Research

The Empire of English Literature

The Empire of English Literature: Editing the Global Anglophone, 1947-1993 examines the editors who cultivated, revised, and at times distorted post-war Anglophone writing. It tracks six key writer-editor relationships across five continents and the second half of the twentieth century, exploring how these partnerships recast works, careers, institutions, and the balance of publishing power. The first monograph to illuminate the role of editors in driving the post-war expansion of literatures in English, The Empire of English Literature draws editorial labour from the wings of literary history to centre stage, revealing the creative connections between editors in London and New York and authors from around the English-writing world. It offers field-shaping contributions to the study of editing, significant authors, literary institutions, and the Global Anglophone, deepening our understanding of the editorial function in literature and advancing the diversification of English studies. This book project reinterprets literary works in the light of their editorial transformations, reconstructing a range of writer-editor partnerships to reveal how published texts are formed and deformed. I delve into BBC radio as it broadcasts Trinidadian and Nigerian narratives, The New Yorker magazine as it publishes Canadian and Irish authors, and the Penguin publishing house as it expands to Australia and India. The Empire of English Literature is therefore a study of relationships as well as revisions, human ties as well as literary texts. It features editors like Henry Swanzy, an Anglo-Irish radio producer who presided over literary programmes that fostered both Caribbean and West African writers; William Maxwell, the anchor of the New Yorker fiction department for four decades; Hilary McPhee, founder of a fiercely independent feminist Australian publisher absorbed by Penguin; and David Davidar, who at the age of twenty-six launched Penguin India and led it to subcontinental pre-eminence. The authors they cultivated, and whose texts I explore, number V. S. Naipaul and Wole Soyinka (BBC), Mavis Gallant and Maeve Brennan (The New Yorker), Helen Garner and Vikram Seth (Penguin).

Migrant Editors

This book project investigates the postwar arrival in London of migrant editors, immigrants from the wider Anglophone world who created and reinvented the capital’s publishing institutions. But while the history of immigration to the United Kingdom after the Second World War is both well-studied and still contested, the effects of that immigration on the organs of London’s literary scene have been neglected. Migrant Editors is the first full-length study to address this subject with the comparative scope and editorial focus that its actors and texts demand. By illuminating migration’s galvanizing impact on artistic creativity and institution-building, it will reshape our understanding of the postwar development of literatures in English. How did migrant-led publishing houses and magazines develop through the decades of decolonization and transform later twentieth-century fiction, both British and more broadly Anglophone? I explore the impact of several migrant editors and their institutions—from Carmen Callil’s Virago Press to Bill Buford’s Granta magazine—on writers who span the variety of literatures in English, such as Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Buchi Emecheta, Pat Barker, and Margaret Atwood. Charting intersections across London’s literary communities, I ask how the editors’ hybrid identities moulded their institutions, influencing the writers they cultivated and the works they released.