The London Mercury

Other names: 

The London Mercury with which is incorporated The Bookman

The London Mercury and Bookman

Date began: 
01 Nov 1919
Date ended: 
01 Apr 1939

The London Mercury was a monthly magazine published by Field Press Ltd.  It was published first in 1919, one year after the end of the First World War. It sought to fill a gap in the market of literary magazines. According to its founding editor it was unique among other literary journals as it combined the publication of creative writing, reviews of the contemporary literary output, publishing poetry, prose writing and full-length literary essays, and critical surveys of books. Its mission was to foster the teaching of English and the appreciation of the arts.

Especially after Rolfe Arnold Scott-James took over as editor in 1934, the magazine increasingly featured short stories and poetry by Indian writers. It also included survey articles and reviews by Indian writers on topics such as Indian art and Indian literature. Reviews of books on India were also increasingly published by the journal. The journal absorbed The Bookman in 1934. In the  late 1930s, the magazine ran into financial difficulties. The last issue was published in April 1939, after which the journal was absorbed into Life and Letters Today.


Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: John Collings Squire (1919-34), Rolfe Arnold Scott-James (1934-9).


Contributors: Mulk Raj Anand, J. C. Ghosh, Bharati Sarabhai, Rabindranath Tagore, J. Vijaya-Tunga, Suresh Vaidya, William Butler Yeats.

Books Reviewed Include: 

Bose, Subhas C., The Indian Struggle. Reviewed by E. Farley Oaten.

Rawlinson, H. G., India: A Short Cultural History. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.



 'Editorial Notes', The London Mercury 39.234 (April 1939), p. 274


In his final editorial for the journal, the editor Scott-James restates the mission of the magazine. Subsumed into Life and Letters Today, the journal would carry on this tradition. The journal was characterized by a broad range of materials  and sought to expose its readership to fiction and non-fiction written by South-Asian artists, writers and cultural commentators, exemplified here in this final statement of the journal's brief.


From the first Squire designed this magazine  as an organ of independent and disinterested opinion and that it has always been. My own conception of the magazine has been that it existed to serve the cause of creative ideas from whatever source they were drawn, more especially in reference to our own time, and to do what it could to promote an interest in such ideas, whether they were manifested in the stories and poems we published or the books we reviewed, or whether, more broadly, they were shown to be applicable to current practical problems. Whatever seemed to be informed and enlightened by the creative imagination – that I conceived to be within our province; and side by side with it, of course, one looked for the critical judgment, which in itself is allied to the creative.

Archive source: 

British Library, St Pancras