Happy birthday Caxton Press

A Caxton MiscellanyThe Caxton Press was launched on 10 June 1935 by John Drew and poet/typographer Denis Glover to publish New Zealand literature. Leo Bensemann had a long and fruitful association as a designer and illustrator with Caxton. Most of the decade’s best writers were first published by the company. Caxton Press tells the story on its website:

THE CAXTON CLUB was a colourful group of students, writing enthusiasts and amateur printers which operated a small printing press in the basement of the University Clock Tower, Worcester Street, in the early 1930s. In 1935, renowned New Zealand literary figure Denis Glover, together with a partner, borrowed £100 for a new press and formed The Caxton Press. They set up in an old wooden shop at 129 Victoria St where they stayed for fifteen years.

In 2013, Central Library Peterborough hosted A Caxton Miscellany – a Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (see our photos). And in a timely echo, The Art of the Dust Jacket –  another most excellent Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition at Central Library Peterborough – is running from 30 May to 14 July 2014). No doubt many titles are from the Caxton Press.

1953 copy of The Group catalogue
1953 copy of The Group catalogue [1.5MB PDF]
One of the gems of our digital collection are The Group Catalogues, 1927 — 1977 as printed by Caxton Press. You can see their exquisite work closeup.

More on the Caxton Press

Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944
Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944

 

The People’s Poet – Rik Mayall RIP

Cover of Rik Mayall's autobiographyThe wonderful Rik Mayall – comedian, actor, writer –  has died. He was in Drop Dead Fred, Bottom, Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman, Lord Flashheart in a brilliantly memorable Blackadder cameo, but for me (and lots of others) Rik in The Young Ones was his finest creation.  I loved anarcho-socialist Trotsky-loving people’s poet-student Rick. His shouts of Sexist!, Fascist!, and chronic uncoolness made me laugh through the 80s and bey0nd. Heck, I still have my dog-eared, falling apart copy of Bachelor Boys with its sections of Rick’s poetry.

Here’s the finale of “Rick’s teen anguish poem”:

could it be

that I’m going to grow up

to be a great poet and thinker, and all those other

wankers in my class are going to have to work

in factories or go on the dole?

yes, I think it could.

Youtube has clips of Rik in action as Rick – poetasting like a champion (poet Ashleigh Young picked this one on Twitter):

I didn’t know he had written an autobiography – Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ (ahem) –  so am keen to read more about Rik. Because he was ACE.