in this issue was Stewart McKinnon, who would then have been a postgraduate student at the Royal College of Art in London, having gone there from Edinburgh College of Art. (Rick Poyner has retrieved McKinnon’s work in an article on the Design Observer website.)
The pages inside remind me of the early design of London’s Time Out magazine, founded in 1968, and in 1970 changing its format from A5 to A4, under the direction of Pearce Marchbank. For designers, other important magazines of that time were the BBC’s Radio Times (art directed by David Driver) and, from the USA, Rolling Stone and New York, the original city listings publication. All these magazines are cited as influences by Simon Esterson, the London designer who in the 1980s would come up to Edinburgh for brief spells to work first on Edinburgh University Student Publications Board’s Festival Times, which in 1985 gave birth to The List.
I am not sure when I discovered the re-established Edinburgh Review, launched in 1984. I think it would have been stocked by Compendium in Camden Town, near to where I lived at the time. Certainly I took out a subscription in 1988, and have a postcard from Peter Kravitz to prove this – plus all the copies still on my shelves, from no. 67/68 onwards: I must have bought back numbers to complete the series. It may have been in October 1988 that I first met Peter. It was at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where he was in charge of the Polygon stand. I introduced myself and we had the first of many absorbing conversations.
The Edinburgh Review was important for me especially for its recovery of figures such as Stuart Hood, R.D. Laing, Alexander Trocchi. I hadn’t thought of them as Scottish, but now came to understand that they were deeply so. This was an enlargement and enrichment of what Scotland meant, for me and I imagine for many others. These figures had left the country to work elsewhere and were strongly internationalist, but retained the values of their Scottish educations: a serious commitment to thought and art, with a wide range of interests. Further they had a clarity, sharpness, sometimes a violence of thought and expression, that one doesn’t find much in the mild climate of English culture. They exhibit an easy passage from the physical to the metaphysical, which is perhaps one of the traits of the Scottish-educational habit of mind.
The Scottish philosophy material in Edinburgh Review was a great discovery. I remember especially the essays in no. 74 and Richard Gunn’s essay in no. 87. The ideas of ‘common sense’ philosophy helped me in polemics over legibility to put forward an alternative to the deconstruction theory that had been picked up in design circles and which was just then (early 1990s) dominant in US and British avant-garde theorizing.
I had also subscribed to New Left Review from 1970 onwards and so read Tom Nairn’s essays on Britain and Ireland, as they came out. When some of this material was collected in The Break-up of Britain, I remember thinking ‘I have read all this already’ and so didn’t buy the book. But also the idea implied in the book’s title of Scottish or Welsh (or English!) independence seemed to be taking it a bit far. Only much later, in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, did it seem obvious and necessary.
Tom Nairn was a regular contributor to the earlier issues of another London publication that I bought and read in the later 1970s. This was Bananas (1975–1981), the newspaper-format literary magazine edited by Emma Tennant, of Scottish aristocratic family, but brought up in England and living in bohemian West London. Nairn published in Bananas some of the writing that he was working on for The Break-up of Britain. Aside from that material, he contributed a scathing article on ‘The English Literary Intelligentsia’ (Bananas no. 3) – exhibiting a characteristic sharpness of expression in resuming his exposition of how England got to be the way it is, and in this case how it got to be the place that produced Kingsley Amis and Margaret Drabble. One should certainly add him to the list of wanderers who never lost the bearings of their education in Scotland.
As a typographer I should perhaps have been more engaged with concrete poetry than I ever was. This wasn’t the aspect of Edwin Morgan’s writing that I valued most. I have a few issues of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Poor.Old.Tired.Horse (1962–1967). I bought these new, some years after publication; perhaps they were still for sale in Compendium or one of the other London shops.
I saw a few issues of Akros, and I remember buying direct from Duncan Glen at least one publication – I think it was an interview with MacDiarmid, set on an electric typewriter. Glen was a good typographer and the magazine and its associated publications were well done in that respect. Late in his life he published a book, Printing Type Designs: A New History (2001). I have never seen this book, but from accounts of it I gather that the ‘new’ part of the history is the Scottish part. A specialist typographic bookseller in Amsterdam once asked me how to get hold of copies. I think eventually he succeeded and was able to stock it in his shop.
Looking at magazines through a typographic consciousness has a limiting effect. For example, I did occasionally see copies of Cencrastus and Radical Scotland, but found it tough going to actually read much in them, partly because of the amateurish design. That applies even more so to the Red Paper on Scotland, with its very small size of type, set in long lines (about 15 words per line). Neal Ascherson has called it the ‘unread paper’.
There is a technical explanation for what happened in design and production in these years. Through the post-war period and into the 1960s the predominant method of setting and printing text was with metal type and letterpress printing. Production was firmly in the hands of highly trained – and unionised – compositors and printers. But by about 1970 metal and letterpress were being deposed by photocomposition and offset lithographic printing, for reasons of cost of equipment and materials, and ease of operation. Small offset printers did not need much training to operate, and text composition with the IBM Selectric (‘golfball’) typewriters and Letraset (rub-down letters) for headlines needed no obvious skills. For a few years in the mid-1970s, the printing unions resisted this, but quite quickly gave way. In the 1970s and 1980s the pages of the small magazines were mostly pasted up – the raw materials were paper output from typewriters or the small photocomposers that came to the fore then – to make ‘camera-ready copy’ that was photographed to make film, from which printing plates were made. This was how EUSPB operated through the 1970s and most of the 1980s. It employed two compositors with union cards, though paste-up was done by non-professionals. The visible results of all this? Lines of text (especially corrections or additions) stuck down at a slight angle from the rest of the page, letters bumping into each other in headlines, rules drawn with a blotchy pen or an unsteady hand, illustrations made by someone with an idea but nothing much more than that. Towards the end of the 1980s, personal computers and especially Apple Macintoshes with page make-up software became available. At least now the lines of text were always perfectly straight.
At this time my main political commitment was to Charter 88. Every Saturday afternoon I joined a group on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields holding banners demanding a Bill of Rights, proportional voting, reform of the House of Lords, and so on. I always tried to get the one that demanded a Scottish Assembly. In July 1990, at the Charter’s first Constitutional Assembly, Tom Nairn sent a paper that spoke about the Charter movement: ‘the product of a southern (rather than “English” in the misleading territorial sense) political culture. Its radicalism is still permeated by a heartland ethos of confidence and possibility, still animated by high-profile assumptions of political competence. The Scottish movement, in contrast, is emerging from a low-profile, apolitical culture of submissiveness and evasion, and trying to build up an elementary self-confidence where almost nothing existed before.’
Though I certainly knew all about the ‘ethos of confidence’ of the southerners, what I valued in the Scottish movement, as seen in the magazines and more occasionally in real-life encounters with the natives, was the bringing together of culture and politics. One was not hived off from the other: the Scottish literary and visual cultures were playing a political role in affirming the nation. It wasn’t like that in England. Sometimes the Scottish voices were rough and plain, but I had the sense that something could be done through them.
Thanks to Simon Esterson for his memories of the 1980s.
Joy Hendry looks back on the long, storied and combative history of Chapman, ‘Scotland’s Quality Literary Magazine’
The Scottish literary scene in 1970 was a veritable minefield: embattled, embittered by decades, if not centuries of neglect, distortion and misrepresentation and ignorance. Aspiring practitioners or scholars of literature like myself at the time, aged seventeen, could not be blamed for not even being aware of its existence, due to its absence from the curricula in education at every level. In terms of public recognition and funding, it was similarly invisible, deemed unnecessary, or a low priority in bodies like Arts Councils and universities.
Chapman began that year as The Chapman, a tiny, eight-page demi-quarto affair, the central impulse being simply to provide publication for poets (initially) in a scenario where much of quality was being written, for outlets very few. In no time, however, the combativeness of the scene and the struggle for scarce resources led to an editorial desire for controversy and ‘stirring it up’, especially when the founding editors had their application for Scottish Arts Council funding roundly rejected. The rude remarks made about other more fortunate magazines, and ‘established’ literary figures in The Chapman no 6 editorial, still make entertaining reading. (Straight intae the fechtin, almost…)
George Hardie, Hamilton-based poet, was the founder, and he teamed up with local poet Walter Perrie, whom I met in my second term at Edinburgh University, where we were both studying. He looked at my poetry and promised to publish two of my poems in the next issue. Eighteen months later, I found myself joint-editor of a literary magazine, aged only nineteen, though initially editorial policy came primarily from Walter. He wanted to place the magazine in the European and international mainstream, à la Pound, Eliot and Wyndham Lewis, and with a commitment to intellectualism and new ideas. From that lofty perspective, he tended to devalue current writing in Scotland. There was a firm commitment to quality in writing, giving airtime to new voices, including those espousing unfashionable and unpopular ideas, and to ‘speaking out’ about important cultural matters. We both wanted to avoid the destructive in-fighting going on in some of the magazines, and regretted the feuding between dominant personalities of the time. From the first, we sought out areas and authors suffering neglect or marginalisation. It’s hard to believe, now, that Sorley MacLean came into that category, as did Tom Scott and others.
The smaller the duck-pond, the fiercer the fight among the ducks, it seems. From a UK perspective, Scottish literature barely existed, and its individual cultural mores were misunderstood, perhaps wilfully – this despite its astonishing fecundity over centuries. We were young newcomers on the scene, but it became quickly evident that ‘the establishment’ (UK and Scottish) favoured endeavour in English only, and that both Gaelic and Scots suffered as a result. There was a strong and distinct bias against nationalism, which was almost treated with intellectual contempt. (Socialist ideas and postures were more acceptable, especially Internationalist, though Hugh MacDiarmid remained largely beyond the pale in university literature departments into the 1970s.)
As Scots, we’ve always been more than keen on vicious feuding, fechtin, flyting of a terrifyingly ferocious kind, and, the duck pond being a small one, this happened big time. Individuals even of ‘the native species’, once secured in a position of power or influence, had a grim proclivity to use that to marginalise any rivals. As editors of Chapman, we were keen to promote precisely those writers whose work was being marginalised, though the magazine itself suffered as a result, its grant being withdrawn in 1977 on grounds of poor literary quality. When we’d just been publishing Tom Scott, Sorley MacLean (and others more favoured too)? Both Scott and MacLean had powerful enemies, and both had hardly been published or featured on the BBC for years.
By 1975, I had begun to get my bearings in this duckpond, and was exercising more editorial muscle, making the magazine much more centrally Scottish. We published one issue on the wonderful Rainer Maria Rilke, but when I began work on a second, mostly already commissioned, and with a third in view, I stopped dead, thinking: Why are we doing this?– and changed direction, though not entirely abandoning the magazine’s original aims and ideals. I became sole editor and redirected the magazine to prioritising Scotland – not as any backward-looking restoration, but so that the sheer quality and range of Scottish literature in English, Scots and Gaelic achieved better promotion and exposure. Inevitably that involved politics, though with a non-partisan small ‘p’.
A key moment in this process came in 1975, when we visited Sorley MacLean in Braes, on a crazy impulse arising late one evening in Sandy Bell’s, and travelled overnight to Skye, arriving drookitly on his doorstep unannounced – three of us, dishevelled toe-rags, with two dogs – to an immediate welcome. At the time he was writing his long poem, ‘Uamha ’n Oir’, the first two parts of which had already been published in English magazines. Starting off to tout for the third part, I was horrified to find out that Sorley had no expectation that any part of this poem would see publication in Gaelic, given the setup then. I immediately committed to publishing all parts written to that date, three in all, in Gaelic only, which I did (Chapman 15). Earlier that year, because of our collaborations with magazines and writers south of the border, Chapman was able to ensure Sorley’s appearance at the first Cambridge Poetry Festival, where had had made an enormous impact.
The Scottish magazine scene, in parallel, was similarly fractious and war-torn, with some though not all of the main protagonists slugging it out in their pages. Over the course of the twentieth century, some very fine magazines had come and gone: The Voice of Scotland (1938-61), Scottish Art and Letters (1944-50) and others too numerous to list here. In the 1970s, there were nine in hot competition for the limited funding: a long-running magazine in Gaelic (Gairm) since 1952, Lines Reviewalso founded around then, published by Callum Macdonald and edited by a series of hands (1954-98), New Edinburgh Review (various editors, 1969-84), and Akros (Duncan Glen) appeared in 1965, running until 1983. Beginning around the same time as Chapman were Scotia Review (1972-1999, initially Scotia 1970-72), very much nationalist in thrust, edited by David Morrison, Lallans, devoted to Scots language (1973-) and Tocher, from the School of Scottish studies (1971-2009).
We were very much the upstarts, being the youngest editors by quite a long way. There was a Trojan horse at the time, the magazine Scottish International, founded by the Scottish Arts Council itself in 1968, edited for most of its run by Bob Tait, regarded by some as a favoured child of the Scottish establishment and in receipt of as much funding, just about, as the rest of us put together. The scene throbbed with suspicion and distrust. That SI did good and worthwhile work over its duration is beyond doubt, but it was generally felt that its stance was ‘anti-nationalist’ and the sheer disparity in the funding levels seemed deeply unfair. The very good, strongly nationalist magazine Catalyst (1967-74), similar in range of content, had been refused any funding from SAC and it was felt this could only be because of its political stance. Since most of the editors were nationalist, to differing degrees, this left people feeling wary and insecure.
Some of these were in outright war with each other; but almost all felt embattled and suspicious, guarding what little funding they had as best they could. To some extent at least, Walter and I were brought into the fold by SAC Literature Director, Trevor Royle, who became a close friend and, insofar as he could, supporter. Weary of the feuding, Trevor and Walter dreamed up a magazine association (SCAMP – Scottish Association of Magazine Publishers) which brought all the editors together in an attempt to maximise distribution. Before long we became friends and collaborators, organising events, holding regular meetings and employing magazine reps. Sadly, perhaps, the only thing that really worked, distribution-wise, was yours truly trudging round universities, trawling pubs, selling hand to hand. My record in one day was 144, sold at The East Kilbride Mod in 1976. Walter and I tried hard to foster a quasi trade-union mentality amongst editors, with at least some success, and there’s a hangover from that amongst editors working today. An abortive attempt to revive SCAMP was made by Gavin Wallace and myself in the early 2000s, but it didn’t (and couldn’t) work.
In editing Chapman, I didn’t allow feuding or gratuitous nastiness in its pages. While quite prepared to champion one writer to the chagrin, perhaps, of another, I did so for literary reasons and managed, over time, to ensure that both ‘parties’ appeared in its pages. At no time did I allow anybody, or any body, to dictate who or what I should publish, though I was open to ideas from everywhere and learned what I needed to learn from wherever I could.
Thanks to benign and careful manipulation, especially from SAC directors Trevor Royle and Walter Cairns who argued tirelessly for more support for literature, the whole literary scene in Scotland became much more harmonious and well catered-for, with everyone involved – writers, publishers and the rest – feeling that we were working towards common goals to the benefit of Scotland as a whole. Indeed some, myself included, now lament the lack of a good centrally disputatious issue, because things are maybe just a bit too cushy and ‘dumbed down’. I always tried to be even-handed, making literary quality, insofar as my judgement allows, my principle criterion; losing friends from turning down their work and publishing people with whom I was not exactly ‘at one’. I even published work I found personally abhorrent or distasteful in some way, because it had some quality or other I thought important.
From issue to issue, I would look out for some area that needed exploring, or radical change, and often devote an entire issue to discussion of that area of Scottish life; Scots:the Language and Literature (No. 23-4, 1979) looked at the language across the boards and tried to adumbrate what action in each aspect was needed to better its status and condition; Woven by Women (No. 27-8, 1980) was the first ever attempt in Scotland to open Pandora’s Box and look at the contribution of women to culture in the twentieth century. Another important issue was No. 35-6, The State of Scotland: A Predicament for the Scottish Writer? (1983) in which writers aired views about Scottish identity, its pros and cons, from all the political airts and perspectives (that caused a storm). And the Theatre Issue (No. 43-4) provoked a major re-think of the whole theatrical scene, pointing to the absolute necessity of giving more support to ‘the native industry’. The National Theatre we now have grew uninterruptedly, though not without huge difficulty, out of that issue, and both the magazine and I were heavily involved in the process right along the line.
Chapman of course had its critics, and its detractors, some of whom tried to accuse it of unthinking Tartanry, or ‘narrow nationalism’, neither of which charge sticks at all. One of the things I most value in hindsight is serving on the committee, headed by Professor Sir Robert Grieve, which produced A Claim of Right for Scotland (1988), which lead directly to the Scottish Constitutional Convention and the Holyrood Parliament. I find it amusing, and quietly satisfying, to observe writers gradually adopting positions which they had previously criticised the magazine for espousing, for example, realising the potentials of Scots language, which they declared had no future. And many swung away from looking primarily to influences from south of the border or across the Atlantic to realise for themselves the sheer amazing originality, fertility, and creativity that has emerged from Scotland over the centuries. Now, it is no longer deeply un-cool and backward-looking to be Scottish, but something to exploit and enjoy. At no time did I completely ditch the policy to publish international work, but, having realised in those early years just how much had to be done to build a deserving cultural framework here, it simply made no sense to do anything other than consider, as priority, the needs of Scotland and its writers. From about 1995 onwards, as huge progress was made, I felt able increasingly to publish work from all over the world.
And what of being a woman in that very male world (especially up until about 1980)? I think I am the first solo woman editor of a magazine, certainly a literary magazine, in Scotland. It’s been my great fortune to know and work with so many of the mainly male writers of the Scottish Literary Renaissance. I never felt, or was made to feel, in awe of any of them, though one or two gave me rather less regard than I might be due because I am a woman, and at first such a young woman. Without any self-consciousness at all, I approached even Hugh MacDiarmid as someone I could interact with on equal terms. I spent wonderful evenings with Norman MacCaig, Hamish Henderson, Iain Crichton Smith, Tom Scott, Alasdair Gray (who provided our covers for years) and many others; and those I didn’t meet so often were hugely supportive and always happy to write for me: Edwin Morgan, George Mackay Brown and many others. I missed knowing Helen B Cruickshank, which I deeply regret, but became very friendly with Jessie Kesson and Naomi Mitchison, both of whom I published regularly.
I would say that most (not all), like MacCaig, Crichton Smith, Hamish Henderson and others, appreciated me more for doing what I had done, because I was a woman. I used the magazine to encourage and support as many women as I reasonably could. However I am certain that both Chapman and I suffered in being unthinkingly passed over for many benefits and ‘official’ opportunities (in respect of status and reputation) due to two factors, one being my gender, and the other that Chapman operated independently from any officially-recognised institution. Being the particular age I am, I luckily ‘caught’ that older generation in a crucial cross-over period from neglect to recognition, but I notice women even ten years younger have a self-confidence which was systematically knocked out of the age-group I was born into. Looking back, I am narked, feeling I could in fact have done quite a lot more. In 1980, it was still possible for an established Scottish male poet to remark, when I probed him during researches for the Woven by Women issue: ‘Scottish women poets? You mean there are any!’ Nobody could ever say that now.
I think there were in fact advantages in my being female in this very male world, simply because I didn’t have to cope with having a ‘male ego’ myself, and could look dispassionately, sometimes even amusedly, at the trouble caused by the inter-tussling of the men, and see it clearly for what it was. Chapman has never been a vehicle for my ego, but a means to get certain things achieved in Scotland. I’m trying, nearing 70 now, finally to pay some attention to my own ego and personal needs – though finding it more difficult than one might expect to switch focus. But I am gratified that both Chapman as a magazine and I as an individual have played a significant role in the journey towards the devolved, thriving and much more robust Scotland we now enjoy.
Joy Hendry is a poet and editor based in Edinburgh. In 2019 she was honoured by the Saltire Society as one of the ‘Outstanding Women of Scotland’. In 2020 she became the inaugural winner of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Outstanding Contribution to Poetry in Scotland Award.
The public launch of the network was held 12 May 2021, as an audience of 40 scholars, students and former editors gathered (online) to ‘Mind that Magazine’.
We began with two special guests: Peter Kravitz and Glenda Norquay reflecting on the overlapping worlds of Edinburgh Review and Cencrastus in the 1980s.
Both talks were hugely useful in mapping out the various connections — social, practical, institutional — which defined the world of these magazines, and included some wonderful anecdotes and challenging questions.
We didn’t record the wide-ranging discussion that followed, but we’ve picked out a number of themes and highlights (based on the excellent notes of Alice Piotrowska). We’ll be pursuing several of these questions further as we move toward our next event, on possibilities for digitisation, and the edited book project.
Magazines as organisations that work together and form relationships. Talking about his experience in the early years of Radical Scotland, Graeme Purves mentioned the challenges of working as a small, idealistic and determined ‘editorial collective’: a model that is difficult to sustain in the long run. Glenda Norquay agreed, noting parallels with Cencrastus.
Distribution: Glenda Norquay mentioned her interest in the practicalities of magazine distribution. For instance, Edinburgh Review was operating within a fairly professional publishing set-up as part of Polygon/Edinburgh University Student Publications Board, but she also recalls people packing magazines (such as Cencrastus) into cars and driving them around Scotland themselves. Getting magazines into shops was a major challenge, and she is interested to know more about how other people did it.
SCAMP: Joy Hendry (Chapman) agreed that distribution was a major and perennial challenge, partly addressed through the formation of SCAMP (Scottish Association of Magazine Publishers) in 1973, at the urging of Trevor Royle and Walter Perrie. [Modestly funded by the Scottish Arts Council until 1976, SCAMP was a co-operative marketing/distribution scheme and selling agency intended to professionalise Scottish periodical publishing.] The situation did not really improve throughout the 1980s and 90s, and Joy would still be packing copies into her car and selling them directly in pubs, sometimes with the help of volunteers. (See also Joy’s blog on Chapman.)
Digitisation and research: Graeme Hawley (NLS) asked about the research questions people would like digitisation to open up for them. What is not currently possible, as a research question or method, that could be pursued through digitisation? (Technology can do a lot of things, but it’s the research questions that will drive its use.) Scott Hames agreed this is an important discussion to begin, and that it is important to consider the new kinds of research/use digitisation would enable, rather than viewing it simply as a repository.
Glenda Norquay suggested that digitising magazines could help produce a ‘map’ of contributors who overlapped across different magazines – i.e. who was writing for which magazines? Graeme Purves mentioned that he is currently exploring related questions, and that there are a lot of names that crop up across magazines (such as Alastair McIntosh and Rob Gibson in Reforesting Scotland.) Once you start mapping those names, you pick up many connections.
Graeme Macdonald wrote in the chat that ‘digitisation would be great not only for research purposes but especially for research students geographically unable to immediately access Scottish university holdings (which by themselves are still pretty patchy), but also for use in general undergraduate teaching.’
Editorial freedom: Joy Hendry mentioned that being a ‘solo operator,’ while challenging on an administrative and financial level, meant that she could follow her own vision. She felt that she had a lot of editorial freedom to publish what she wanted, and it allowed her to do her ‘job’ as an editor – creating a ‘democratic’ outlet for varied voices but also realising her vision for the magazine, as she ‘knew where she was going’ and what she wanted to achieve. She cited Patricia Oxley of Acumen saying that editing a magazine is like ‘educating yourself in public.’
Allegiance to different magazines: Glenda Norquay said that she was particularly interested in people’s reading habits at the time – for example, did people read all magazines, or did they choose one or two outlets (e.g., would you be an ‘Edinburgh Review person’)? Murdo Macdonald remembers reading everything – although there was an element of competition, it was within ‘an overall sense of cooperation’ among magazine editors, with a lot of cross-interest. Similarly, Ray Burnett (Calgacus) said that he read ‘everything that he could get his hands on,’ including Chapman, Radical Scotland, and Akros.
Women in magazine publishing: Joy Hendry noted that Scottish literature was very much a male world in the 1970s and 80s, and that the inspiration driving Chapman would come from mostly male authors/connections. She mentioned trying to find a bridge between the ‘two worlds’ as a feminist editor working with male writers. (Jenny Turner’s blog is relevant here, and so too Glenda Norquay’s comments during this event – see recording above.)
‘Underlying social fabric’: Rory Scothorne mentioned his interest in the social life/communities that gathered around the literary magazines – were there particular pubs, cafes, or bookshops that were important to the magazine scene? A few mentioned by the participants: Sandy Bell’s, Proctors and various Rose Street bars in Edinburgh, Star Club and the Scotia Bar in Glasgow, St Katherine’s Club in Aberdeen. Graeme Purves noted that the working world of Radical Scotland was very much centred around small pubs. Joy Hendry mentioned that she would distribute Chapman around pubs and universities in Scotland.
We hope to make an ‘audio scrapbook’ podcast from people’s memories of these magazines, so if you have a story or anecdote you’d be willing to share, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a few other ‘Magazine Memory’ blogs appearing over the coming months.
Ahead of our public launch event on 5 May, we’ll be running a number of blogs and podcasts sharing the memories of magazinists. To start us off, Prof Alistair McCleery offers a behind-the-scenes tour of how many Scottish magazines have been funded.
Is this thing on? Will I start?
The Scottish Arts Council, which had been established in 1967, in an early example of devolution from the overarching Arts Council of Great Britain, had a clear mission to promote cultural creation and reception across the nation. When I first became involved with it in 1988, the Literature Department was headed by the erudite and humane Walter Cairns and its Literature Committee was chaired by the energetic and diplomatic Deirdre Keaney. New projects flowed from their passion: the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Canongate Classics series, and the Scottish Poetry Library. Walter and Deirdre were both primarily responsible for the commissioning of the 1989 readership survey that in turn led to a number of key initiatives such as ‘Now Read On’ and ‘Readiscovery’.
I was coming to that. But you need to understand the culture Walter and Deirdre, and later (from 1996) Gavin Wallace and Derry Jeffares, created at the SAC and specifically how decision-making took place. In particular, the committee structure allowed for a great deal of transparency in decisions on the distribution of tax-payers’ money. The decisions were made by committee members who were representative of, and circulated within the wider groups of, writers, editors, and publishers as well as academics like me. Derry Jeffares, who had come to Stirling University from Leeds with enormous, entrepreneurial experience of academic publishing, built on the work of Deirdre when he took over as Chair of the Literature Committee, and further encouraged the development of writers and readers, both directly and indirectly through the support of book and magazine publishers. Derry acted as a mentor to me at this time, as he did for so many others; he constantly reminded me of my roots in the ‘Black North’ [of Ireland] as he persisted in calling it from his sophisticated TCD upbringing – even when I was enjoying his hospitality at Fife Ness, a long way from Derry and Dublin for both of us. Anyway, I also served on two sub-committees of the Literature Committee, the Mixed Arts and the Magazines, where it was a very positive experience to work alongside the likes of James Robertson.
Can you tell me more about the Magazines sub-committee?
We were all committed to the importance of small literary magazines. We valued them highly as an outlet for new writers, not only in terms of seeing their work in print but also as an opportunity for editorial advice and support to shape and encourage their careers; as a place for more experienced writers to experiment without losing either their usual publisher or a readership accustomed to a certain style or subject-matter; and as a print venue where writers with similar views and/or styles could coalesce to form more influential groupings to contribute to the constant regeneration of Scottish literary culture. These might seem rather high-minded views but they were the guiding principles behind our decision-making.
To be honest, we really only encountered one persistent difficulty: staleness. Let me explain. Sometimes, editors who had typically founded a magazine, and poured a great of their own time (and occasionally money) into it, found it difficult to comprehend that they and the magazine needed to change and adapt from what it had been at its beginnings. For example, Gairm had been founded by Derick Thomson in 1951 and he was to act as its editor for fifty years. It published all the great Gaelic writers of the twentieth century from Sorley MacLean through George Campbell Hay to Iain Crichton Smith. And Derick was an absolute giant in both the literary and the academic spheres. (I also served alongside him on the Council of the ASLS at one time.) But after nearly forty years, the magazine no longer seemed as – what’s the right word – as exciting, innovative, leading-edge as it once was. It seemed to be only going through the motions. We felt that a change of editor would likely reinvigorate it but Derick, when approached informally, was very resistant to abandoning the role, even to take up an honorary editorship. You can understand why. However, in the end, we continued to support it financially because there was no sign of any other Gaelic literary magazine on the horizon.
Did you have any other criteria for funding magazines?
I think it would be fair to say that we enjoyed idiosyncrasy and encouraged diversity – of authors, topics and so on, to encourage as many readers as possible. However, there were two key principles that we insisted on: a professionalism in design and production (these being the far-off days of print); and the payment of contributors. The first was intended again to encourage readers – although I have to admit that most sales of these magazines were through subscriptions, individual and institutional, and only a few bookshops handled copies for the impulse buyer.
James Thin’s on North Bridge was an honourable exception, offering a wide range for what may have been a largely student market. The second criterion was more readily understood: we offered funding not only to support the production of the magazine but also to support the authors; you cannot create a healthy literary culture on the back of volunteer or amateur – I mean in the sense of unpaid – writers. We never used circulation figures as a funding criterion, as compared to content and presentation, but we did expect proper accounts, even of a rudimentary kind. On the other hand, with the benefit of hindsight, we perhaps should have been proactive in creating some form of central distribution system, perhaps with an existing firm, to strengthen circulation here and elsewhere.
You had a later involvement with the SAC and magazines, I believe?
A minor one. Sometime after I left the SAC committees, in 2004 in fact, Gavin Wallace commissioned Marion Sinclair, who had also previously served on the Literature Committee and is now, of course, Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, to write a Review of Scottish Publishing. One of our key recommendations was the establishment of a new magazine to promote Scottish writing and publishing along the lines of the very successful Books Ireland that had been going from 1976. That had acted as a very successful ambassador for Irish literary culture, particularly in its overseas distribution through the country’s consulates and embassies. Unfortunately, the British Council was less enthusiastic about a Scottish iteration. Anyway, that was the origin of the Scottish Review of Books in 2004.
(Books in Scotland had already existed up to 1998. It had been founded by Norman Wilson of the Ramsay Head Press in 1976. On his death, his widow Christine took over as editor with the support of his son Conrad. Christine was very generous to a young academic with a large family in both employing me as a reviewer and providing my daughter and sons with lots of mint children’s books – a genre that Books in Scotland did not cover.) Where was I?
The ‘Scottish Review of Books’.
Yes. The magazine was eventually stabilised through its link with the Herald newspaper which distributed it as a supplement to its standard Saturday edition. This was due, I think, to the then links with the Herald of its Editor, the dynamic Alan Taylor. However, it still needed support from the SAC, now Creative Scotland, particularly after the link with the Herald was broken. In 2019, Creative Scotland stopped funding it and it survives now online only. Coincidentally, Books Ireland became online only in 2019 as well but it continues to be supported by the Irish Arts Council. You know, if Scotland were an independent nation like Ireland, then it might lose its…
We’d better stop there. But what about the title you’ve given to this interview?
Oh, the death threat, you ask. I noted earlier that a key criterion for funding was that the magazine had to pay its contributors. We didn’t set the rate but they had to be paid. One of the editors steadfastly refused to do this and we had to withdraw support for his magazine. He then wrote to the sub-committee threatening to kill each of us next time he ran across us. It was a less litigious time and we just ignored him. And of course, it was not the first extreme reaction I’d ever received. In the 1980s, I undertook a review of small poetry presses (basically everyone except Faber and Chatto) for the ACGB [Arts Council of Great Britain] and I had to make some negative recommendations. Well, you’ve never seen vicious vituperation like that of vitriolic versifiers. But that’s for another day…
Thanks. We’ll leave it there then.
(Alistair McCleery interviewed by Alistair McCleery, St Patrick’s Day, 2021)
Alistair McCleery has published much work on the history of the publishing trade as well as on its contemporary prospects. He is the author of over 120 refereed articles and book chapters as well as some 15 books. He has written on Scottish authors from John Buchan to Neil M. Gunn, and on Scottish literary magazines from the 1920s to the 1990s.
The focus of this network begins in the 1960s, but there is a much deeper history of Scottish magazines. Charlotte Lauder takes a longer view.
Modern Scottish magazines have a long history. We can start with the Scots Magazine, established in 1739 and still published today. Yet, beneath this remarkable longevity lies a fractured history which makes the Scots Magazine a convincing simile for the development of modern Scottish magazines in general. In fact, the Scots Magazine has been out of print for much of its life – between 1826 and 1887, and from 1893 to 1922. Its most stable period of publication has only been since 1927. Similarly, the magazine has flip-flopped between a variety of proprietors and political allegiances, including the Free Kirk of Scotland (Liberal), the St Andrew’s Society of Glasgow (Unionist-nationalist), and D. C. Thomson & Co. (Unionist).
Although prominent during the time period covered by this research network, the Scots Magazine is not a title I’d consider to be within its lens of inquiry. But it is still a magazine produced in Scotland and it emphasises many of the issues under evaluation by this network: how do magazines construct or express Scottish national identity? How does politics influence a magazine (and vice versa)? How important are the people behind the press? Ultimately, what do magazines do (and not do)?
These questions have been somewhat neglected, particularly outwith the 1920-40 period. While studies of these magazines remain important, and the work of Margery Palmer McCulloch, Alistair McCleery, Cairns Craig, and David Finkelstein is extremely relevant, our view of Scottish magazines has been thwarted by insularity and a tendency to arrange good marriages between the major movements of that era: Scottish nationalism, Scottish Literary Revival, and Scottish modernism. If we take a step back, what can a longer and broader view of Scottish magazines tell us?
Firstly, Scottish magazines are ‘connecters’. Most of the best-studied Scottish titles are ‘little magazines’ like Patrick Geddes’ Evergreen (1895-96), Hugh MacDiarmid’s Scottish Chapbook (1922-23) and Northern Review (1924), and J. H. Whyte’s Modern Scot (1930-35), whose contributors and associated literati are also well-known. Research on these magazines, and their European counterparts, has provided a rich body of theoretical and methodological approaches, the most interesting of which is probably ‘periodical encounters’, focused on the social, economic, intellectual, cultural and material relations that make up connections between magazines, which Nathan Hensley has described as ‘a chain of visible or material connections’. How magazines establish connections with other magazines (and also how they don’t) is just as interesting as what they publish. Materiality is a trusted entry point into these encounters – what is the format of the magazine? How many pages? What colours are used? Are these the same across the board? Assessing changes in form and layout also reveal ‘hidden’ aspects of magazines – is an increase in the number of pages the result of more funding? Does a change in format reflect a change in staff or printing premises? Can a change in font be political, or is it merely typographical?
As great at connecting as Scottish magazines were, they often published the same contributors, and increasingly those contributors ended up being the magazine’s readership. A long view of Scottish magazines therefore teaches us that they are also insular, and what a magazine sets out to do – for example, reaching an audience of like-minded intellectuals, writers, or creatives – is not always what it achieves. Hugh MacDiarmid, that omnipresent figure in the history of the modern Scottish press, lamented the lack of reach in Scottish magazines of the 1920s when he wrote that “None of these significant little periodicals – crude, absurd, enthusiastic, vital – have yet appeared in Auchtermuchty or Ardnamurchan […] It is discouraging to reflect that this is not the way the Dadaists go about the business!”. Any study of postwar Scottish magazines should bear this in mind, and give attention to the ‘periodical encounters’ that immediately preceded those under examination here; or, at least, the encounters that magazines of the 1960s-90s said that they were responding to. Titles like The Voice of Scotland: a quarterly magazine of Scottish arts and affairs (1938-1961), The Galliard. An illustrated review of Scottish life and venture (1948-49), and Scottish art and letters (1944-50) are part of this precursory landscape and are as under-researched as those that form the body of this network.
Nationality is both helped and hindered by ‘periodical encounters’. Is a magazine produced in Scotland the only pre-requisite to being a ‘Scottish magazine’? What about magazines created for Scots abroad, like The Fiery Cross: a magazine for Scottish Canadians (1895-96) or The Australasian Highlander (1970-). There were magazines produced in Scotland by non-Scots, like those created by internationalist-socialist Guy A. Aldred’s Bakunin Press, including The Commune (1923-29), Regeneracion!! (1936-37), and Word (1938-64). And what about magazines that originated in Scotland, but which migrated elsewhere? James Leatham (1865-1945), the influential Aberdonian socialist and publisher of Scotland’s first socialist newspaper The Worker’s Herald (1891-92), after moving from Aberdeen to Yorkshire, established the Cottingham Press and published The Gateway (1912-45), ‘a monthly magazine aimed at Scots at home and abroad’, across these locations. Might there be a politically or editorially pithy magazine in London, Dublin, or New York with an eye towards Scotland and a viewpoint on devolution, arts funding, or contemporary literature? Most likely, no. But the outward looking and internationalist attitude of Scottish International (Review) (1968-74) and The Dark Horse (1995-) makes it not impossible.
Feminist magazines, of which Scotland was a prodigious producer, offer us a way into transnational encounters. As Rachael Alexander has demonstrated, magazines such as Scottish Women’s Liberation Journal (1977-78), Ms Print (1978-81), Harpies and Quines (1992-94), and NESSIE: A Radical and Revolutionary Feminist Newsletter in Scotland (1979-?), were concurrent with Spare Rib (1972-93), A Woman’s Place (1977), and Ms. (1971-), and studies into the ‘periodical encounters’ of feminist magazines at local, regional, national and international levels are certainly ripe for further research.
The obvious conclusion that a long view of Scottish magazines suggests is that, at some point or another, there has always been a need to represent and codify some aspect of Scottish life. Sometimes this is obvious: regionality, feminism, language, literature, politics, history, and religion. At other times, not so much – for example, what is within the pages of the sole issue of The Scot-free magazine, published in Glasgow in 1989? A long view reiterates a phrase I often use, that magazines have a porous boundary between consumption and contribution. By considering a longer history of Scottish magazines, we see this relationship at work, and that the ‘outside’ of magazines are just as important as the ‘inside’ of them.
Charlotte Lauder is a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde and National Library of Scotland. She focuses on popular literary magazines published in Scotland between 1870 and 1920. Her work on Scottish women’s magazines has been featured on BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Scotland News.
 Sarah Browne, “A Veritable Hotbed of Feminism”: Women’s Liberation in St Andrews, Scotland, c.1968-c.1979’, Twentieth Century British History, 23, 1, (2012), 100-123; Bec Wonders, ‘Mapping second wave feminist periodicals: Networks of conflict and counterpublics, 1970-1990’, Art Libraries Journal, 45, 3, (2020), 106-113.