Left Review

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Left Review was a journal set up by the British section of the International Union Of Revolutionary Writers (also known as the Writers' International), established in 1934 and continued until 1938.[1] [2][3] Left Review's editorial board was headed by Montagu Slater, Edgell Rickword, Amabel Williams-Ellis, Tom Wintringham and Randall Swingler.[4] [1]

The first issue published a position statement by the Writers' International, declaring Britain's economy and culture were in a state of collapse, and invited responses. The issues that followed published responses, such as the one by Lewis Grassic Gibbon in the February 1935 issue, and opinions on the nature of literature.[2] Left Review carried articles by a number of noted left-wing writers, including W. H. Auden, Winifred Holtby, Naomi Mitchison, Storm Jameson, Herbert Read, James Hanley, Arthur Calder-Marshall, and Eric Gill. [5]

MI5 recorded the names of all contributors to the magazine and kept detailed files on several of Left Review's contributors as possible "security risks", including C. Day-Lewis, Wintringham and Rex Warner. [6]

In 1937 Left Review was subject to criticism after Fredric Warburg revealed in a letter to The New Statesman that Left Review had refused to carry an advertisement for John Dewey's book The Case of Leon Trotsky, which published the report of the Dewey Commission which had defended Trotsky from attacks made on him during Stalin's show trials.[7] In response, Randall Swingler defended the decision not to carry the advertisement, stating "there is a line at which criticism ends and destructive attacks begin, and we regret that this line separates us both from Dr. Goebbels and from Leon Trotsky.".[7]


  1. ^ a b James Smith, British Writers and MI5 Surveillance, 1930-1960. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2012 ISBN 110703082X (p.2-3).
  2. ^ a b "The role of writers in British society". The Open University. 
  3. ^ Christa Knellwolf, Glyn P. Norton, Christopher (2001). The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Cambridge University Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-521-30014-2. 
  4. ^ Adrian Caesar, Dividing Lines: Poetry, Class, and Ideology in the 1930s Cultural Politics Manchester University Press, 1991. ISBN 0719033764 (p.203).
  5. ^ Margot Heinemann, "Left Review, New Writing and the broad alliance against Fascism", in Edward Timms and Peter Collier, Visions and Blueprints: Avant-garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early Twentieth-century Europe Manchester University Press, 1988. ISBN 0719022614, (p.118-9)
  6. ^ Smith, 2012 (p. 35-6).
  7. ^ a b Michael Woodhouse, Brian Pearce (editors), Essays on the history of Communism in Britain. New Park Publications, 1975 ISBN 0902030779, (p.235).