John Mansfield Thomson, who resigned from the Peppercorn Press in June, was the founding editor of New Zealand Books. The journal began as an idea of his; in making its first impact, and throughout the first 18 months of publication, it has borne the stamp of his unmistakable editorial genius. It is his style and sophistication that readers acknowledge in the many letters of delighted appreciation we have received.
Perhaps the idea of a New Zealand reviews journal was dormant in John’s mind from 1982, when he returned home after a long and distinguished career in London as editor of Early Music, which he also founded. Certainly he had been involved in other journals – Arena and Hilltop for instance – that were part of a much earlier New Zealand literary scene. By the time he conceived New Zealand Books and began to work on it, he had established a reputation here as a musicologist with a distinctive voice, and as a writer and broadcaster of considerable influence. It was as a mature scholar and literary journalist that he approached this new enterprise.
It is rare in any community to find editors with flair, not to mention the endlessly patient industry that is needed to realize the editorial vision. We are fortunate indeed to have had the benefit, through these crucial first issues, of John’s breadth of knowledge, his skill and his fine taste in design. He will continue to support New Zealand Books by writing for us, especially in the musical and historical domain.
Notice to readers of New Zealand Books
This is the last issue of New Zealand Books to appear in this style and format. While its design has excited favourable comment from many quarters, there has been, as well, a perception that the paper is difficult to handle and file. The question of a change has been settled, not surprisingly, by consideration of cost. The next issue, due out on December 1, will be produced in A4 format, 49 pages of lighter weight paper and have a freshly designed cover.
The annual subscription will remain the same, but for six issues, appearing bi-monthly, rather than the current four. This increase in frequency will allow us to keep abreast of the wide range of New Zealand books being published, and for reviews to be more topical. The December issue will be guest edited by Andrew Mason, while negotiations are taking place to establish a paid permanent editor for the start of 1993.
There is convincing evidence that New Zealand literature, young and strong as it is, needs the encouragement of a regular, high quality reviews journal. We hope New Zealand books will continue to enjoy your interest and support.