In the fall of 1947, Hopkins published its first literary journal, The Hopkins Review, a thin, paperback volume that sold for 25 cents a copy. It included fiction, criticism, poetry, and other work by writers of the day. One Writing Seminars student who published his first story in the magazine was John Barth.
This fall, The Hopkins Review returns after a half-century hiatus as a joint venture of the Hopkins Writing Seminars and the John Hopkins University Press. Its inaugural issue marks the 60th anniversary of the Writing Seminars-widely regarded as one of the finest creative writing programs in the country.
The editorial board of the magazine is made up of the senior faculty of the Writing Seminars (John T. Irwin, Brad Leithauser, Alice McDermott, Jean McGarry, Mary Jo Salter, and Dave Smith), while the contributing editors of the magazine include Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee, fiction writers Max Apple, Grace Paley, and James Salter, poets John Hollander and Richard Wilbur, and critics Harold Bloom, Sir Frank Kermode, J. Hillis Miller, and Helen Vendler.
"With this first issue we have gathered works from some of our best contemporary writers," says Irwin, the Decker Professor in the Humanities, who himself has published four books of literary criticism and three books of poetry, and who has been working over the past five years to bring The Hopkins Review back into existence.
"The Hopkins Review is significant," he says, "because it goes out to the world as an advertisement that Johns Hopkins University maintains its dedication to excellence in the humanities."
The Hopkins Review joins the ranks of other noted literary journals, such as The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, and The Southern Review. It will be published four times a year and will feature fiction, poetry, memoirs, and essays on literature, film, the visual arts, music, and dance, as well as reviews of books, performances, and exhibits. The first issue contains fiction by several contributing editors, as well as Barth, Salter, Stephen Dixon, and others.
The original Review, published from 1947 to 1953, languished due to lack of funds. For Irwin, the journal's return fulfills a promise he made to himself a quarter-century ago.
"When I came back to Hopkins as chair of the Writing Seminars in 1977 from editing the Georgia Review, I said there were two things a top-ranked writing program needed—a book publishing series and a literary quarterly," he says.
He has had great success with the book publishing series. The Hopkins Press Short Fiction and Poetry Series, founded in 1979, will publish its 79th and 80th volumes this fall. "I guess it took me awhile to get to the journal," he laughs.
The journal's finances are secure for the first three years, thanks to the support of Writing Seminars alums as well as anonymous donors. But he points out that the ultimate success of the Review will depend on healthy subscription sales.
Adds Irwin, "I think there is still a place in this Internet and computer era for printed literary journals. Most writers and readers still want to experience the physicality of writing ... to have a book or magazine to hold in their hands."
On Oct. 2, the Krieger School hosted a celebration of the first issue of the new journal and the 60th anniversary of the Writing Seminars in conjunction with the Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University Press, and the Friends of the Johns Hopkins University Libraries.
For a subscription to The Hopkins Review (four issues for $25), call 1-800-548-1784.