NWR Issue 84


This issue, New Welsh Review celebrates its twenty-first birthday. Such longevity for a literary magazine is nothing short of a feat of endurance and gives cause for genuine celebration. Inevitably, too, the landmark invites a retrospective. To that end, New Welsh Review has commissioned researcher and specialist in literary journalism Malcolm Ballin to examine the vision of six editors and their output: eighty-three issues of the magazine over two decades that have seen enormous change across Wales's literary and political landscape. His resulting analysis - not without its criticisms - provides an engaging insight into the magazine's development, as well as the intersections and counterpoints of editorial directions. Equally, it serves as a case study of the many travails awaiting those who would seek to run a literary magazine in the age of indifference. I hope that it also highlights the essential - dare I say it? - nobility of the entire endeavour.

Looking over the entire back catalogue of New Welsh Review, one thing becomes immediately apparent to me. The good editor is not simply a curator of the past or a conduit of the present, although, in the best of worlds, they will of course be employed as both. The good editor is always an activist, too. Back in 1988, founding editor Belinda Humfrey noted that while there was no need to 'argue a case for a literature in English in Wales… there is still a need to increase the readership of good Welsh writing in English both in Wales and in the English-speaking world beyond Wales'. The magazine has been
fortunate that Humfrey's successors, aided by the collective commitment of their editorial boards, have, in their own particular ways, stayed true to this mission against considerable odds. Now presents the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to these and other individuals who have given of their time and expertise over the life of New Welsh Review, and who have, together with our funders and sponsors, enabled the magazine not simply to survive but to thrive.

Today, Wales boasts an enviable roll call of talent, particularly from the younger generations, that in some ways mirrors the new renaissance of Scottish writing during the 80s and 90s - and could not possibly have been anticipated two decades ago. The achievements of Wales's new blood and the possibilities that are now open to it mean that, far from being complacent, New Welsh Review renews its commitment to contemporary writers and their audiences, home and away. Similarly, I recognise that we have a pivotal role to play in providing readers with a gateway to writers from the past whose work has fallen into neglect. Activism was, and still is, key.

This birthday issue also sees the unveiling of our new look. We hope you enjoy this revitalised New Welsh Review. Regular readers will note that the Review is now larger by eight pages. This means that we are now able to offer you an enhanced reviews section, ensuring better coverage of quality titles than previously and reflecting the prodigious output from Wales's publishers as well as those in the metropolis. We welcome your feedback. Contact me at editor@newwelshreview.com.


previous editorial: The Common Reader
next editorial: Serious Times


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