An Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Nimbus, a British "little magazine" of the 1950s, represents part of a rich history of literary magazines that reflect not only the literary, but also the social and political history of England. Nimbus continued as well a tradition of modernism cultivated since World War I, especially by writers of the Bloomsbury group and the Auden generation. Nimbus was among such important little magazines as Encounter, London Magazine, and Poetry (London) edited by such distinguished writers as T. S. Eliot, John Lehmann, and Stephen Spender, that helped set a tone of excellence in the publication of little magazines and were instrumental in changing the mood and direction of modern British literature.
Nimbus: A Magazine of Literature, the Arts, and New Ideas began publication in December 1951 as a quarterly magazine of new writing. Tristram Hull, son of the poet R. F. C. Hull, acted as editor for the magazine's four volumes of thirteen issues. Hull was later joined by co-editors Ivo Jarosy, 1953-1954, and David Wright, 1955-1956. Due to editorial differences between Wright and Hull, Christopher Logue, in 1957, became co-editor with Hull and the name of the magazine was changed to Nimbus: New English Review.
The magazine, published by John Trafford at the Halcyon Press, grew in size, stature, and reputation from a fifteen page experiment into a sixty page provocative venue for new British, Commonwealth, and Continental writing. Nimbus editors rejected strict identification with any one contemporary British literary school, yet often found themselves involved in their debates and controversies. Nimbus attempted to distance itself from such recognized "Movement" poets as Kingsley Amis. The Movement poets were themselves reacting against the earlier romantic "New Apocalypse" writers such as George Baker, G. S. Fraser, and Henry Treece. The Movement writers were, in turn, considered by the "Maverick" poets to be conservative, formalist, and neoclassical.
Among the newer and Maverick writers published in Nimbus were Dannie Abse (also editor of Poetry and Poverty), Michael Hastings, Patrick Kavanagh, George MacBeth, Colin MacInnes, Vernon Scannell, Stevie Smith, and Alexander Trocchi (also editor of Merlin). Other distinguished and renowned writers published in Nimbus include W. H. Auden, Bertolt Brecht, Jean Cocteau, Mircea Eliade, T. S. Eliot, Jean Genet, C. G. Jung, Pablo Neruda, and Richard Wilbur. Nimbus ceased publication in 1958 due, it has been suggested, to financial constraints and lack of editorial focus.
For more information about Nimbus see:
Sullivan, Alvin. British Literary Magazines: The Modern Age 1914-1984.
Greenwood Press: New York, 1986.
The Nimbus records, 1945-1962, consist primarily of editorial files. The materials are arranged in two series: Editorial Files, 1951-1957 (2 boxes), and Business Files, 1945-1962 (1 box).
All issues of Nimbus, except the material for the last issue (Vol. IV, no. 2), are represented in the editorial files. This series is arranged chronologically by date of publication and volume number, and the order for each folder generally reflects the process of publication from beginning designs through editing and printing. The materials include paste-ups with corrections and printer's marks, galleys, page proofs, cover designs, and manuscripts from contributors with corrections and printer's marks. Illustrations, which usually consist of photographs or prints, by artists such as Leonor Fini, F. E. McWilliam, John Ward, and Gerald Wilde, are also present.
Manuscripts present include original holograph drafts and typescripts which are often annotated with corrections and printer's marks. These manuscripts, often found in edited versions, include translations from the French, German, and Italian. Nimbus published a diverse group of authors representing various literary schools that included such writers as Dannie Abse, W. H. Auden, George Barker, Bertolt Brecht, Jean Cocteau, Mircea Eliade, T. S. Eliot, Jean Genet, Michael Hastings, John Heath-Stubbs, C. G. Jung, Patrick Kavanagh, Laurie Lee, George MacBeth, Colin MacInnes, Pablo Neruda, Stevie Smith, Alexander Trocchi, Richard Wilbur, and Noel Woodin. Unpublished manuscripts are located at the end of this series and include the manuscript of The Unconsideredby James Pirie (an extract of which was published in Vol. III, No. 4), manuscripts by John Heath-Stubbs, Alexander, Trocchi, David Wright, and a radio play, "Too Tired for Words," by Stevie Smith.
The Business Files, 1945-1962, include correspondence, legal papers, and publicity materials. The outgoing correspondence is chronologically arranged, and consists primarily of editorial and financial concerns during David Wright's co-editorship. Miscellaneous notes and publicity copy ads are also found here. The incoming correspondence is alphabetically arranged, and primarily concerns immediate publication matters. A smaller amount, such as the letters of Christopher Logue and Noel Woodin, is of a more personal nature. Other significant correspondents include Dannie Abse, W. H. Auden, Djuna Barnes, Edward Dahlberg, C. Day Lewis, J. P. Donleavy, T. S. Eliot, William Empson, Michael Hamburger, John Heath-Stubbs, Patrick Kavanagh, Christopher Logue, Hugh MacDiarmid, W. Somerset Maugham, Vernon Scannell, Dame Edith Sitwell, Alexander Trocchi, and Evelyn Waugh. A complete Index of Correspondents can be found at the end of this inventory.
Legal documents found here include a certificate of business registration (1953) for Nimbus, and a contractual agreement between Tristram Hull, Noel Woodin, and Martin Green (1952). The publicity materials comprise designs and copy for advertising for Nimbus (as well as ads appearing in Nimbus), flyers, and prospectuses for future issues. Also included here are miscellaneous notes, newspaper clippings, and a drawing by Veronica Hull.
These papers not only add to the scholarship on the life and letters of Nimbus contributing writers, but touch upon the subjects of British little magazines and modern British poetry movements.
Open for research
David Hatfield Sparks, 1994
Nimbus Magazine Records--Folder List