Independent radical publishing
Approximately 4,500 periodical titles and 20,000 pamphlets
Scope and content
The Small Press Collections consist of the Little Magazines (non-commercial literary periodicals), the Poetry Store (small edition pamphlets and ephemeral items featuring avant-garde writing and visual work), the Alternative Presses (underground newspapers with a political / countercultural emphasis), and a collection of reference material relating to the history of small press activity in the twentieth century.
The collections are international in scope and focus on experimental poetry and prose, with a particular interest in work engaged with the dynamic relationship between text and image: visual and concrete poetry, the documentation of performance and sound poetry, visual scores, text works by artists, and publications from the 1960s and 70s with many examples of the ‘Mimeograph Revolution’ and beyond.
Coverage is especially strong from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s but the collections also include publications dating from the middle of the 19th century to the present day.
The Small Press Collections were established in 1964 with a remit to collect the experimental literatures being produced as part of the rapidly emerging international independent publishing scene.
The first Little Magazines were received on subscription in early 1965. Shortly afterwards, the Poetry Store collection was established in recognition of the parallel and overlapping activity of the small presses producing poetry pamphlets and other ephemeral material. The Alternative Press (or Underground Press) collection was developed because of the connections between the two types of radical publishing activity, their exploration of alternative cultures or societies and contrast to mainstream publishing.
The collection is partly catalogued. To browse the records for the individual collections, conduct a shelfmark search for LITTLE MAGAZINES, POETRY STORE or ALTERNATIVE PRESS on Explore. To browse the records for the entire collection, conduct a search for SMALLPRESS, without spaces, on Explore.