NWR Issue 53

A Difficult Time

Regular readers of New Welsh Review will be surprised to see an editorial that does not appear over the initials "R.R.", the initials of Robin Reeves who has been our editor for the last ten years. The news of Robin's serious illness, revealed following tests at the end of April, has been a dreadful blow to those of us who have worked with him on NWR over the years and our thoughts have been with Robin and his family over the weeks as he has been undergoing further tests and, now, treatment.

When Robin was appointed as editor, few of us in Wales knew him well, if at all. His background was in journalism, mainly on the Financial Times, in London and abroad. "Robin who?" some asked. But it was an inspired appointment and he has been an inspiring editor. We were entering a period when it was felt that the magazine needed to broaden its scope, to reach out further beyond the academic and the world of lit. cit. - though high-quality, informed, evaluative literary criticism would of course continue to be part of our agenda. Robin spread our vision: the magazine became, for instance, the home for a regular theatre section - the first time theatre in Wales had had such a regular platform; we engaged film, once more renewing itself in Wales; we have given more coverage to some outstanding travel-writing, by writers like Jim Perrin. We have taken pride in publishing new voices from Wales: it is no accident that our last issue gave prominence to the new novels of Richard John Evans and Niall Griffiths. And NWR has brought to attention the work of older writers, like Ron Berry, whose work we feel has not received due consideration from readers and critics.

His Fleet Street background meant that Robin has always had an eye for ways to get NWR the attention of the press, not just in Cardiff but also in London, in order, crucially, to extend our sales - Was Dylan Thomas a spy? Who was the finer poet, RS or Dylan? Was Under Milk Wood really mostly written in Oxford? Few of us will forget the shock of seeing a large picture of Nigel Jenkins on the front page of the Guardian following the NWR's publication of his controversial poem on Lord Tonypandy … But these were not, of course, mere stunts; the stories arose from serious articles or discussions. Robin's years as editor have, of course, covered the years from the dark days following the 1979 Referendum to the Wales which has had the courage to say "yes" to at least a measure of power over its own destiny; this has meant much to Robin and the magazine has engaged with the debates which have marked that shift in confidence, with what it means to be Welsh at the beginning of the twenty-first century and how our writers can respond to our new sense of who we are.

Just a couple of months ago Robin organised a celebration at Chapter to mark the fiftieth issue of NWR; for the most part that was an evening of looking back. Little did we know of what was ahead. But many who were present that evening - subscribers and contributors - have demonstrated in the past difficult weeks how much NWR means to them by the very practical assistance they have given Vic Golightly who has shouldered the main burden of producing both A470 and the present issue. I pay particular tribute to those individuals who, from the Academi and the Association, our sponsoring organisations, from the Arts Council of Wales and from the editorial board itself who have made time in very busy schedules to give us help. In the meantime Vic Golightly has been appointed to carry the journal forward, with the support of the editorial board. And we offer our thoughts and all our hopes and good wishes to Robin, Rosanne and their family.


previous editorial: Prologue to an adventure
next editorial: A defining moment


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