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The London Magazine has a publication history spanning almost two hundred years, and has featured work by some of the most prominent names in literature, from John Keats to Hilary Mantel. In this curated selection, we share our favourite pieces from the TLM archive.

When Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007 she was the eleventh woman and the oldest person to ever receive the award. The judges marked her out as ‘that epicist of the female experience, who...
First published in The London Magazine, October/November 1989 Deep in the Scented House Deep in the scented house, a herring merchant is parting his wife's buttocks with cold hands; while she has buried her face into the pillows to watch the zebras passing gently by: they seem to float like...
From The London Magazine January 1960 There was a barrel organ playing at the corner of Torrington Square. It played 'Destiny' and ‘La Paloma’ and ‘Le Rêve Passe', all tunes I liked, and the wind was warm and kind not...
Philip Larkin (1922-1985) was a prolific poet and writer of essays, criticism and reviews during the twentieth century. Described as ‘England’s other Poet Laureate’, Larkin composed poetry that captured the spiritual angst of Britain’s post-war landscape and articulated the...
I The village lay among the great red rocks about a thousand feet up and five miles from the sea, which was reached by a path that wound along the contours of the hills. No one in Pete’s village had...
Old man, you surface seldom. / Then you come in with the tide's coming / When seas wash cold, foam- / Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung, / A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves / Crest and trough. Miles long [...]
From The London Magazine January 1961 It is always when a curtain at an open window flutters in the breeze that I think of that frail white curtain, a piece of fine gauze, which was drawn across the bedroom windows of...
Better disguised than the leaf-insect, A sort of subtler armadillo, The lake turns with me as I walk. Snuffles at my feet for what I might drop or kick up, Sucks and slobbers the stones, snorts through its lips Into broken glass, smacks its...
From The London Magazine March 1966 Two Wives and a Widow A modern version from the Middle Scots of William Dunbar If one night in the year is romantic, that night is Midsummer's Eve. Such a night, it was... about midnight, I went out...
An old lady writes me in a spidery style, Each character trembling, and I see a veined hand Pellucid as paper, travelling on a skein Of such frail thoughts its thread is often broken; Or else the filament from which a phrase is...
Before its controversial and ground-breaking publication as a book in 1822, Thomas De Quincey's autobiographical account of opiate addiction Confessions of an English Opium Eater was first published anonymously in The London Magazine across two issues in September and...
With the protagonists of their respective novels being so similar, it is perhaps little surprise that the writers Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler struck up a friendship in the 1950s. After Chandler's death in 1959, Fleming wrote a long...
This year has truly brought to the fiction scene some of the most stunning and powerful female characters. From the extreme – such as My Absolute Darling’s Turtle Alveston – to the proudly millennial – such as Sally Rooney’s characters –...
My writing life began long before I left school, and I began to leave school (frequently) long before the recognized time came, so there is no real demarcation, for me, between school and ‘professional’ life. The quotes are there...
In August 1960 The London Magazine published V. S. Pritchett’s short story ‘The Wheelbarrow’ alongside four poems by Derek Walcott and reviews by Louis MacNeice, Roy Fuller and Frank Kermode. Pritchett, himself an avid short story writer, professed that...
This sonnet was written in February 1819. Keats copies it into a letter sent to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats. Composed just days before 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', this sonnet shows clear similarities in theme...
"What we need is the magazine which will boldly assume the existence of a public interested in serious literature, and eager to be kept in touch with current literature and with criticism of that literature by the most exacting standards."
While looking through our archive recently we came across this review by Evelyn Waugh of Nancy Mitford's novel Don't Tell Alfred from 1960. Displaying a characteristic mix of erudition and passion for story telling (alongside more than a hint...
For some reason taxis are always scarce in my district. Late on a wet night, the few there were would certainly be engaged, if their drivers weren’t already sitting comfortably at home in the warm. So I was worried about getting one for M, who’d looked in earlier in the evening on his way to visit a patient. He’d seemed quite happy talking about the wonderful big Mercedes he was going to buy as soon as he had enough money, and the wonderful time we were going [...]
First published in the May 1960 issue of The London Magazine (Volume 7, No. 5). Through purblind night the wiper Reaps a swathe of water
First published in the June/July 1977 of The London Magazine (Vol. 17, No. 2)  Of course I stole the title from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you...
Jonathan Raban is an award-winning writer, author of among many others, 1974's Soft City, an early classic of psychogeographical urban writing. In February 1970 he wrote the following essay for the "Living in London" essay series, of which this...
If it is possible to concentrate the nature of a person's life into a brief sketch, then that of Anna Kavan is conveyed perfectly in her story Julia and the Bazooka, which seems to me a most symmetrical example of the art by which this obdurately subjective writer chose elements of her life and transformed them into something rich and strange and basically true. Written a year or so before her death in 1968, in a sense she even foresaw her end in this story [...]
The Greek author Lucian tells of a lusty, young aristocrat who fell for a statue of Aphrodite and, willing it to be real, attempted to defile it. He had only the experience of other boys to go on and fell short when it came to the anatomy of women; congress was a hopeless failure and he hurled himself to his death [...]

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