chapter  5
30 Pages

The Literary Scene

ByWilliam Cederwell

Assessing the state of Britain's home-front literary scene in 1941, the writer and editor John Lehmann, one of the leading figures in publishing in the wartime years, had reason to be optimistic. The literary magazines of the 1940s were crucial; they were showing that London was still a literary city, a city that – in providing space for countless short stories and essays and poems – was committed to the rich variety of home-front life and experience. New voices of war did fill the pages of Penguin New Writing – and not only London voices, or well-honed literary voices, but voices from across Britain: coal miners, Royal Air Force personnel and soldiers. From the government's perspective, the vibrant literary scene was also something to be encouraged, not least because of its positive effect on the home-front mood.