James MacGibbon

James MacGibbon left his Edinburgh school to work in publishing and continued to do so with two breaks (a brief frolic in advertising and the war years) until he retired in 1984.

Diary: Fashionable Radicals

James MacGibbon, 22 January 1987

Looking back over more than fifty years of publishing, I count myself lucky to have begun by working for Constant Huntington, chairman of Putnam, a Bostonian of soldierly appearance, blessed with an air of extraordinary propriety, but a man of paradox. He was a self-confessed snob who enjoyed moving in what he called ‘the great world’, by which he meant the narrow orbit of country houses and fashionable quasi-literary circles where he believed the best writers were to be met. I never quite found my way there, but when I met Harold Nicolson he seemed the epitome of what Constant wanted for me. At the same time, Constant was a publisher whose policy was truly radical and whose achievements were never fully recognised by his contemporaries. He delighted in flouting convention – an inclination that I am sure was fostered by his wife, the anonymous author of Madame Solario.’

Letter

Socialist Claptrap

6 March 1997

P.R. Bonnett (Letters, 20 March) does not give any examples of Tobias Jones’s ‘socialist claptrap’ in his letter but I infer that he is a Conservative and disapproves of political articles being published in a literary journal. But it is these occasional articles that would make it impossible for me to give up the LRB. Conrad Russell’s brilliant piece in the same issue is a good example. I...
Letter

The Buttocks Problem

5 September 1996

Paul Foot’s Diary recalls my own experience of flogging at Fettes where Chenevix-Trench’s penchant for the cane led to his second, final, sacking. But beating was a long-established practice at that snobby Edinburgh school, and I was disappointed to hear Tony Blair, another Old Fettesian, declare in the course of a BBC radio interview, that he had been at a flogging seminary and it ‘had done...
Letter

On the Edge

10 November 1994

I was pulled up sharply by Mary Hawthorne’s use of the fashionable buzzword ‘parameter’ in her review of The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis, when she wrote that he was ‘pushing to the limit the current parameters of literary transgression’ (LRB, 10 November). In the current edition of Sir Ernest Gowers’s Plain Words we are warned that it is ‘a mathematical term which, it is safe to say,...
Letter

Fifty Years On

23 June 1994

Richard Wollheim’s account of his war experiences (LRB, 23 June) is moving and masterly. His initial pacifism, his subsequent cool courage and the closing comment on whether ‘the haphazard killing’ was worthwhile without an eventual ‘change of heart’ says all that needs to be said about the futility of war. There is much else in the article about how war dulls human reaction to brutality....

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