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This article is taken from PN Review 240, Volume 44 Number 4, March - April 2018.

Mandeville Press
A Brief History of the Mandeville Press
John Mole
Peter and I first met in 1970 at a poetry reading in Letchworth. I had recently returned from a year’s teaching in New York and was back in St Albans while he was living in Hitchin and teaching locally at St Christopher School. We had both begun publishing our poems in various magazines and were familiar with each other’s work. Over the next two years we met regularly to discuss poetry and, as it were, monitor each other’s progress. It quickly became clear that we shared many poetic touchstones and were very much of one mind when it came to the contemporary poets we admired, so although I can’t remember the exact moment that the idea of approaching some of them occurred to us, it was not long before we had decided to do so with a view to publishing small editions of their work, and for this we would need to learn the craft of letterpress printing.

So we served our apprenticeship by standing observantly beside John Myatt, a professional musician and part-time teacher at St Christopher, who also worked as a jobbing printer at his home in Hitchin. Since much of what he was asked to print was programmes, lists and brochures he was enthusiastic about becoming involved with a more creative project. As he manipulated and ‘drove’ his impressive Heidelberg we learned the craft by proxy. This was in 1972 and, as neophyte publishers, we had decided to invite our poets to offer a poem for a series of single poem pamphlets, accompanied by an illustration, much ...

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