The Blue Review
Date of Publication:
May 1913 – July 1913
Place(s) of Publication:
Frequency of Publication:
Less than 500 per issue
7 1/2″ x 10 1/2”, 90 pages with 10 pages of advertising split at the beginning and end, text dominated, without columns and with a focus on poetry, fiction and reviews, very few sketches or art reprints.
John Middleton Murry
Libraries with Complete Original Issues:
Modernist Journals Project (online); E.H Little Library, Davidson College
The Blue Review was the less-experimental successor to John Middleton Murry’s Rhythm. After the decline of its publisher in 1911, Rhythm and its editorial board (Murry and assistant editor Katherine Mansfield) found hope under the financial auspices of Sir Edward Marsh, a wealthy intellectual, private secretary to Winston Churchill, and editor of two anthologies of Georgian Poetry. Marsh’s financial influence quickly overshadowed Mansfield and Murry’s artistic vision, and by 1913 the bold energy that produced Rhythm had softened into plans for a magazine of more traditional art. From its first publication in May 1913 The Blue Review was primarily an outlet for Georgian School artists (Brooker 320). It gave poets like Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater, Rupert Brooke and Walter De la Mare a forum in which to publish traditionally metered, rural verse, which came to be labeled pejoratively “Georgian,” as its relevance did not extend beyond the reign of King George V and its inspiration came not in creative departure, but in the tradition of the Romantics (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1).
Georgian poetry was not, however, all that The Blue Review offered. Each issue featured writers independent of the Georgian School, thanks in large part due to the vision of John Middleton Murry (Brooker 321). Murry never strayed from his belief in art whose tone and rhythm reflect “the strong things in life,” over the aestheticized, archaic, and self-indulgent. And though his influence dwindled due to Marsh’s financial backing, Murry and The Blue Review helped develop the oeuvres of two great Modernists, D.H. Lawrence (“The Soiled Rose”) and Katherine Mansfield (Brooker 321).
In the scheme of cultural study and literary history, The Blue Review is an example of what Peter Brooker calls, “the complex internal character” of a publication (Brooker 315). The Blue Review contained works by traditionalists alongside the works of two arch-modernists. Its content constitutes a magazine without strict theoretical allegiance. It contained works that illustrated the endurance of Victorian tastes and the lull amidst experimental energies while also printing works emblematic of the experimentation carried over from Rhythm and other avant-garde periodicals.
While no explicit manifesto exists for The Blue Review, the following is a quotation from W.L. George’s “The Esperanto of Art” published in the first issue. It expresses the importance of rhythm and harmony in a work of art, a notion inherited from The Blue Review‘s previous incarnation, Rhythm.
“Now I do not suggest that the musician should study Praxiteles and himself carve marble; he is better employed expressing his own passion in the key of C. But I do feel that if technical terms are the preserve of each form of art, general terms are not; that continuity, rhythm, harmony, to quote but a few, have a precise meaning, that they are inherent to no form of art because they are inherent to art itself” (George 29).
John Middleton Murry (Aug. 6, 1889 – Mar. 13, 1957)
Editor: May 191 – July 1913
Born in Peckham, England, John Middleton Murry, along with associate editor Katherine Mansfield, was the primary editor of Rhythm, The Blue Review, and The Signature. An enthusiast for Fauvism and the experimentation of Vorticist poetry, Murry founded Rhythm with Oxford friend Michael T.H. Sadler in 1911 as a forum for these energies. The magazine ran until March 1913 and included works by Ezra Pound, along with international works of art by Picasso, Cezanne, and Wassily Kandinsky. Highly committed to publishing experimental art, Murry sought works that had a definitive rhythm reflective not of stylization but of “the strong things in life” (Brooker 321). Murry maintained this outlook even after the financial collapse of Swift and Co. publishing forced him to seek funding from Sir Edward Marsh, whose Georgian tastes turned the avant-garde Rhythm into the more conventional The Blue Review. Though predominately a forum for writers of traditional verse, The Blue Review did quietly continue Murry’s support for modernist experimentation, publishing two works by D.H. Lawrence (“The Soiled Rose” and and essay “German Books: Thomas Mann”) , and four works by Katherine Mansfield (“Epilogue I: Pension Seguin”, “Epilogue II”, “Millie” and “Epilogue III: Bains Turc”). However, after Rhythm, Murry’s contributions diminished. He published only two small reviews in in the three-issue run of The Blue Review and his presence was negligible in The Signature (Brooker 320). Murry would return to the forefront of experimental modernist publication later when he became editor of The Athenaeum in 1918 and published his seminal work The Problems of Style in 1922 (Spartacus 1).
Katherine Mansfield (Oct. 14, 1888 – Jan. 9, 1923)
Associate Editor: May 1913 – July 1913.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Katherine Mansfield moved to England in 1908 and began a relationship with John Middleton Murry in 1911, around the time the latter was beginning his first magazine Rhythm. Attracted to his vision of an art form that is true to the rhythms of life and the expressiveness non-traditional form, Mansfield began a collaborative relationship with Murry that put her into the role of assistant editor by Rhythm’s fifth issue (Mansfield House, 1). She remained on the editorial board until the magazine concluded in its final manifestation, The Signature. She was a regular contributor throughout the three runs, publishing short fiction and poetry translations that helped her develop the oblique, symbolic, and deceptively indirect (often plot-less) narrative style for which she was known (Mansfield House 1).
“The Busy Heart”
“The Theatre: Caps, Bells, and Legs”
Walter De la Mare
“The Song of the Mad Prince”
“Theatres in the Air”
“Lines Spoken at the Opening of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Feb 15, 1913”
“German Books: Thomas Mann”
“Epilogue I: Pension Seguin”
“Epilogue III: Bains Turc”
“Fiction: A New Book by Charles Marriott”
Brooker, Peter. “Harmony, Discord, and Difference.” The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines. 1st ed. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
“Georgian Poetry.”Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 06 Oct. 2010.
George, W.L. “The Esperanto of Art.” The Blue Review, 1 (May 1913), 28-36.
“John Middleton Murry.” Spartacus Educational. 2010. Spartacus Educational Online. 06 Oct. 2010 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jmurry.htm>
Scholes, Robert and Sean Latham. “Modernist Journals Project.” (n.d.): MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 6 September 2010
“Katherine Mansfield.” The Katherine Mansfield House. 2008. Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society Inc. 06 Oct. 2010.
“The Blue Review” compiled by Hamilton May (Class of ‘11, Davidson College)