Monday, 12 July 2021

Books and Bookmen

 On Anecdotal Evidence today, Patrick Kurp says he would like to see the term 'bookman' resuscitated, without its fusty connotations. This reminded me that there was once a magazine called Books & Bookmen – and it was certainly anything but fusty. Published by the decidedly eccentric Philip Dossé, it was refreshingly outspoken, unpredictable and often vituperative, and I always enjoyed reading it. Books & Bookmen was one of a stable of titles published by Dossé's company, Hansom Books. Back in my long-ago library days, I had a colleague who wrote for Dance & Dancers, which made him something of a glamorous figure in my eyes, though he said he only did it for the free tickets (there certainly wasn't any money in writing for Dossé's titles). Books & Bookmen lasted from 1955 to 1986, and its principal ornament for some while was Auberon Waugh, who later took something of the Books & Bookmen spirit with him to Literary Review, the best magazine of its kind that we still have. 
  The special character of Books & Bookmen, and its publisher, is well caught in this piece by its last editor, the novelist Sally Emerson, and in this one, from The Oldie, by Michael Barber. Sadly, a magazine like Books & Bookmen could never be published now – even the name would give offence, let alone the contents. That was another age. 

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