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University of Texas at Austin

Little Magazine:

An Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Little Magazine
Title: Records of Little Magazine
Dates: 1965-1988
Extent: 21 boxes (8.82 linear feet), 1 oversize box
Abstract: These records contain correspondence, production files, and business documents, including subscription letters. The production files contain a substantial number of manuscripts published by the magazine throughout its run.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02510
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 1989 (R11707)
Processed by: Bob Taylor, 1994

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Organizational History

The Quest was founded in the fall of 1965 by Alexis Levitin. The original editorial staff and board comprised--like Levitin--graduate students at Columbia University. Levitin created a literary magazine which attempted to avoid a narrowly-defined focus and to encourage good writing from contributors of many viewpoints. "We expect (read the magazine's entry in the Directory of Little Magazines) of the artist not only a well-wrought structure, but, within it, a creative and meaningful reflection upon the essential truths of our existence as well."
After Levitin left New York in 1968 for a teaching position at Dartmouth, most of the work of editing the magazine was carried on by David Hartwell and Tom Beeler. This led to the purchase of the magazine from Levitin by Hartwell and Beeler in late 1969. Hartwell and Beeler had never liked the name Quest and renamed it The Little Magazine, under which title the magazine first appeared with the spring 1970 issue. Of the new title Beeler later wrote "no harm in a little cockiness when you are regenerating a literary periodical."
After Beeler's departure in 1971 the principal burden of continuing the magazine was borne by David Hartwell, working with a constantly-changing cast of editors and editorial board members.
Throughout its twenty-one year life The Quest and The Little Magazine published new poetry and short fiction from--in the main--younger American writers. Circulation never rose much above a thousand, even with national distribution by Bernhard DeBoer, and in the face of steeply rising production costs publication became increasingly irregular in the late 1970s. By the end of the 1970s Hartwell was heavily involved in science fiction editing but was able to continue publication with the help of the volunteer editorial board. Eventually the end came, and with the appearance of v. 15, no. 3/4 in 1987 The Little Magazine ceased publication.
An account of the founding and early years of The Quest and The Little Magazine was given by Thomas T. Beeler ( "Looking backward: memoirs of The Little Magazine, 1965-1971") in the publication's final issue.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

The archive of The Little Magazine, 1965-1988, comprise the correspondence, manuscripts, production files, and business records of a major literary "little magazine" which in the two decades from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s published a significant body of contemporary American poetry and creative prose.
Three series form the archive of the periodical: Correspondence, 1966-1988 (8 boxes); Manuscripts and Production Files, 1966-1987 (6 boxes); and Business Records, 1965-1988 (7 boxes). The materials have been maintained largely in the arrangement received, but some reorganization within and between files has been undertaken where the materials were clearly mixed.
Of the three series the first, Correspondence, is the largest and potentially the most important. Substantial numbers of letters from Peter Wild, Albert Goldbarth, and other significant American writers are represented in the series. While most of the correspondence is concerned with specific pieces submitted to the magazine, matters of general intellectual and literary import are raised throughout.
The second series, Manuscripts and Production Files, is the most easily characterized portion of the archives, comprising as it does the original manuscripts of a large majority of the works published by The Little Magazine. Apart from the pasteup of volume 14 and a few unpublished manuscripts these edited manuscripts comprise the entirety of the series.
The third series is the most varied in the archive--the Business Records comprise a wide span of material ranging from statements of editorial policy to correspondence with printers and distributors to a large mass of subscription records. The Little Magazine's relationship to the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM) and the Committee of Small Magazine Editors & Publishers (COSMEP), as well as efforts to secure grant funding, are also delineated in this series.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Correspondence, 1966-1988 (8 boxes)
The series is arranged in two subseries: Correspondence with Contributors and Business Correspondence. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent in each subseries, and represents the entire existence of The Quest and The Little Magazine, though the period after the mid-1970s is somewhat less well represented. Very little outgoing correspondence from the magazine (save a few carbons) is included in the series. Typically there are perhaps a half-dozen letters from each correspondent, though there are many more from some.
Correspondence from contributors represents a wide range of poets (most particularly, though fiction writers are included) active in America in the years of the magazine's life. Correspondence from Albert Goldbarth, Colette Inez, James Kates, Gerard Malanga, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry H. Roth, Francis Sullivan, and Peter Wild--among many others--is to be found. In addition to his correspondence, a number of C. W. Truesdale's manuscripts are included in the series, as is some correspondence of the 1974 Women's Poetry Festival, an event sponsored by the magazine.
Of the editors of The Little Magazine, Alexis Levitin is best represented in the series--there are a substantial number of letters he wrote to the other editors of the magazine in the late 1960s after Levitin's departure from New York City. Tom Beeler's outgoing letters (mostly carbons) to a wide range of correspondents also survive in the two subseries, where they are filed under recipients' names.
Series II. Manuscripts and Production Files, 1966-1987 (7 boxes)
Contains most (perhaps 80%) of the manuscripts actually published by The Little Magazine. Only volumes 3 and 14 are not represented in the series. In nearly all cases the manuscripts are those submitted by the authors, marked editorially for the printer's use. There are no galleys in the series and only v. 14 (together with parts of v. 2, 8, 9, and 10) are represented by pasteups. A few unpublished manuscripts are also included in the series; other manuscripts (mostly fragmentary) are filed with the correspondence in Series I. Some related correspondence with printers and quotations and invoices are found in Series III. Subseries B.
Series III. Business Records, 1965-1988 (7 boxes)
Represents a wide range of materials dealing with the foundation and nature of the magazine, including manufacture and distribution of issues. The series comprises four subseries. Subseries A. Editorial Policy and Aims (1 box), is strongest in demonstrating the formation of the magazine, its attempts to state a purpose, and its promotion. A group of manifestoes (manuscript and printed) and statements outline the magazine's view of itself, while its self-promotion is demonstrated most clearly in its exchange ad campaign. Correspondence, proof ads, and form letters are also represented. This subseries is strongest for the years before 1970, though materials relating to the magazine's National Endowment for the Arts grant (1978) is included.
Subseries B. Production and Distribution Files (1 box), is a collection of statements, invoices, and quotations from several printers, Bernhard DeBoer (the magazine's distributor), Xerox, and the U.S. Copyright Office. These records given considerable insight into the problems involved in manufacturing and distributing a literary "little magazine" in the period.
The third subseries, Professional Association, comprises materials relating the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines grant received by the magazine in the late 1970s, together with David Hartwell's membership on the 1980 Nebula Awards jury. A group of Committee of Small Magazine Editors & Publishers and CCLM and related newsletters completes the series.
Subseries D. Subscription Records, amounts to four boxes of invoices and other subscription records, arranged by agent or invoice number. The subseries appears to be a largely complete record of the magazine's subscriptions. The fifth and final subseries comprises a miscellany of stationery and other printed forms (including proofs), minor miscellaneous printed matter, and microfilm copies of v. 8 and 10 of the periodical received from Xerox.

Index Terms


Ammons, A. R., 1926-2001.
André, Michael.
Andrews, Jeanné R.
Banks, Russell, 1940- .
Baxter, Charles.
Beeler, Thomas T.
Bergé, Carol, 1928-2006.
Berke, Judith.
Black, Charles.
Brinkley-Rogers, Paul.
Bukowski, Charles.
Butscher, Edward.
Cadnum, Michael.
Carlson, Burton L.
DiPalma, Ray.
Everette, Oliver.
Gardner, John.
Gilliland, Elizabeth.
Goldbarth, Albert.
Gordon, Mary, 1949- .
Hacker, Marilyn, 1942- .
Hartwell, David G.
Henkin, Bill, 1944- .
Inez, Colette.
Johnson, Curt, 1928-2008.
Jordan, June, 1936-2002.
Kaminsky, Marc, 1943- .
Kates, James.
Kidd, Virginia.
Kinnell, Galway, 1927-2014.
Klein, Elizabeth.
Kroll, Judith, 1943- .
Kuzma, Greg.
Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929-2018.
Levitin, Alexis.
Lifshin, Lyn.
Lyon, George Ella, 1949- .
Malanga, Gerard.
Mella, John.
Morris, Herbert.
Morris, Richard.
Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938- .
Oldknow, Antony, 1939- .
Pedrick, Jean, 1922-2006.
Penzavecchia, James.
Piercy, Marge.
Reeve, F. D. (Franklin D.), 1928-2013.
Rios, Albert.
Roth, Henry H.
Schaeffer, Susan Fromberg.
Seavey, Ormond.
sherwin, Judith Johnson.
Smith, Dave, 1942- .
Stout, Robert Joe.
Sullivan, Francis, 1929- .
Tagliabue, John, 1923-2006.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel), 1892-1973.
Truesdale, C. W. (Calvin William), 1929-2001.
Turner, Myron.
Unterecker, John Eugene, 1922-1989.
Viereck, Peter Robert Edwin, 1916-2006.
Wayman, Tom, 1945- .
Weeks, Ramona, 1934- .
Wild, Peter, 1940-2009.
Williamson, Jack, 1908-2006.
Willis, Meredith Sue.
Yates, J. Michael.


Committee of Small Magazine Editors & Publishers.
Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines.


American literature--20th century--Periodicals.
American poetry--20th century--Peridoicals.

Document Types

Copyright certificates.
Subscription lists.


Epoch, a Quarterly of Contemporary Literature.
The Massachusetts Review.
Michigan Quarterly Review.
Poetry Northwest.
The Southern Review.
The Tulane Drama Review.
The University of Denver Quarterly.
The Western Humanities Review.

Records of --Folder List