Hello and welcome to your favourite blog feature and mine; the Publisher 1-On-1. Giving us insight into her career and thoughts on the complexities of the publishing industry this week is Briony Willis, Subscriptions & Digital Executive at The London Magazine.
Responsible for publishing some of the most significant literature in British history, The London Magazine is the UK’s oldest cultural journal; the title has been featuring original poetry, short fiction, cultural reviews and literary essays since 1732.
So posthaste, here’s the interview — enjoy!
1) What’s your role within the The London Magazine?
Subscriptions & Digital Executive. As we have a small in-house team, we find our roles often intertwine.
2) What attracted you to the magazine publishing industry?
When I was a little girl, I found reading and writing had this therapeutic way of articulating and engaging with my active imagination. The older I grew, the more I loved escaping into a good narrative and figuring out the algorithms for a good story — at least, what a good story meant to me.
Being introduced to different cultures, subjectivities and philosophy through art, specifically literature, has significantly shaped who I am today; and so, after I finished my degree in English With Philosophy, I wanted to be a part of a community that I’ve both intentionally and unintentionally interacted with my whole life.
3) If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably pasta, but I’d experiment with the ingredients.
4) If you weren’t working in publishing, what would you be doing?
It’s hard to say, I’ve always had such a deep devotion to literature. I think I would follow one of my other loves and be a Psychotherapist.
5) Do you have an all-time favourite The London Magazine issue?
I often find myself rummaging through our vintage issues — a collection unlike that of any other similar publication — with original literature from some of my personal favourites: Sylvia Plath, Angela Carter, T. S. Eliot and Arthur Conan Doyle. In the Autumn of 2008, we published an Anglo/Indian issue which pays homage to Indian culture and philosophy which, having studied this at university, was such a delight for me to discover when I first started working for the magazine. The cover alone is a spectacle.
Although, one of my absolute favourites falls under our current editor Steven O’Brien. I’m not sure what it is exactly about the December 2012/January 2013 issue that I love so much; maybe the insightful essay by Peter Abbs on the history of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, or perhaps Suzi Feay’s beguiling poetry. Either way, it’s beautifully composed.
6) If you could live in any city, where would it be?
Nowhere specific comes to mind; somewhere green and lush, where I can be engulfed by nature.
7) What do you think will have changed in the publishing industry in 5 years?
The unique scope that comes with The London Magazine is that, being the UK’s oldest literary journal, it encapsulates the greatest social, political and cultural shifts over the last several decades. History speaks to us through the way that the content and the production of the magazine has diversified. It’s really incredible.
I think that, for our generation, the current conversation surrounding the climate crisis will (and should) have a huge impact on the production and dispersion of a lot of publications; more ethical and sustainable resourcing and momentum.
In terms of content, I believe short poetry will continue to rise as a desirable art form, following the likes of Rupi Kaur, Michael Faudet, and Nikita Gill (to name a few).
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Thanks to Briony for her captivating answers; her devotion to literature is clear for all to see!
If you’d like to take part in an upcoming Publisher 1-On-1, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.