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This review is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

SILVER JUBILEE Poetry Book Society: The First Twenty-Five Years, 1954-1978, edited by Eric W. White (The Poetry Book Society) £1.00

Eric Walter White was made secretary to the newly-constituted Poetry Book Society Limited in December 1953, and he held this position until his retirement from the Arts Council in 1971. Now, as Chairman of the Society, he has compiled a 72-page volume of facts and figures about the Society, together with a selection from the poets' notes and other pieces which have appeared in its quarterly Bulletins. This interesting record of the many and varied activities and achievements of the most successful poetry book club ever to exist in Britain - or anywhere, as far as I am aware - is as fascinating for non-members as for members.

Eric White's brief yet thorough 'Introduction' which outlines the history of the Society shows that its success has been due to a combination of unusually clear-headed and imaginative decisions. These include the important one made by the Arts Council in the early fifties, after consultation with representatives of leading poetry publishing houses, not to support poetry competitions/yearly anthologies but, instead, to set up a limited company whose aims are


to further the education of the people of this country by fostering and propagating the art of poetry and particularly by promoting knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of the published work of contemporary poets, and to formulate, prepare and establish schemes therefor, provided that all objects of the Society shall be of a charitable nature.


Members receive annually four new books of poetry ...


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