Envoy 1949-1951 | English | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Envoy 1949-1951

During its twenty-month existence, Envoy, A Review of Literature and Art, published the work of a broad range of writers, Irish and others. The first to publish J. P. Donleavy, Brendan Behan's first short stories and his first poem, and an extract from Samuel Beckett's "Watt," Envoy was begun by John Ryan, a Dublin artist, who was editor and prime mover. Among the distinguished associate editors were Valentin Iremonger, Irish diplomat and poet who served as poetry editor, J. K. Hillman, Michael Huron, and Owen Quinn.

In December of 1949, Envoy was inaugurated in response to Irish trade and censorship restrictions, which had forced many writers to seek publication outside their homeland. Though the Envoy Publishing Company's goal of publishing books died with the magazine in July, 1951, the short-lived enterprise succeeded, with the publication of Valentin Iremonger's prize-winning book of poetry Reservations, and with its lively magazine, in breaching some of the barriers of Irish publication, as well as providing outstanding prose, poetry, criticism, and reviews of the contemporary Irish art scene. Among Envoy contributors were Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Anton Chekhov (in translation), Padraic Colum, Anthony Cronin, Aidan Higgins, Pearse Hutchinson, Maria Jolas (in translation), Patrick Kavanagh (who wrote the monthly "Diary"), Mary Lavin, Ethel Mannin, Lionel Miskin, Brian O'Nolan, Edward Sheehy, Francis Stuart, Patrick Swift, Arland Ussher, Thomas Woods, and many others.

The collection consists mainly of published and unpublished manuscripts and letters of a literary nature to Envoy. Other correspondence includes incoming business letters and out-going letters, which are organized into separate files in alphabetical order. Included in this collection is a scrapbook of clippings related to the journal. Published manuscript material has been organized by issue in chronological order from its founding issue in December, 1949, to its demise in July, 1951. Twenty-one issues of Envoy (two copies of the February 1951 issue) and a copy of the June 1942 issue of The Bell complete the collection.