All Essays

ESSAY Small is Beautiful: In Defence of Independent Publishing

by Robin Baird-Smith

The figures would suggest the book industry is doing well, but that seems to be mainly down to sales of cookbooks and ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. Lively, independent presses are still out there, but they are increasingly few and far between. From the initial influx of American capital in the 1970s to today’s myriad mergers and ‘fusions' Robin Baird-Smith reflects on how 40 years of brazen commercialism has squeezed independent publishers almost entirely out of the picture. [read full essay]

ESSAY Confessions of a Lapsed Leavisite

by David Stubbs

The influential academic and literary critic FR Leavis has cast a long shadow over English literature. Looking back over his own student years, David Stubbs recalls being wowed by Leavis's brilliance and passion, while also being exasperated by his withering disdain for the popular culture of the post-war era. [read full essay]

ESSAY Things to Make and Use: On Beauty, Design and Work

by Jeffrey Petts

Visiting London’s annual Design Festival, Jeffrey Petts contrasts the utopian aspirations of 21st-century design and architecture – from bathroom taps and 3D printers to the city’s new tall buildings – with an ‘arts and crafts’ view of 'soul-making' work, an idea reinvigorated for urban living in a recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. [read full essay]