Book reviews: Now & Then



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Now & Then was the house journal of the London publisher Jonathan Cape. Michael Howard, in his readable and most interesting history of the company Jonathan Cape, Publisher (Jonathan Cape, 1971), gives a useful summary of the magazine's history:


In September 1921 appeared the first issue of Now & Then, 'a journal of books and personalities' to be issued three or four times a year. To Charlotte Shaw Jonathan [Cape] wrote that it was


a glorified circular . . . an attempt to establish a closer relationship between the book-buyer and the publisher. Something a little different in the way of publicity is I think wanted, and I hope this will be it.


I am badly in need of some help for future issues, and I wonder if you or Mr Shaw have anything to say with regard to books or publishing that I could print in the next number?


Nothing was forthcoming on that occasion, but with reviews by other Cape authors (but not only by them) and by reprinting introductions or extracts from Cape books, Now & Then built up an impressive list of contributors over the years.


Seventy-six issues of Cape's house journal appeared before the acute wartime production crisis of 1944 caused a fourteen-year interval in publication. In them are to be found reviews, articles, poems, by or about the works of a wide and varied company, from Bernard Shaw to Rose Macaulay. Now & Then provided a platform for occasional pontificatings about circulating libraries and the state of trade, a showcase for short stories and other samplings of new books, and often an opportunity for Cape authors to get to know each other's work and lend a helping hand by reviewing it. . . .


Now & Then was mailed directly to readers who had sent in the inquiry postcards enclosed in every book published by Jonathan Cape. A subscription of threepence a copy was voluntary, but a surprisingly high proportion of regular readers – at times nearly half – preferred to pay. In either case they were required to complete an order form after six issues if they wanted to be kept on the mailing list for the next year or two, and in this way the list was kept up to date and very much alive. Within a few years the circulation equalled that of some literary weeklies and, although it was never possible to measure its effectiveness as advertising, there is no doubt that Now & Then did much to achieve 'that closer relation between book-buyer and the publisher' which was its declared aim.


Jonathan Cape was, of course, HW's publisher for a number of years, beginning with The Pathway in 1928. In addition to the three reviews below, Now & Then also published HW's Introduction to Cape's reprints, in their attractive 'Travellers' Library' series, of Richard Jefferies' The Amateur Poacher, Wild Life in a Southern County and The Gamekeeper at Home (the same Introduction was in each). This, too, is given below. (For further information regarding Jefferies' influence on HW, see Richard Jefferies.)



HEMINGWAY, Ernest: Death in the Afternoon (Jonathan Cape, 1932)

JEFFERIES, Richard: The Amateur Poacher and Wild Life in a Southern County (Jonathan Cape, 1934); The Gamekeeper at Home (Jonathan Cape, 1935)

MANHOOD, H. A.: Nightseed (Jonathan Cape, 1928)

VOIGT, F.A.: Combed Out (Jonathan Cape, 1929)




Autumn 1928


reviews nowandthen manhood1


reviews nowandthen manhood2


reviews nowandthen manhood3




 As can be seen, the years have not been kind to the original dust wrapper of the inscribed copy of Nightseed that Manhood presented to HW:


reviews manhood1


reviews manhood2


reviews manhood3


HW was initially much impressed by Manhood's writing, and indeed sent a copy of Nightseed to John Galsworthy, whose enthusiastic reply is given below. However Manhood's talent proved to be one that shone only briefly, and he is a forgotten writer today. He visited Shallowford, and later the Norfolk Farm, on several occasions, usually completely unannounced, expecting free fishing and shooting, and generally becoming an irritating nuisance to HW. He is scathingly portrayed in A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight as 'A. B. Cabton'.


reviews manhood4


reviews manhood5



Spring 1929


reviews nowandthen voigt1


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Winter, 1932


reviews nowandthen hemingway1


reviews nowandthen hemingway2


reviews nowandthen hemingway3



Winter 1934


reviews nowandthen jefferies1


reviews nowandthen jefferies2


reviews nowandthen jefferies3


The cover of this issue:


reviews nowandthen jefferies4







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