Wyndham Lewis


Wyndham Lewis was born in 1882 to an American father and an English mother of Scotch-Irish descent. The family lived on the Isle of Wight, England, from 1888 to 1893. After his parents separated in 1893, Lewis lived with his mother in England. He was educated at Rugby school, and then at the Slade School of Fine Art in London between 1898 and 1901. After leaving Slade, he travelled in Europe, visiting Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, and spent much time in Paris.

He returned to England in 1908, and soon established himself as a major avant-garde artist and writer. In 1909, he made his literary debut by publishing stories in the English Review, edited by Ford Madox Hueffer (later Ford). In 1912 Lewis had his art works exhibited in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition organized by Roger Fry. In 1913, Lewis joined Fry’s Omega Workshops, only to split from the group with several other Omega artists later that year. In 1914 Lewis set up a group of his own, the Rebel Art Centre; this gave rise to a new art movement, Vorticism. The Vorticist journal Blast first appeared in July 1914, under Lewis’s editorship, and was published by the Bodley Head. Ezra Pound, whom Lewis first met in 1908 at the Vienna Café near the British Museum, was a collaborator of the movement, and introduced Lewis in 1915 to T. S. Eliot, who became his close friend. Lewis fought in the First World War and his first novel Tarr was published in 1918.

Later in life, Lewis’s polemical views and his brutal attacks on contemporary artists turned him into an isolated figure. His 1930 novel, The Apes of God, for instance, is a satire of the London intellectual life, featuring caricatures of the Sitwells and some members of the Bloomsbury group. Hitler (1931) is Lewis’s uncritical appraisal of the German dictator, which proved to be highly controversial. During the Second World War, he spent time in the USA and Canada, and returned to England in 1945. He became blind in 1951, but continued to write till his death in 1957.

In 1946, Lewis approached Tambimuttu, who agreed to publish his America and Cosmic Man. Tambimuttu also planned to publish Lewis’s work Château Rex (the original title of Self Condemned) and The Writer and The Absolute, but the delays in publication led Lewis to terminate the contract with Tambimuttu’s Poetry London. America and Cosmic Man was eventually published in 1948 under the imprint of Nicholson and Watson.

Published works: 

The Ideal Giant, The Code of a Herdsman, Cantleman’s Spring-Mate (London: Little Review, 1917)

Tarr (London: The Egoist Ltd, 1918)

The Caliph’s Design. Architects! Where Is Your Vortex? (London: The Egoist Ltd 1919)

(with Louis F. Fergusson) Harold Gilman: An Appreciation (London: Chatto & Windus, 1919)

The Art of Being Ruled (London: Chatto & Windus, 1926)

The Lion and the Fox: The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare (London: Grant Richards, 1927)

Time and Western Man (London: Chatto & Windus, 1927)

The Wild Body: A Soldier of Humour and Other Stories (London: Chatto & Windus, 1927)

The Childermass, Section I (London: Chatto & Windus, 1928)

Paleface: The Philosophy of the ‘Melting Pot’ (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929)

The Apes of God (London: The Arthur Press, 1930)

Satire & Fiction (London: Arthur Press, 1930)

Hitler (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931)

The Diabolical Principle and The Dithyrambic Spectator (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931)

The Doom of Youth (New York: Robert McBride, 1932)

Filibusters in Barbary (London: Grayson and Grayson, 1932)

The Enemy of the Stars (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1932)

Snooty Baronet (London: Cassell, 1932)

The Old Gang and the New Gang (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1933)

One-Way Song (London: Faber & Faber, 1933)

Men Without Art (London: Cassell, 1934)

Left Wings Over Europe: or, How to Make a War About Nothing (London: Cape, 1936)

Count Your Dead: They Are Alive! or A new War in the Making (London: Dickson, 1937)

The Revenge for Love (London: Cassell, 1937)

Blasting and Bombardiering (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1937)

The Mysterious Mr. Bull (London: Robert Hale, 1938)

The Jews, Are They Human? (London: Allen & Unwin, 1939)

Wyndham Lewis the Artist from Blast to Burlington House (London: Laidlaw & Laidlaw, 1939)

The Hitler Cult (London: Dent, 1939)

America, I Presume (New York: Howell, Soskin, 1940)

Anglosaxony: The League That Works (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1941)

The Vulgar Streak (London: Robert Hale, 1941)

America and Cosmic Man (London: Nicholson & Watson, 1948)

Rude Assignment: A Narrative of My Career (London: Hutchinson, 1950)

Rotting Hill (London: Methuen, 1951)

The Writer and the Absolute (London: Methuen, 1952)

Self Condemned (London: Methuen, 1954)

The Demon of Progress in the Arts (London: Methuen, 1954)

The Red Priest (London: Methuen, 1956)

The Human Age, Book 2 Monstre Gai & Book 3 Malign Fiesta (London: Methuen, 1955)

The Human Age, Book 1: Childermass (London: Methuen, 1956)


‘Mother India’, Enemy 2 (1927), pp. xiii-xx, pp. xiv, xviii

Date of birth: 
18 Nov 1882

Extract from Wyndham Lewis’s review of Katherine Mayo, Mother India (1927)


Richard Aldington, W. H. Auden, Clive Bell, Laurence Binyon, Roy Campbell, Nancy Cunard, Raymond Drey, T.S. Eliot, Jacob Epstein, Frederick Etchells, Roland Firbank, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Ford Madox Ford, Roger Fry, David Garnett, Spencer Gore, Duncan Grant, Cuthbert Hamilton, Ernest Hemingway, T. E. Hulme, Augustus John, James Joyce, T. E. Lawrence, Marshall McLuhan, Kathleen Mansfield, Filippo Marinetti, Naomi Mitchison, Thomas Sturge Moore, William Orpen, Ezra Pound, John Quinn, Herbert Read, John Rodker, William Rothenstein, Sydney Schiff, The Sitwells, Stephen Spender, Lytton Strachey, Gertrude Stein, A. Symons, M. J. Tambimuttu, Edward Wadsworth, William Walton, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, Richard Wyndham, W. B. Yeats, Anton Zwemmer.

Contributions to periodicals: 

The American Review

The Architectural Review

Art and Letters

Art and Reason

The Athenaeum


Blast (editor 1914-15)

The British Union Quarterly

The Bookman (‘Nationalism’, 86.516, September 1934)

The Calendar of Modern Letters

The Chapbook

Commercial Art and Industry


The Criterion (‘Art-Chronicle’, 2.8 July 1924)

Current History

The Dial

Drawing and Design

The Egoist


The Enemy (editor 1927-29)

Enemy  (‘Mother  (September 1927- First Quarter 1929) [the review of Katherine Mayo's Mother India]

The English Review


The Graphic

The Hudson Review (‘Perspectives on Lawrence’, 8.4, 1956)

The Kenyon Review

Life and Letters


The Listener (‘When John Bull laughs’, 19.495, 7 July 1938)

The Listener (art critic 1946-51)

The Little Review

The New Age

New Britain

The New Republic

The New Statesman

The New Weekly

New Verse (‘W. B. Yeats’, 1.2, May 1939)


The Outlook ('Kill John Bull with Art’, 34.74, July 1914)

Quarterly Review of Literature (‘Ezra: The Portrait of a Personality’, 5.2, December 1949)

Saturday Night: The Canadian Weekly

Saturday Review of Literature


The Spectator


The Studio

The Sewanee Review (‘The Cosmic Uniform of Peace’, 53, 1945)

Time and Tide (‘Sitwell Circus’, 15.46, 17 November 1934) [review of Aspects of Modern Poetry, edited by Edith Sitwell]

The Times Literary Supplement

The Tramp: An Open Air Magazine


The Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century Verse

The Tyro (editor 1921-22)



The World of Art illustrated


T. S. Eliot, Egoist 5, September 1918, pp. 105-106 (Tarr)

W. A. Thorpe, The New Criterion 4.4, October 1926, pp. 758-764 (The Art of Being Ruled)

Bonamy Dobrée, The Monthly Criterion 5.3, June 1927, pp. 339-343 (The Lion and the Fox)

Rachel Annand Taylor, Spectator 139.5188, 3 December 1927 (The Wild Boy)

Hebert Read, Nation and Athenaeum 42.7, 19 November 1927 ( Time and Western Man)

W. A. Thorpe, The Monthly Criterion 7.1, January 1928, pp. 70-73 (Time and Western Man)

Alan Porter, Spectator 142.5267, 8 June 1929 (Paleface)

Naomi Mitchison, Time and Tide, 19 July 1930, p. 933 (The Apes of God)

Evelyn Waugh, Spectator 149.5432, 6 August 1932 (Filibusters in Barbary)

Stephen Spender, The Criterion 12.47, January 1933, pp. 313-31. (The Enemy of the Stars)

Hugh Gordon Porteus, The Criterion 13.52, April 1934, pp. 492-494 (One-Way Song)

Stephen Spender, Spectator 153.5547, 19 October 1934 (Men Without Art)

D. G. Bridson, The Criterion 14.55, January 1935, pp. 335-337 (Men without Art)

A. Desmond Hawkins, The Criterion 16.62, October 1936, p. 172 (Left Wings over Europe)

Hugh Gordon Porteus, The Criterion 17.66, October 1937, pp. 133-135 (Count Your Dead – They Are Alive/The Revenge for Love)

Hugh Gordon Porteus, The Criterion 17.67, January 1938, pp. 311-314. (Blasting and Bombardiering)

C. E. M. Joad, Spectator 162.5783, 28 April 1939 (The Jews, Are They Human?)


She [Katherine Mayo] has had the satisfaction of insulting three hundred million people: and should it be that three hundred million of her ancestors sustained insults, or one of her most prominent ancestors three hundred millions insults, this should do something towards wiping that out. (Such fantastic assumptions come to your mind: for what can make a person want to write such a book?) There have already been mass meetings of protest in India. Her little book is assured of its place in the pantheon of Hate...

and, finally, when she claims that the music of the spinning wheel of Gandhi has been a main inspiration to her in writing her book, she pollutes one of the only saintly figures in the world; and it is to be hoped that he will use all the lustrational resources of his caste-training to cleanse himself of any traces left by the passage of Miss Mayo: also, in connection with Gandhi, she is not so naïve as not to know that her super-American gospel of dogmatic modernist reform (or is it American, or rather should Americans in general be held responsible for their Mayos? I believe not) can scarcely be said to have anything to do with what Gandhi teaches.

Secondary works: 

Ayers, David, Wyndham Lewis and Western Man (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992)

Campbell, Roy, Wyndham Lewis, ed. by Jeffrey Meyers (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1985)

Corbett, David Peters (ed.), Wyndham Lewis and the Art of Modern War (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998)

Edwards, Paul, Wyndham Lewis : Painter and Writer (New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, 2000)

Eliot, T. S., ‘Wyndham Lewis’, Hudson Review 10.2 (1957), pp. 167-170

Gasiorek, Andrzej, Wyndham Lewis and Modernism (Tavistock: Northcote House in association with the British Council, 2004)

Gawsworth, John [Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong], Apes, Japes and Hitlerism. A study and bibliography of Wyndham Lewis (London: Unicorn Press, 1932)

Grigson, Geoffrey, A Master of Our Time. A Study of Wyndham Lewis (London: Methuen & Co., 1951)

Jameson, Fredric, Fables of Aggression: Wyndham Lewis, the Modernist as Fascist (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1979)

Jaime, Carmelo Cunchillos (ed.), Wyndham Lewis the Radical: Essays on Literature and Modernity (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007)

Kenner, Hugh, Wyndham Lewis (London: Methuen, 1954)

McLuhan, Marshall, ‘Wyndham Lewis’, Atlantic Monthly 224 (December 1969), pp. 93-98.

Meyers, Jeffrey, The Enemy: A Biography of Wyndham Lewis (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980)

Meyers, Jeffrey (ed.), Wyndham Lewis: A Revaluation: New Essays (London : Athlone Press, 1980)

O’Keeffe, Paul, Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis (London: Jonathan Cape, 2000)

Prichard, William Harrison, Wyndham Lewis (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1968)

Porteus, Hugh Gordon, Wyndham Lewis: A Discursive Exposition (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1932)

Pound, Omar S. and Grover, Phillip, Wyndham Lewis: A Descriptive Bibliography (Folkestone : Dawson, 1978)

Wagner, Geoffrey Atheling, Wyndham Lewis. A Portrait of the Artist as the Enemy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957)


The extract sheds an interesting light on Lewis’s view of the British India, and draws attention to the fact that Lewis sees Mayo’s racist accounts of India as a reflection of American domestic politics. This review was incorporated as an Appendix to Lewis’s work on America, Paleface:The Philosophy of the ‘Melting Pot’ (1929)

Archive source: 

Collection Number: 4612, The Wyndham Lewis collection, Rare and Manuscript Collections, Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Mss and letters, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin

Manuscripts, British Library, St Pancras

The Poetry/Rare Books Collection, University Libraries, State University of New York at Buffalo

Letters to Thomas Sturge, Thomas Sturge Moore papers,  Senate House Library, University of London

City of birth: 
Amherst, Nova Scotia
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
07 Mar 1957
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1888
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1888-1901, 1908-39, 1945-57


The Rebel Art Centre, 38 Great Ormond Street, London

Flat A, 29 Kensington Garden Studios, Notting Hill Gate, W11 (1945-57)

Tags for Making Britain: 

Naomi Mitchison


Naomi Mitchison [née Haldane] was a Scottish novelist and social activist. Born in Edinburgh into a wealthy and well-established family, she was brought up in Oxford, where her physiologist father, John Scott Haldane, was a Fellow. In 1916, she married the barrister Gilbert Richard (Dick) Mitchison (later Labour MP and life peer). The couple’s main residence from 1923 to 1939, the River Court house on the Mall in Hammersmith in London, became a lively intellectual centre, frequented by a wide circle of artists, writers, politicians and working-class friends. Among her many friends were Aldous Huxley, Wyndham Lewis, W. H. Auden, and E. M. Forster.

In 1930, she joined the Labour party with her husband, and became an active political campaigner throughout the 1930s. In 1932, she took part in a Fabian Society expedition to the Soviet Union, and in 1934 went to Vienna to assist the socialists who were being persecuted by the Austrian government. She also stood unsuccessfully for election as a Labour Party candidate for the Scottish Universities in 1935. In 1939, she moved to Carradale, Scotland, and became involved in the Scottish renaissance. In the 1960s, she was adopted by the African tribe of Bakgatla, Linchwe, as their councillor and ‘mother’ and wrote many books on them.

In 1934, Mitchison was introduced to Jawaharlal Nehru at King’s Norton, Birmingham, and later that year, she set up a meeting in London between the Labour politician Strafford Cripps and Nehru. After Indian independence, Mitchison visited the Subcontinent several times to spend time with her daughter Sonia Lois, who went to Pakistan to be a teacher. Her brother, the famous geneticist, J. B. S. Haldane, also migrated to India in 1957. Mitchison visited him in 1958.

Published works: 

The Conquered (London: Cape; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1923) [novel]

When the Bough Breaks and Other Stories (London: Cape; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1924) [short stories]

Cloud Cuckoo Land (London: Cape, 1925; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1926) [novel]

The Laburnum Branch (London: Cape, 1926) [poetry]

Anna Comnena (London: Gerald Howe, 1928)

Black Sparta: Greek Stories (London: Cape, 1928; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1928) [short stories]

Barbarian Stories (London: Cape, 1929; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1929) [short stories]

Nix-Nought-Nothing: Four Plays for Children (London: Cape, 1928; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1929) [play]

Comments on Birth Control (London: Faber & Faber, 1930)

The Hostages and Other Stories for Boys and Girls, illustrated by Logi Southby (London: Cape, 1930; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931) [children’s book]

Boys and Girls and Gods (London: Watts, 1931) [children’s book]

Kate Crackernuts: A Fairy Play (Oxford: Alden Press, 1931) [play]

The Corn King and the Spring Queen (London: Cape, 1931; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931) [novel]

The Price of Freedom (London: Cape, 1931) [play]

The Powers of Light (London: Cape, 1932; New York: Peter Smith, 1932) [novel]

The Delicate Fire: Short Stories and Poems (London: Cape, 1933; New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1933) [short stories]

The Home and a Changing Civilization (London: John Lane, 1934)

Vienna Diary (London: Gollancz, 1934; New York: Smith & Haas, 1934)

(with Wyndham Lewis) Beyond This Limit (London: Cape, 1935) [novel]

We Have Been Warned (London: Constable, 1935; New York: Vanguard, 1936) [novel]

The Fourth Pig: Stories and Verses (London: Constable, 1936) [short stories]

An End and a Beginning and Other Plays (London: Constable, 1937) [play]

(with Richard Crossman) Socrates (London: Hogarth Press, 1937; Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1938)

The Moral Basis of Politics (London: Constable, 1938; Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1971)

As It Was In The Beginning (London: Cape, 1939) [play]

The Alban Goes Out (Harrow, Middlesex: Raven Press, 1939) [poetry]

The Blood of the Martyrs (London: Constable, 1939; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1948) [novel]

The Kingdom of Heaven (London: Heinemann, 1939)

(ed. with Robert Britton and George Kilgour) Re-Educating Scotland (Glasgow: Scoop Books, 1944)

The Bull Calves (London: Cape, 1947) [novel]

(with Denis Macintosh) Men and Herring: A Documentary (Edinburgh: Serif, 1949)

The Big House (London: Faber & Faber, 1950) [short stories]

Spindrift. A play in three acts (London: Samuel French, 1951) [play]

Lobsters on the Agenda (London: Gollancz, 1952) [novel]

Travel Light (London: Faber & Faber, 1952) [novel]

Graeme and the Dragon, illustrated by Pauline Baynes (London: Faber & Faber, 1954) [children’s book]

The Swan's Road, illustrated by Leonard Huskinson (London: Naldrett Press, 1954) [children’s book]

To the Chapel Perilous (London: Allen & Unwin, 1955) [novel]

The Land the Ravens Found, illustrated by Brian Allderidge (London: Collins, 1955) [children’s book]

Little Boxes, illustrated by Louise Annand (London: Faber & Faber, 1956) [children’s book]

Behold Your King (London: Muller, 1957) [novel]

The Far Harbour, illustrated by Martin Thomas (London: Collins, 1957) [children’s book]

Five Men and a Swan: Short Stories and Poems (London: Allen & Unwin, 1958) [short stories]

Other People's Worlds (London: Secker & Warburg, 1958) [children’s book]

Judy and Lakshmi, illustrated by Avinash Chandra (London: Collins, 1959) [children’s book]

(with G. W. L. Patterson) A Fishing Village on the Clyde (London: Oxford University Press, 1960)

The Rib of the Green Umbrella, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone (London: Collins, 1960) [children’s book]

The Young Alexander the Great, illustrated by Betty Middleton-Sandford (London: Parrish, 1960; New York: Roy, 1961) [children’s book]

Karensgaard: The Story of a Danish Farm (London: Collins, 1961) [children’s book]

Presenting Other People’s Children (London: Paul Hamlyn, 1961)

Memoirs of a Spacewoman (London: Gollancz, 1962) [novel]

The Young Alfred the Great, illustrated by Shirley Farrow (London: Parrish, 1962; New York: Roy, 1963) [children’s book]

What the Human Race is up to (London: Victor Gollancz, 1962) (editor)

The Fairy Who Couldn't Tell a Lie, illustrated by Jane Paton (London: Collins, 1963) [children’s book]

Alexander the Great, illustrated by Rosemary Grimble (London: Longmans, Green, 1964) [children’s book]

Henny and Crispies (Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Education, 1964) [children’s book]

When We Become Men (London: Collins, 1965) [novel]

Ketse and the Chief, illustrated by Christine Bloomer (London: Nelson, 1965; New York: Nelson & Nashville, 1967) [children’s book]

A Mochudi Family, illustrated by Stephen John (Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Education, 1965) [children’s book]

Friends and Enemies, illustrated by Caroline Sassoon (London: Collins, 1966; New York: Day, 1968) [children’s book]

Return to the Fairy Hill (London: Heinemann, 1966; New York: Day, 1966)

Highland Holiday, photographs by John K. Wilkie (Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Education, 1967) [children’s book]

The Big Surprise (London: Kaye & Ward, 1967) [children’s book]

African Heroes, illustrated by William Stobbs (London: Bodley Head, 1968; New York: Farrar, Straus, 1969) [children’s book]

Don't Look Back, illustrated by Laszlo Acs (London: Kaye & Ward, 1969) [children’s book]

The Family at Ditlabeng, illustrated by Joanna Stubbs (London: Collins, 1969; New York: Farrar, Straus, 1970) [children’s book]

Sun and Moon, illustrated by Barry Wilkinson (London: Bodley Head, 1970; Nashville: Nelson, 1973) [children’s book]

The Africans: A History (London: Blond, 1970)

Cleopatra's People (London: Heinemann, 1972) [novel]

A Life for Africa: The Story of Bram Fischer (London: Merlin Press, 1973; Boston: Carrier Pigeon, 1973)

The Danish Teapot, illustrated by Patricia Frost (London: Kaye & Ward, 1973) [children’s book]

Small Talk: Memories of an Edwardian Childhood (London: Bodley Head, 1973)

Sunrise Tomorrow (London: Collins, 1973; New York: Farrar, Straus, 1973)

Oil for the Highlands? (London: Fabian Society, 1974)

All Change Here: Girlhood and Marriage (London: Bodley Head, 1975)

Sittlichkeit (London: Birkbeck College, 1975) [children’s book]

Solution Three (London: Dobson, 1975; New York: Warner, 1975) [novel]

Snake!, illustrated by Polly Loxton (London: Collins, 1976) [children’s book]

The Little Sister, with works by Ian Kirby and Keetla Masogo, illustrated by Angela Marrow (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1976) [children’s book]

(with Megan Biesele) The Wild Dogs, illustrated by Loxton (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1977) [children’s book]

The Brave Nurse and Other Stories, illustrated by Loxton (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1977) [children’s book]

The Cleansing of the Knife and Other Poems (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1978) [poetry]

(with Dick Mitchison) The Two Magicians, illustrated by Danuta Laskowska (London: Dobson, 1978) [children’s book]

You May Well Ask: A Memoir 1920-1940 (London: Gollancz, 1979)

Images of Africa (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1980) [short stories]

The Vegetable War, illustrated by Loxton (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1980) [children’s book]

Mucking Around: Five Continents Over Fifty Years (London: Gollancz, 1981)

What Do You Think Yourself? Scottish Short Stories (Edinburgh: Harris, 1982) [short stories]

Not By Bread Alone (London: Boyars, 1983) [novel]

Among You, Taking Notes: The Wartime Diary of Naomi Mitchison 1939-1945, ed. by Dorothy Sheridan (London: Gollancz, 1985)

Naomi Mitchison (Saltire Self-Portrait; Edinburgh: Saltire Society, 1986)

Early in Orcadia (Glasgow: Drew, 1987) [short stories]

A Girl Must Live: Stories and Poems (Glasgow: Drew, 1990) [short stories]

The Oath-takers (Narin: Balnain, 1991) [novel]

Sea-Green Ribbons (Narin: Balnain, 1991) [novel]


Naomi Mitchison, Mucking Around: Five Continents Over Fifty Years (London: Gollancz, 1981), 89-90, 101.

Date of birth: 
01 Nov 1897

Mitchison describes her experience of visiting India.


Joe Ackerley, Horace Alexander, W. H. Auden, Tom Baxter, Stella Benson, Henry Noel Brailsford, Jonathan Cape, Margaret Cole, Douglas Cole, Stafford Cripps, Krishna R. Dronamraju, Hugh Gaitskell, E. M. Forster, Victor Gollancz, Norman Haire, Graeme Haldane, J. B. S. Haldane, Tom Harrisson, Gerald Heard, Aldous Huxley, Julian Huxley, Storm Jameson, C. E. M. Joad, Andrew Lang, Harold Laski, Doris Lessing, Cecil Day Lewis, Wyndham Lewis, Bronislaw Malinowski, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Gilbert Murray, E. M. S. Namboodiripad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Gilbert Richard Mitchison, John Pilley, Horace Plunkett, Lady Rhondda, George Bernard Shaw, Stevie Smith, Olaf Stapledon, Dora Russell, Khushwant Singh, Osbert Sitwell, Dylan Thomas, Beatrice Webb, Rebecca West, Leonard Woolf.

Labour Party, World Peace Appeal (vice-chair).

Contributions to periodicals: 

Left Review

Liberal Woman’s News

New Republic

New Statesman


Journal of Modern African Studies

Modern Scot

Scots Magazine

Time and Tide

Twentieth Century

Woman’s Leader

Time and Tide (‘Anna and the Apes’, 19 July 1930) [review of The Apes of God by Wyndham Lewis]

Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine (‘Forty Years of Aldous Huxley’, 93.491, 1934)

Spectator (‘What does a Socialist woman do?’, 156.5616, 14 February 1936)

Current History (‘Leaders of British Labour’, 44.1, 1936)

Pakistan Horizon (‘Socialist Britain’, 4.1, 1951)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Banned Bodies’, 45, 7 March 1953)

Manchester Guardian (‘Sitting for Wyndham Lewis’, 9 July 1956)

New Statesman (‘India from Inside’, 56.1443, 8 Nov 1958) [review of Taya Zinkin, India Changes]

Listener (‘Free Fun in New Delhi’ 60.1546, 13 November 1958)

Cairo Studies in English (‘On Writing Historical Novels’, 1960)

The Glasgow Herald (‘Passages to India’, 8 June 1961) [reviews of Ved Mehta, Walking the Indian Streets; Peter Schmid, India: Mirage and Reality; Selig Harrison (ed.), India and the United States]

Harper’s Magazine (‘A Scottish Mother for an African Tribe’, 233.1396, 1966)

Community Development Journal (‘What community development is not’, 5, January 1967)

Shenandoah (‘Young Auden’, 18.2, 1967)


Charques, R. D., TLS, 28 April 1935, p.  270 (We have been Warned)

Wintringham, Thomas Hardy,  Left Review, June 1935, pp. 381-3 (We have been Warned)

Sparrow, John, Spectator, 7 February 1936, pp. 209-210 (We have been Warned)

The Hindu (Madras), 9 August 1959 (Judy and Lakshmi)


In the laboratory there were visitors from other countries. Once it was Ho Chi Minh, and Professor Mahalanobis insisted on marshalling us in lines to be shaken hands with. This displeased my brother; he and a Russian colleague – could it have been Oparin? – and Helen and I all went for a walk through the grounds instead of standing in line and met Ho Chi Minh with less formality later…
India and all its memories: one especially remains. I had walked round the garden of the Prime Minister’s house with Jawaharlal Nehru. We had I suppose talked politics, though simply being with him was always great happiness in itself. Then we went to see his pandas. He bent over stroking them; I tried to do the same but they didn’t like me. ‘Wait’, he said, and spoke to them. Then it was all right; I was properly introduced and allowed to touch. One of them had recently had a night out, ‘and had’, he said, I thought approvingly, ‘bitten a policeman’.

Secondary works: 

Benton, Jill, Naomi Mitchison: A Biography (London: Pandora Press, 1990)

Calder, Jennu, The Nine Lives of Naomi Mitchison (London: Virago, 1997)

Joannou, Maroula, ‘Naomi Mitchison at One Hundred’, Women: A Cultural Review 9.3 (Autumn 1998), pp. 292-304

Leavis, Q. D., ‘Lady novelists and the lower orders’, Scrutiny 4.2 (Sept 1935), pp. 112–32

Montefiore, Jan, Men and Women Writers of the 1930s (London and New York: Routledge, 1996)



In 1958, Mitchison visited her brother, J. B. S. Haldane, who was working in the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta. Haldane was a committed communist, and Mitchison witnesses international networks which her brother was creating in India. Mitchison does not specify in which year she visited Nehru, but the extract gives an interesting insight into her relationship with, and admiration of Nehru.

Archive source: 

Lady Naomi Mitchison, Botswana papers, diaries and writings,  Borthwick Institute of Historical Research,York University

Correspondence, diaries, literary manuscripts, family papers, Manuscript Collections, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Letters from E. M. Forster to Naomi Mitchison and Mitchison’s Memoir, Papers of Edward Morgan Forster, King’s College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Correspondence and literary papers, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library, University of Texas, Austin

Correspondence with  Bodley Head, University of Reading Library, Reading

Correspondence and literary papers, Buffalo State College, Buffalo,State University of New York

Naomi Mitchison Papers 1909-1979, Archive Collections, Columbia University Library, New York

1914-45: Correspondence, Imperial War Museum Department of Documents, London

Papers relating to Botswana (1964-74), SOAS, London

Letters to the Manchester Guardian (1949-54), John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Correspondence and papers relating to visit to Australia, University of Melbourne, Australia

Letters to Olaf Stapledon (1936-50), Special Collections and Archives, Liverpool Unviersity

Correspondence with Julian Huxley, Julian Huxley Papers 1899-1980, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Naomi Margaret (Haldane) Mitchison

Date of death: 
11 Jan 1999
Location of death: 
Carradale, Scotland

River Court House, Mall Road, Hammersmith, London (1923-39)

Carradale in Kintyre (1939-99)

Indian Writing


The Indian Writing magazine ran irregularly from 1940 to 1945. Ostensibly a literary magazine, Indian Writing was a platform for the radical, anti-colonial, broadly Marxist South Asian activists based in London to articulate their critique of Indo-British relations, alongside their own views on politics and culture, which would have been seen as extremist at the time.

The first issue of Indian Writing was written in 1940 with war ‘an immediate reality’ and the possibility of anti-colonial ‘revolutions’ imminent. Contributions to Indian Writing charted the Cripps mission to India, alongside a critique of the BBC’s Allied War Propaganda. Editors Iqbal Singh and Ahmed Ali forcefully voiced their objection to the use of Indian soldiers as ‘cannon fodder’ and to ‘the spectacle of innocent nations and peoples being dragged into the homicidal delirium of rival imperialist powers’ in the Second World War (Indian Writing 1.2 (1940), p. 68). In this way the magazine revealed the tensions between nationalism, anti-fascism and anti-imperialism of this period. The Book Review section of the Indian Writing magazine, served as a key space for South Asian writers like Ahmed Ali and Mulk Raj Anand to comment on each other’s novels as well as on other books on South Asia. This coverage was particularly important in the context of a broader, insular reviewing culture notably the resistance these South Asian fictional texts met from the more conservative, parochial elements of the British literary establishment, regarding their politics and use of Indian English.

Secondary works: 

Ranasinha, Ruvani, South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain: Culture in Translation (Oxford: Clarendon, 2007)


Indian Writing 1.1 (1940), p. 3

Date began: 
01 Apr 1940

As Gorky observed: 'Culture is more necessary in storm than in peace.' it is more necessary because it is precisely in the stormy periods of transition that it becomes imperative to maintain some sense of the continuity of human thought and endeavour, and even more, to understand the processes which lead to new cultural integrations.

In launching Indian Writing we take Gorky’s view. And for good reason. It does not seem altogether fantastic to suggest that we are witnessing today a significant shift of the bases of culture, that initiative in cultural matters is passing to those vast masses of humanity who have so far served only as pawns for the profit of Western Imperialism. In this respect, the awakening of India is one of the most important facts of contemporary history. No single magazine could possibly claim to represent this great movement in all its complex aspects. We only hope to interpret its specifically cultural implications. […] We are interested primarily in publishing imaginative literature which is alive with the realities of to-day.

Precise date began unknown: 
Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: Ahmed Ali, Krishnarao Shelvankar, Iqbal Singh, Alagu Subramaniam.

Roland Hardless (business manager)


The magazine reflects the Indian Writing editors’ perceived need to literally create their own space in the form of a literary magazine, to articulate their own views on politics and culture. The magazine demonstrates London’s role as a global centre and facilitator for anti-imperialism and diasporic nationalism.


Contributors: K. Ahmed Abbas, Mulk Raj Anand, Peter Blackman, Jack Chen, Ismat Chughtai, Cedric Dover, Attia Habibullah, Sher Jung, Pieter Keuneman, Enver Kureishi, Krishna Menon, Saadat Hussain Manto, R. K. Narayan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Clemens Palme Dutt, Raja Rao, S. Raja Ratnam, Bharati Sarabhai, Rabindranath Tagore, Suresh Vaidya.

Date ended: 
01 Jul 1942
Precise date ended unknown: 
Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Ahmed, Twilight in Delhi. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Anand, Mulk Raj, Across the Black Waters. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Barns, Margarita, The Indian Press. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Bromfield, Louise, Night in Bombay. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Chintamani, C. Y., Indian Politics since the Mutiny. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Coatman, John, India: The Road to Self-Government. Reviewed by Krishna Menon.

Hemingway, Ernest, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Indian Progressive Writers Association, Naya Adab: Anthology of Progressive Literature. Reviewed by Ahmed Ali.

Koestler, Arthur, Scum of the Earth. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Montagu, Ivor, The Traitor Class. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Nehru, Jawaharlal, the Unity of India. Reviewed by Clemens Palme Dutt.

Palme Dutt, Rajani, India to-day. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Rao, P. Kodanda, East versus West: A denial of contrasts, reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Rilke, R. M., Selected Poems, reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Shelvankar, Krishnarao, The Problem of India. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Singh, Anup, Nehru: The Rising Star of India. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Smith, Nicol, Burma Road, reviewed by Pieter Keuneman.

Spender, Stephen, The Backward Son. Reviewed by MulkRaj Anand.

Thompson, Edward, Enlist India for Freedom. Reviewed by Cedric Dover.

Zaheer, Sajjad, One Night in London. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Zoshchenko, Michael, The Woman who could not Read. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.


16 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
United Kingdom

Left Review


The Left Review was first published in October 1934 from Collet’s Bookshop in Charing Cross Road London, the same address as the Writers’ International (British Section). The journal published a selection of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction. It was seen as providing a much needed left wing perspective and filled a gap in the market of literary magazines. It also incorporated regular reports and updates from the British Section of the Writers’ International. The journal was committed to the fight against Fascism and Imperialism and sought to expose so-called hidden forms of war against the peoples of India, Ireland, Africa and China. It published many British figures with connections to South Asians in Britain. The journal sought to foster the development in England of a literature of the struggle for socialism and to publish work that reflected working life in contemporary England.

On 13 April 1935 it held a conference of contributors at Conway Hall, London, to determine the future direction of the Left Review. The journal was committed to highlighting the propaganda potential of literature. Furthermore, it wanted to raise awareness that propaganda is also literature to show how it can be used best as a tool for educating the masses.

The journal reviewed Indian writers such as Mulk Raj Anand, Iqbal Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru. Anand also published several short stories and an essay on New Indian Literature in the journal. Other Indian writers soon followed. The journal also published on Nehru’s campaign for Indian liberties and short stories by Alagu Subramaniam (‘This time the fan’), Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (‘The Drought’, in a translation by Sasadhar Sinha) and Ahmed Ali (‘Mr. Shamsul Hasan’), as well as poetry by Fredoon Kabraji (‘The Patriots’).

The journal ceased publication in May 1938.


Slater, Montague ‘The Purpose of a Left Review’, Left Review 1.9 (June 1935), p. 365

Secondary works: 

Brooker, Peter & Thacker, Andrew (eds.), The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines (Oxford: OUP, 2009)

Date began: 
01 Oct 1934

To whom are you appealing? It is the question that comes oftenest to LEFT REVIEW. To which section, to which stratum? In answer I would say that we are appealing to all who are looking for a vital expression of revolutionary work. If you want to get a notion of how men can change the world by understanding it and conquering their own past: come and look. If you want to see how men are changing themselves as part of the process of world change: read. If you want to take part in the creation of literature of the classless future, and help prepare the ground for the masterpieces in which the future will live before it has come true: write. It took many a score of writers to make a Cervantes. It is a more crowded world now. We shall need thousands.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: Montague Slater (until 1936), Amabel Williams-Ellis (until 1936), T. H. Wintringham (until 1936), Edgell Rickword (from January 1936), Alick West, D. K. Kitchin (from March 1936), Derek Kahn (assistant editor from June 1936), Randall Swingler (July 1937 - May 1938).


Contributors include: Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, Bertold Brecht, Cedric Dover, Eric Gill, Robert Graves, Andre van Gyseghem, Langston Hughes, Freedon Kabraji, Derek Kahn, John Lehmann, Barbara Nixon, Charles Madge, Naomi Mitchison, Edwin Muir, Pablo Neruda, Harry Pollitt, J. B. Priestley, Herbert Read, Paul Robeson, Siegfried Sassoon, Pulin Behari Seal, George Bernard Shaw, Sasadhar Sinha, Osbert Sitwell, Stephen Spender, John Strachey, Alagu Subramaniam, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Stefan Zweig.

Date ended: 
01 May 1938
Books Reviewed Include: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, Coolie. Reviewed by Geoffrey West

Anand, Mulk Raj, Two Leaves in a Bud. Reviewed by Arthur Clader-Marshall

Anand, Mulk Raj, Untouchable. Reviewed by John Sommerfield

Beauchamp, Joan and Lawrence, Martin, British Imperialism in India. Reviewed by T. H. Wintringham

Kincaid, Dennis, Their Ways Divide. Reviewed by Edward Hodgkin

Nehru, Jawaharlal, An Autobiography. Reviewed by Montagu Slater

Nehru Jawaharlal, India and the World. Reviewed by Montagu Slater

Rao, Raja, Kanthapura. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand

Spender, Stephen, The Burning Cactus. Reviewed by Derek Khan

Palme Dutt, Rajani, World Politics 1918-1936. Reviewed by R. Bishop

Singh, Iqbal, Gautama Buddha. Reviewed by Robin Jardine


Collet's Bookshop
66 Charing Cross Road
London, WC2H 0EH
United Kingdom

Asian Horizon


In the editorial of its inaugural edition, this short-lived periodical states its aim ‘to provide a forum for the discussion of the problems facing this new Asia and those who seek to work in harmony with the countries of the East’. Triggered by the newly independent status of Asian nations, it sought to give a voice to their peoples in order to enable western readers to gain better access to this region of the world. Asian Horizon published short fiction and poetry, essays on different areas and aspects of the continent, and book reviews. Examples include a short story titled ‘The Liar’ by Mulk Raj Anand, a poem by the London-based Aga Bashir, and essays on contemporary Pakistani fiction and an exhibition of Asian artists held in London in 1950. Produced and published in London, it included work by several contributors based in the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia, as well as in Britain.


Lo, Kenneth, Asian Horizon 2.4 (Spring 1950), p. 41


The extract is taken from a review of an exhibition of Asian artists sponsored and arranged by Asian Horizon and funded by D. P. Chaudhuri who founded the Asian Institute a few months previously.

Date began: 
01 Jan 1948

In the past there have been in London exhibitions of the works of individual artists from Asia. The exhibition at the Asian Institute Gallery during the third week in April was the first time that a joint exhibition had been arranged. It was quite a conglomeration of artistic works, some of no small value, as various and as wide apart as the traditions and background of Asia. During the ten days of the exhibition, it was viewed by over 1,000 people.

Neville Wallis of the ‘Observer’ described the exhibition thus: ‘…East and West meet most happily in the mysterious, decorative paintings of A. D. Thomas, an Indian Christian.’

The New Statesman reporter described his impression thus:

‘The exhibits themselves vary in quality even more than in most shows. I liked particularly a fresco by a Pakistan painter. There was distinguished work from each country. The Chinese seems to be least influenced by the tradition of the West. Even when they paint an English seaside resort it is just as Chinese as Pekin. The outstanding Indian painter is A. D. Thomas and, amongst the others, Mr. Abeyasinghe deserves to be as well known here as he is in Ceylon.’

Precise date began unknown: 
Key Individuals' Details: 

Dorothy Woodman (editor), D. P. Chaudhuri (assistant editor).

Editorial associates: Vernon Bartlett, Jack Cranmer-Byng, Maung Ohn, Hurustiati Subandrio, Poey Ungphakorn, Nguyen Van-Nhan, Chun-Chan Yeh.


That an exhibition of Asian artists was held in the metropolis – and that it was well attended – suggests a degree of receptiveness to the work of South Asian (as well as other Asian) artists on the part of the British. It is probable that this receptiveness was increasing in the wake of Indian independence. The comments by both reviewers signal an element of hybridity, or a cross-fertilization of ideas, in the work of South Asian artists in this period.


Contributors: Stanley Abeyasinghe, Mulk Raj Anand, Aga Bashir, A. S. Bokhari, A. S. Bozman, Ismat Chugtai, Chitra Fernando, Abdul Majid, Aslam Malik, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Kenneth Lo, M. Masud, Lester Peries, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, B. Rajan, G. P. Rajaratnam, S. Raja Ratnam, Suhdir Sen, Feliks Topolski, Ranjita Sarath Chandra, Khushwant Singh, M. J. Tambimuttu, Beryl de Zoete.

Date ended: 
01 Jan 1951
Archive source: 

British Library, St Pancras

Precise date ended unknown: 
Books Reviewed Include: 

Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish, The Bugbear of Literacy (London: Dennis Dobson, 1949)

Gandhi, M. K. The Story of my Experiments with Truth: An Autobiography, trans. Mahadev Desai (London: Phoenix Press, 1949)

Polak, H. S. L., Brailsford, H. N. and Pethick-Lawrence, F. W., Mahatma Gandhi (London: Odhams Press, 1948)


34 Victoria Street
London, SW1H 0EU
United Kingdom

Horizon: Review of Literature and Art


Founded and edited by Cyril Connolly, with financial backing from Peter Watson (who was also its art editor), Horizon was a London-based magazine which published short fiction, essays on literature and art, and book reviews by an impressive range of contributors including W. H. Auden, George Orwell, E. M. Forster and Stephen Spender, who was also the magazine’s uncredited associate editor in its early years. Several of its contributors had connections with South Asian writers in Britain in the 1940s, and the magazine displays an awareness of the work of Indian writers in the form of numerous advertisements for their published fiction as well as for periodicals featuring their work. In spite of this, however, Horizon itself gave surprisingly little space to articles by these writers or about their work. An article on ‘Kalighat Folk Painters’ by Ajit Mookerjee, and an essay on the artist Jamini Roy by E. Mary Milford, are two of the rare exceptions to this tendency to confine itself to Euro-American literature and art.

Secondary works: 

Shelden, Michael, Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of Horizon (London: Hamilton, 1989)

Date began: 
01 Jan 1940
Precise date began unknown: 
Key Individuals' Details: 

Cyril Connolly (editor), Stephen Spender (unofficial associate editor), Peter Watson (art editor).


W. H. Auden, George Barker, John Betjeman, Laurence Binyon, Maurice Blanchot, Elizabeth Bowen, Alex Comfort, Paul Eluard, William Empson, E. M. Forster, Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth, Aldous Huxley, C. E. M. Joad, Augustus John, John Lehmann, Cecil Day Lewis, Jack Lindsay, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Louis MacNeice, Henry Miller, Ajit Mookerjee, George Orwell, Ben Nicholson, Peter Quennell, Kathleen Raine, Osbert Sitwell, Dylan Thomas, Ruthven Todd.

Date ended: 
01 Jan 1950
Archive source: 

British Library, St Pancras

Precise date ended unknown: 
Books Reviewed Include: 

Fielden, Lionel, Beggar My Neighbour (London: Secker & Warburg, 1943). Reviewed by George Orwell.

Menon, Narayana, The Development of William Butler Yeats (London: Oliver & Boyd, 1942). Reviewed by George Orwell.

The Listener


The Listener was a weekly magazine, established in 1929 under the chairmanship of Lord Reith. It was designed to complement the BBC’s educational output and covered a wide range of topics. It drew extensively from the BBC’s broadcasting output, often reprinting talks programmes or supplementing them with further illustrations and information. The magazine was a controversial move by the BBC. Other magazine proprietors criticised the corporation for encroaching on territory beyond its remit. As a compromise, the magazine was only allowed to commission ten per cent original content and could only feature a limited amount of advertisements.

The magazine built its reputation on its intellectual and artistic output with its focus on broadcasting matters, the arts, intellectual life and politics. By 1948 it attracted a readership of 153,000. It featured contributions from a wide range of artists scientists and intellectuals, such as E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Laurence Binyon, Herbert Read, William Rothenstein and Mulk Raj Anand. In the 1940s it published many items originally broadcast to India by the BBC's Indian Section of the Eastern Service. It featured reviews of Indian authors and also provided comprehensive survey pieces on Indian art, history, and religion.

The magazine covered extensively the constitutional crises from the Round Table Conference to Indian independence with a view of providing a balanced overview of the issues. Politicians and activists from all sides were given a voice, either as part of round table discussions or articles. During the Second World War, the magazine became a useful propaganda tool, reporting extensively on the Indian contribution to the war effort.

After heavy losses the BBC decided to close down the publication in January 1991.


Watson, Francis, ‘The Case of Jamini Roy’, The Listener (9 May 1946), p. 620


Francis Watson’s article coincided with an exhibition of Roy’s work at the Arcade Gallery in 1946. He traces here the late success of the artist and discusses his artistic merit in the face of his newly-found commercial success. This orginally commissioned article (rather than a reprinted broadcast) is an example of the variety of reporting in a main-stream magazine like The Listener.

Date began: 
16 Jan 1929

He certainly abandoned the academic European traditions as unsatisfactory and irrelevant; but the other road - the road that starts with a dogmatic ‘Indianisation’ of theme and concentration on line rather than form, and ends in so many cases in meretricious insipidity – this road Jamini Roy declined to take; or rather, having followed it a little way and seen where it led, he turned back and found his own way.
He had to return only to his point of departure. When you first see a Jamini Roy painting (and you can do so in London now, for an Exhibition of his work was opened by E. M. Forster at the Arcade Gallery on 25 April), though you recognise what is loosely called the ‘primitive’ appeal, you are unlikely to think immediately of a particular example of Bengal folk-art, since it is a fairly safe assumption that you have not come across any. But, if having seen a Jamini Roy exhibition or visited his house, you should find your way to the folk-art rooms in the Ashutosh Museum at Calcutta, you will see drawings and paintings that almost bear his signature, and you will find that they have been collected from remote villages by the industrious curator...That is where he got it from; from his own people, and they got it from their fathers and from their grandfathers unto many generations.

I am not sure which I like best about Jamini Roy, the way he has created a market or his cheerful readiness to blow the bottom out of it.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Publisher: British Broadcasting Corporation

Editors: Richard S. Lambert (1929-39), Alan Thomas (until 1959),  J. R. Ackerley (Literary editor 1935-1959)


Contributors: Mulk Raj Anand, W. G. Archer, C. F. Andrews, Laurence Binyon, Edmund Blunden, H. N. Brailsford, Robert Bridges, Agatha Christie, Indira Devi of Kapurthala, Bonamy Dobree, George Dunbar, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Eric Gill, Robert Graves, Desmond Hawkins, Laurence Housman, Aldous Huxley, Julian Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, C. L. R. James, J. M. Keynes, The Aga Khan, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, John Lehmann, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Moore, Edwin Muir, Ruby Navalkar, Firoz Khan Noon, George Orwell, Herbert Read, William Rothenstein, Bertrand Russell, V. Sackville-West, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Stephen Spender, Cornelia Sorabji, Dylan Thomas, Edward Thompson, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, Leonard Woolf.

Date ended: 
30 Jan 1991
Archive source: 

Biritish Library Newspapers, Colindale, London

Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Ahmed, Twilight in Delhi. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Hindu View of Art. Reviewed by Herbert Read.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Sword and the Sickle. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Anand, Mulk Raj, and  Fingh, I. (eds), Indian Short Stories. Reviewed by Sean O'Faolain.

Andrews, C. F., Mahatma Gandhi: His Own Story. Reviewed by S.K. Ratcliffe.

Menen, Aubrey, The Prevalence of Witches. Reviewed by Francis King.

Narayan, R. K., An Astrologer's Day. Reviewed by P.H. Newby.

Narayan, R. K., The Bachelor of Arts. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Narayan, R. K., The English Teacher. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Rolland, Romain, Prophets of the New India. Reviewed by S. K. Ratcliffe.


Savoy Hill
London, WC2R 0BP
United Kingdom

The London Mercury


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.



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

Other names: 

The London Mercury with which is incorporated The Bookman

The London Mercury and Bookman


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.

Date began: 
01 Nov 1919

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.

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.

Date ended: 
01 Apr 1939
Archive source: 

British Library, St Pancras

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.


Sajjad Zaheer


Born in a small village just outside Lucknow, northern India, Sajjad Zaheer remains one of the most prominent and iconic literary and political voices in South Asia and beyond. Zaheer was one of four sons in a privileged family. His father was Sir Wazir Hussain, a notable judge and Chief Justice of the Oudh Court. After completing his studies in politics and law at the University of Lucknow, Zaheer travelled to the UK to enrol at the University of Oxford. Initially, this was a course mapped out for him by his father, who wanted his son to become a barrister. However, Zaheer’s eight year sojourn in the colonial heartland would prove to be a defining moment in shaping his political sensibilities and the alternative path he would follow on his return to India.

Once he had reached Britain, the struggles against colonial rule in his homeland were thrown into sharp focus for Zaheer. His response was similar to that of his contemporary, Mulk Raj Anand. Together, these pre-independence diasporic intellectuals developed a keen appreciation of the urgent need for emancipation in their country. Formative to this was the presence of a South Asian community already vocalizing its concerns in the metropolitan capital. This included figures like Shyamaji Krishnavarma and V. D. Savarkar who played a leading role in the Ghadar Party. The injustices of colonial rule became apparent to Zaheer, as did the need to challenge the status quo through a marked socialist political activism. He established links with the Communist Party of Great Britain and was one of its first South Asian members. During his time in Britain Zaheer also became editor in chief of the periodical Bharat. This was a journal of socialist politics headed by South Asian students at Oxford and concerned with the struggle for independence and the plight of the poor in India. In the literary arena, he and Anand had several encounters with members of the Bloomsbury Group, and were deeply influenced by the modernist literary movement, if not its politics. Zaheer and Anand’s attendance of the International Congress for the Defence of Culture in Paris in 1935, organized by some of the most prominent names in the European artistic and literary landscape, was also a key influence. The previous year, Zaheer and Anand had laid the foundations for the All-India Progressive Writers’ Association at a gathering in a London restaurant where they drafted the manifesto. The organization sought to marry the political and social with the literary, and held numerous meetings in London where students and aspiring writers discussed articles and stories. Zaheer also began his novella, London Ki Ek Raat (‘A Night in London’, 1938) when in London, completing it on his return to India.

Zaheer left London for India via Paris in 1935. Once in India, he continued to develop the organization, which held its official inaugural meeting in Lucknow from 9 to 10 April 1936, with the writer Premchand presiding. The group published several texts inspired by Marxist, oppositional and subversive politics, including a translation of Tagore’s Gora (‘White Man’), and Zaheer’s own anthology of progressive Urdu literature, Roshnai (‘Light’). After partition, Zaheer left for Pakistan, and continued to be an active socialist campaigner in his country’s tumultuous political landscape. This saw him jailed at various points throughout his life. His continued commitment to express the political through literature resulted in the creation of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association. It was en route to a conference arranged by this organization in Kazakhstan that Zaheer suffered a massive heart attack which ended his life.

Published works: 

‘Jannat Ki Basharrat’ (‘A Feel For Heaven’), in Khalid Alvi (ed.) Angare: An Anthology (New Delhi: Educational Publishing House, [1932] 1995)

London Ki Ek Raat (‘A Night in London’) (1938)

A Case for Congress League Unity (Bombay: People’s Publishing House, 1944)

Roshnai (‘Light’) (1959)

‘Reminiscences’, in S. Pradhan (ed.) Marxist Cultural Movement in India, Vol. 1 (Calcutta: National Book Agency, 1979)

The Light: a History of the Movement for Progressive Literature in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, trans. by Sibte Hassan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Date of birth: 
05 Nov 1905

Mulk Raj Anand, Ahmed Ali, Kaifi Azmi, Suniti Kumar Chatterji, Rajani Palme Dutt, Salmi Murrik (Dutt’s wife and representative of the Communist International Party in Britain), Faiz Ahmed Faiz (eminent Pakistani poet who found sympathy with Zaheer’s socialist literary imperative), E. M. Forster, Ralph Fox, Jyotirmaya Ghosh, Attia Hosain, Sardar Jafri, Rashad Jahan, Mahmudeezzafar, Hiren Mukherjee, Premchand, Amrit Rai, Iqbal Singh, Taseer, Razia Sajjad Zaheer (wife and fellow dramatist, author and political activist).

Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, Communist Party of Great Britain.

Secondary works: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, ‘On the Progressive Writers’ Movement’, in S. Pradhan (ed.) Marxist Cultural Movement in India, Vol. 1 (Calcutta: National Book Agency, 1979)

Bose, Hiran K., ‘Sajjad Zaheer: The Voice of the Common Man’, Chowk []

Coppola, Carlo, ‘The All-India Progressive Writers Association: The European Phase’, in Coppola (ed.) Marxist Influences and South Asian Literature, Vol. 1 (Winter 1974) Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, pp. 1-34

Gopal, Priyamvida, Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence (New York: Routledge, 2006)

Involved in events: 

Meetings of Bharat

Meetings of the Indian National Congress

Meetings of the Communist Party of Great Britain

Founding meeting of the Progressive Writers’ Association, Nanking Restaurant, London, 24 November 1934

International Congress for the Defence of Culture, Paris, 21-6 June 1935

City of birth: 
Golaganj, Lucknow
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
13 Sep 1973
Location of death: 
Alma Ata, Kazakhstan
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Dec 1927
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Oxford, London.

The Bookman


The Bookman was a monthly magazine published by Hodder & Staughton. First published in 1891, The Bookman was initially conceived as an advertising tool for Hodder and Stoughton’s catalogue. The journal also published essays and reviews. The journal was quick to respond to new technological innovations, including columns on film, photography and a new supplement called 'The Illustrated Bookman', which featured articles on travel writing and accompanying photographs that from today's perspective could be read as 'orientalist'. These photographs exoticized the locale, highlighting the places' strangeness, otherness and their attraction as a space for adventure and exploration.

Under the editorship of Hugh Ross-Williamson in the 1930s, the journal increasingly reviewed books on India and Indian political issues. Aubrey Menen became the drama critic for The Bookman from October 1933 to May 1934. His columns engaged with the state of London's commercial theatre and argued for an alternative theatre that was poltically engaging and addressed a wider constituency. He also intervened into debates around the creation of a national theatre. He called for a more realist style of acting and lamented the influence of film that in his opinion had lead to a dumbing down of theatre. The journal published a number of survey articles on Indian writing, and regularly reviewed books on Indian politics. The journal was incorporated into the London Mercury in 1935, which was absorbed into Life & Letters today in 1939.

Date began: 
01 Oct 1891
Key Individuals' Details: 

William Robertson Nicoll (editor), Arthur St. John Adcock (editor), Hugh Ross Williamson (editor).

Date ended: 
01 Dec 1934
Books Reviewed Include: 

Andrews, C. F., Mahatma Gandhi at Work (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931)

Bernays, Robert, Naked Fakir (London: Gollancz, 1931). Reviewed by J. R. Glorney Bolton.

Butler, Harcourt, India Insistent  (London: Heinemann, 1931)

Craig, A. E. R., The Palace of Intrigue (London: Harmsorth, 1932). Reviewed by  J. Vijaya-Tunga.

Crozier, F. P., A Word To Gandhi: The Lesson of Ireland (London Williams & Norgate, 1931)

Kennion, R. L., Diversions of an Indian Political (Edinburgh: Blackwell, 1932). Reviewed by  J. Vijaya-Tunga.

Polak, Millie Graham, M. Gandhi: the Man (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931)

Tagore, Rabindranath, The Golden Boat, trans. by Bhattacharya, Bhabani (London: Allen & Unwin, 1932). Reviewed by  J. Vijaya-Tunga.


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