The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

I met with publisher Simon Dardick last year (2014) at his home office in Montreal to talk about the history and collecting of his great Canadian publishing house Vehicule Press

Direct download: Simon_Dardick_Final.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 6:34pm EDT


Shanty Bay Press was established in Shanty Bay, Ontario, in 1996 as a private press devoted to publishing livres d’artistes in which the texts and the illustrations accompanying them would have equal weight in the design of the books. The press is a partnership: the type-setting, presswork and binding are the work of Janis Butler, the illustrations are byWalter Bachinski, and the editorial, design and publishing decisions are shared. The press’s equipment includes a Vandercook SP20, Vandercook Universal 1, double crown Washington hand press (1836), an etching press, and a growing collection of type.

I visited the Press recently to talk with its proprietors, starting with Walter Bachinski.  We cover a lot of ground including personal history, the history of the press, fine press book illustration, design and composition, love of books and book collecting.  

Direct download: Walter_Bachinski_Shanty_Bay_Press.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 10:11am EDT

Strange Victories: Grove Press, 1951-1985 is a major exhibition about the Grove Press currently currently running at the Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library in Syracuse.

Grove was founded by Barney Rosset in 1951 and is one of the world's great twentieth-century avant-garde publishing houses. It's credited with having introduced many important international authors to American readers during the postwar period.

The exhibition traces the history of the Press from its involvement in national censorship trials, to publication of politically-engaged works such as The Wretched of the Earth, Red Star over China, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and the scandalous and very profitable, “Victorian Library.” Grove not only challenged social mores, equality rights, and freedom of expression laws, it also "aggressively deployed savvy marketing strategies, became embroiled in labor union battles, floundered in its own success, and offended the sensibilities of not only “squares,” but feminists, Marxists, academics, and many others. Strange Victories tells the complicated story of Grove’s many literary and political achievements, whose profound influence on American culture endures today."

I met recently with co-curator Lucy Mulroney to talk about Grove Press and the exhibition. 

Direct download: Lucy_Mulroney_Grove_Press_ZOOM0014.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 10:41am EDT

Adam Barrows is a Professor in the English Department at Carleton University in Ottawa. The focus of his research for the last eight years has been the relationship between time, literary modernism, and imperialism. His background is in the history of science and his theoretical approach to literature is largely historical materialist, drawing heavily on the Western Marxist tradition, from the Frankfurt School to Raymond Williams and Henri Lefebvre.

Growing out of his interest in twentieth-century British literature he recently led a seminar on the Hogarth Press, as he puts it "one of the most important venues for the production and dissemination of the experimental writings that would come to define the modernist literary canon. Their express purpose was to enable the publication of works that would otherwise never have found a home in the conventional publishing industry, including their own.

In addition to publishing such central works of literary modernism as T.S. Eliot’s Poems (1919) and The Waste Land (1923), Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room (1922) and Katherine Mansfield’s Prelude (1918), the Hogarth Press was also committed to the publication of radically dissident anti-imperialist works such as Leonard Woolf’s own Imperialism and Civilization (1928), Lord Oliver’s The Anatomy of African Misery (1928), Edward John Thompson’s The Other Side of the Medal (1925) and C.L.R. James’s The Case for West-Indian Self Government (1933)."

We met recently to talk about Virginia and Leonard Woolf and the history and output of the Hogarth Press.

Direct download: Adam_Barrows_Hogarth_edit_80kb120706_001.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 12:37pm EDT

Peter Dorn in his studio near Kingston, On. with Carl Dair

Heinrich Heine’s writings, poetry, and ideology delighted and enlightened me. He became a personal, meaningful experience, in the same way I feel, that private printing is a personal experience, printing meaningful things. These feelings make up the “idealistic” birth of the Heinrich Heine press”

Peter Dorn in Reader, Lover of Books, Lover of Heaven (North York Public Library, 1978. Designed by Glen Goluska).

Listen here to my conversation with Peter Dorn about his Heinrich Heine Press, his immigration to Canada, his work at Eaton’s department store, Canadian book design in the 1950s and 1960s, the influence of Carl Dair and Frank Newfeld, his move to Kingston and his work at Queen’s University.

Direct download: Peter_Dorn_R09_0007.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 10:26pm EDT

Crispin Elsted, Canada's own larger (about a foot taller) than life William Morris.

Barbarian Press was established in 1977 in Kent, England where Jan and Crispin Elsted worked with Graham Williams at the Florin Press. With three flatbed hand presses and many cases of type, the couple returned home to Canada in 1978 to set up shop in Mission, British Columbia, about 50 miles east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley.  The press’s publications range from new translations of poetry and prose, Victorian melodrama, and new poetry to bibliography, illustrated classics, typography, and books on wood engraving. This last has become a particular speciality since the publication in 1995 of Endgrain: Contemporary Wood Engraving in North America, which was greeted with considerable acclaim, and is now widely sought after. This has spawned an ongoing series of books called Endgrain Editions, each showing selected work of a single engraver, printed from the original blocks, with an introduction and a catalogue of major works.

I met with the Elsteds recently to talked to them, in their home, about, among other things, their literary backgrounds; gifts, hands and the discovery of artisanal skills; aspirations and influences; the continuity of human experience; books and students and work experiences; doing all of this together; retirement at age 30; hand presses, hand-made paper and hand setting type, Canadians in England studying Americans; publishing the canon; wood engravings; favorite children; wine and typeface connoisseurship; books as unique performances, and the evils of the digital age. Please listen here:

This interview is part of our Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.

Direct download: Elsteds_56_R09_0002.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 9:47pm EDT

Will Rueter

Will Rueter is a private printer, hand binder, instructor and printmaker living in Dundas, Ontario. He founded The Aliquando Press late in 1962. It has, to date, produced more than 100 books, and plenty of broadsides too. Rueter's work has been shown throughout North America and Japan and is held in public and private collections in North America and Europe.

I met him recently at his home in Dundas to talk about, among other things, the origins of his Press, his love of printing, his Dutch printer ancestors, and his 30 years at the University of Toronto Press designing books. During the latter part of our conversation we talk about those volumes he is most proud of having produced, including Majesty, Order and Beauty an edition of the edited journals of renowned British bookbinder and private printer, Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, a close friend of William Morris and a man who has had a profound impact on Rueter's life and work.

This interview is part of our  Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.

Direct download: Will_Rueter_ZOOM0001_56.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 1:21am EDT

Audio Interview with Stan Bevington, Founder, Coach House Press, on which books to Collect

Last summer I met with Stan Bevington in Toronto to talk about the history of the Coach House Press and some of the more collectible books that it has published over the years. In this, Part ll of our conversation ( please find Part l here), we discuss, among many other things, the influence of the Stinehour Press, the adoption,  adaptation, and in some cases invention of new printing, photographic and computer technologies, and the book designs of Glenn Goluska and Gordon Roberton.

This interview is part of our  Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.

Direct download: Stan_Bevington_Part_2_56_R09_0016.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 11:14am EDT

Johnathan RoseProf. Johnathan Rose

Joseph Malaby Dent (30 August 1849 – 9 May 1926) was the British book publisher who gave the world the Everyman's Library series.

After a short,  unsuccessful career as an apprentice printer he took up bookbinding, and shortly thereafter founded  J. M. Dent and Company, in 1888, publishing the works of Lamb, Goldsmith, Austen, Chaucer, and Tennyson among others. Printed in short runs on handmade paper, these books enjoyed some success, but it wasn't until the Temple Shakespeare series, launched in 1894, that Dent hit the big time.

Ten years later he began planning what became known as the Everyman's Library, a canon of one thousand classics, attractively, but practically, produced pocket-sized books sold for a shilling each. To meet demand, Dent built the Temple Press.  Publication of the series began in 1906; 152 titles were issued in the first year. They were hugely popular.

'Small, lame, tight-fisted, and apt to weep under pressure,'  Dent's ungovernable passion was, says critic Hugh Kenner,  for bringing books to the people. He remembered when he'd longed to buy books he couldn't afford. Yes, you could make the world better. He even thought cheap books might prevent wars."

I met with famed book historian Johathan Rose recently to discuss J.M.Dent, and to find out why the Everyman's Library series was so successful. Please listen here:

This interview is part of our  Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.

Direct download: Rose_Dent_R09_0002_2.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 10:04am EDT

Douglas Gibson, Editor/Publisher

Douglas Gibson was, for more than 40 years, a noted Canadian editor and publisher whose skills both as writer and salesman put him at the pinnacle of his profession. Douglas Gibson Books, the first editorial imprint of its kind in Canada, has over the years  published much of the best writing that has ever come out of this country.

Stories About Storytellers is Gibson's memoir. In a series of short profiles, he tells us tales about some of the authors he has worked with during an illustrious career.  He himself is an impressive story teller. The book takes us on a coast to coast tour, through the lives and writings of, among others, Jack Hodgins, Harold Horwood, Alice Munro, James Houston, Mavis Gallant, Alistair McLeod, Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney. Gibson's journey through Canadian political and publishing history,   eloquently documents the story of Canada.

We met recently in Ottawa. Please listen here as we talk, among other things, about his careers and roles as editor and publisher, about the best Canadian fiction, luck and a system that encourages Canadian writing, olympic gold, the difficulty of literary prizes, subjective judgement, and the most important paragraph in Canadian writing. 

Direct download: Douglas_Gibson050103_01.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 1:39pm EDT