Reader 54

Reader 54 Summer Issue is now on sale (£6.95), featuring novelist Salley Vickers (The Cleaner of Chartres); Guardian writer Erwin James; novelist, biographer and critic Margaret Drabble (the 2000 Oxford Companion to English Literature and The Radiant Way, 2014), together with philanthropist and retired IT businesswoman Dame Stephanie Shirley, who writes about her flight as a young girl from Nazi Germany.

You will find poets Julie-ann Rowell, John Write, Andrew Forster, Niall Firth and Jennie OwenSean Elliott provides the latest in our long-running series ‘Poet on His (or Her) Work’, with a discussion of his poem ‘Margate’ (there is a ghost in this story). Writer and scholar Drummond Bone provides the fiction. There are all of our regular writers, including another great piece from Ian McMillan (BBC Radio 3’s The Verb) and our usual recommendations, quizzes and familiar voices.

The Interview in issue 54 is with the campaigning barrister Shauneen Lambe who talks about her work with prisoners on death row in Louisiana, and her present involvement with the UK charity Just for Kids Law.


You can buy a single issue or subscribe to the Reader magazine (and save pennies in the long run) by following this link: The Reader Magazine Subscription





It has been the guiding principle of the Reader magazine that new and established writers should find a home side by side on our pages with no distinction drawn between them. The quality of the writing is what matters. And in the same spirit we want our readers to feel close to the quick of the matter. We called our magazine ‘The Reader’ because of the vital relationship a reader has to literature, bringing life to the writers’ words. In that sense, unknowingly, a blog-like spirit of sharing has always been at the heart of what we have been doing these last eighteen or so years in making the ink and paper version of the magazine.

The blog is the perfect opportunity to take the idea further. We hope that readers old and new will visit often to talk about the reading matters that move, vex or rouse them.

You will find a range of additional articles and features to enliven the print version of the magazine with further discussion and audio, though it is intended that the content will also stand alone for readers who prefer their reading in pixels:

The Main Event. In the light of the prison book ban, we focus on Erwin James’s essay, posted here in full. Erwin writes about the profound effect a book on Alfred Dreyfus had on his state of mind while serving a life sentence for murder.

Beat the Ban! We asked our contributors to No.54 to recommend a book to send to an imaginary friend in prison. Click here.

Audio. Julie-ann Rowell reads her two fine poems ‘Photograph by Shomei Tomatsu’ and ‘The Demolition of Mary Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church’. It’s our intention to slowly build up an archive of poetry readings — destined to be one of our favourite features of the blog.

Reader 54 web cover


Out Now! In Reader 54…

Issue 54 of the magazine is now on sale, featuring new poetry by Julie-ann Rowell, featured here, John White, Andrew Forster, Jennie Owen and Niall FirthSean Elliott provides the latest in the sequence of our series Poet on His Work looking at his poem ‘Margate’ and providing a remarkably even-toned account of living in a haunted house.

New fiction comes from Drummond Bone in the shape of two stories from a longer sequence, which focuses ‘on the problems of pleasure in our new century’. Erwin James writes about how a book gave shape to a profound dream while he was in prison.  Philanthropist and retired IT business woman, Dame Stephanie Shirley writes about being a refugee from Nazi Germany, while Margaret Drabble gives a personal response to Arnold Bennett, and Shauneen Lambe in a wide-ranging interview talks about working with prisoners on death row in Louisiana. Salley Vickers reveals how she just may owe her life to a poem.

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‘The Reader is one of the best things to thump through the letter box… full of pithy, passionate and precise things’

Seamus Heaney


Reader 50 Cover