The Anvil: The Proletarian Fiction Magazine
Later united with Partisan Review to form Partisan Review and Anvil
Date of Publication:
May 1933 – November 1935
Place(s) of Publication:
Frequency of Publication:
Varied between 850 (Summer 1934) and 4,000 (3:13)
The Anvil Press, Moberly, Missouri.
7 1/2″ x 10 1/2.” 30 pages of fiction and poetry. Some illustrations, typically small political cartoons or article accompaniments rather than art reproductions. No. 1- 10 published without Vol. numbers, No. 11-12 printed as Vol. 2, No. 13 as Vol. 3.
Walter Snow (March/April 1935 – Oct./Nov. 1935, no. 10 – 3:13)
Clinton Simpson (May/June 1935 – Oct./Nov. 1935, 2:11 – 3:13)
Michael Gold (October/November 1935, 3:13)
Libraries with Complete Original Issues:
Harvard University; Brown University; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin, Madison; Indiana University
New York: AMS Reprint Co., 1963.
Jack Conroy founded The Anvil in May, 1933, as an outlet for the Midwestern farming and working community to express their opinions in the midst of stifling living conditions. A laborer himself during the Great Depression, Conroy began publishing The Anvil, a magazine of fiction, out of his hometown in Moberly, Missouri, where economic and natural forces had combined to oppress the working classes.
Although The Anvil and its editors did not take a definitive political stance, its contributors were strongly proletarian. Many glorified the Soviet Union in their stories and advocated its philosophies’ extensions into America, with hopes that a leftist society would rectify the problems their working class experienced. Conroy did not explicitly propose a militant changeover, but he did create a forum for writers to advocate such proletarian values.
The Anvil did not receive contributions from more well-known authors, with the exception of a small number of prose pieces and poems by Langston Hughes. The magazine preferred the vigor of the average man, and it offered America’s working class a chance to speak their minds. Louis Adamic captured the true purpose of The Anvil when he described Jack Conroy as “one of the leaders in the movement which aim[ed] to demonstrate ‘that the life of common workers and the stench of their sweat and toil are as authentic literary material as the vicissitudes of society’” (14).
Jack Conroy describes the mission of the magazine in the inaugural issues of The Anvil:
“Contributors to The Anvil, successor to The Rebel Poet, and members of the Proletarian Writers’ League, successor to The Rebel Poets, need not be Communists, of course. My associate editors and I are going to try to present vital, vigorous material drawn from the farms, mines, mills, factories and offices of America. We’ll not devote much space to theoretical problems. For theoretical guidance, we refer you to The New Masses and International Literature.”
Jack Conroy, “The Anvil and its Aims.” 1:1 (May 1933): 4.
Later in the magazine’s run, the establishment of the Anvil League of Writers suggested a shift in the publication’s philosophy:
“The League also will try to improve the literary standard of THE ANVIL and to develop promising young writers. It will urge authors not only to deal with proletarian material but also to create revolutionary stories by bringing out the implications of the ceaseless class struggle between capital and labor, the internal conflicts within the classes as seen from a revolutionary viewpoint.”
“National Organizational Committee.” No. 9 (Jan. 1935): 30.
Jack Conroy (Dec. 5, 1898 – Feb. 28, 1990)
Editor: May 1933 – Oct. / Nov. 1935
Born in a coal-mining camp near Moberly, Missouri, Jack Conroy experienced early tragedy when his father died in a mining explosion in 1909, which forced Conroy to leave school at the age of thirteen to work in a car shop. After World War I he returned to school, taking classes at the University of Missouri, Columbia in the fall of 1920. After losing his job because of the Great Railroad Strike of 1922, Conroy traveled the Midwest looking for low-paying jobs. An avid reader, he began to write from the perspective of a laborer and sought to open a forum for others to do so as well. During the Depression-plagued ’30s, he edited The Rebel Poet from 1931-32 and founded The Anvil in 1933, which merged with the Partisan Review in 1935. In that same year, however, Conroy clashed with Communist party leaders who helped finance the magazine, and lost his editorial privileges. Despite an effort to reenter the magazine scene with the Chicago-based New Anvil in 1939, the magazine did not gain popularity and closed the next year.
“Within the City”
“A Holiday in Texas”
“To the Manlovers of Our Local Four Hundred”
B. C. Hagglund
“The One-Man Revolution”
“Ballad of Lenin”
“Dr. Brown’s Decision”
“Will They Believe Us?”
“For A Dead Speaker”
“July Twenty-eight, 1932”
H. H. Lewis
“Down the Skidway”
John C. Rogers
“When the Sap Rises”
“Not Men Alone”
“Barn in Wisconsin”
“Something Still Lives”
“I’ll Steal First”
“Battle in Embryo”
Henry George Weiss
“To the Soviet Union”
“Child of the Dead and Forgotten Gods”
Adamic, Louis. “Nothing to Lose.” Saturday Review of Literature 12.14 (1935): 14.
Cheyney, Ralph, and Jack Conroy, eds. Unrest: The Rebel Poets’ Anthology for 1929. London: Arthur H. Stockwell, Ltd., 1929.
Anvil: The Proletarian Fiction Magazine. 1935. Microfilm. No. 1 – 13. New York: New York Public Library.
Gale, Robert L. “Conroy, Jack.” American National Biography Online. Feb. 2000. Davidson College Lib., Davidson, NC. 26 Oct 2004.
Hoffman, Frederick J., Charles Allen, and Carolyn F. Ulrich. The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1947.
Larsen, Erling. “Jack Conroy’s The Disinherited or, The Way It Was.” Proletarian Writers of the Thirties. Ed. David Madden. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1968.
Murphy, James F. The Proletarian Movement: The Controversy over Leftism in Literature. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.
Nelson, Cary. Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910-1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.
Phelps, Wallace. “Form and Content.” Partisan Review 11.6 (1935): 31-39.
“The Anvil” compiled by David Tulis (Class of ’05, Davidson College)