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|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Headquarters location||Manchester, England|
|Distribution||NBN International (UK)|
Independent Publishers Group (US)
Sula Books (South Africa)
|Key people||Michael Schmidt|
In 2000 it was named the Sunday Times millennium Small Publisher of the Year. Four of its authors have received Nobel Prizes, nine have received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and six have received Pulitzer Prizes, among many other honours. Carcanet publishes a comprehensive and diverse list of modern and classic poetry in English and in translation.
Carcanet was originally a literary magazine, founded in 1962. Michael Hind, a member of the original editorial board, recalls how the idea was to 'collect together and publish as a periodical poetry, short fiction, and "intelligent criticism of all the arts"; there were to be both student and senior members' contributions.' The intention was to link Oxford and Cambridge universities. Its name is an English word which means "a collar of jewels", diminutive of "carcan" (an obsolete word for a collar used for punishment), pronounced "kar'ka-net". (A much earlier use of the word was in The Carcanet, an anthology published in 1828.)
The magazine Carcanet had fallen on hard times by October 1967 when Michael Schmidt, a newly arrived undergraduate at Wadham College, Oxford, took it over. Times got harder still. In 1969 as a swansong the magazine produced a few pamphlets: poetry by new writers from Britain, India and the United States, and a book of translations. The reviews were encouraging. In 1970–71 Carcanet Press became Ltd. The swansong continues, the bird having upped sticks and left Matthew Arnold's (and Robert Graves's) South Hinksey, Oxford, for Thomas de Quincey's Manchester.
Carcanet enjoys Arts Council England support. Its list includes, alongside new writers from all over the world, major authors from the twentieth and earlier centuries.
Carcanet was conceived at Pin Farm, South Hinksey, Oxford, in 1969 by Peter Jones, Gareth Reeves and Michael Schmidt, and Grevel Lindop was instrumental in suggesting the Fyfield Books series. In 1971, when Michael Schmidt was appointed Gulbenkian Writing Fellow at the University of Manchester, it moved to 266, Councillor Lane, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, and in 1975 it came of age, taking a tiny suite of offices in the Corn Exchange, Manchester. However, the 1996 Manchester bombing impacted heavily on the workings of Carcanet Press, forcing it to move to temporary offices in Manchester House, Princess Street, and then across the river Irwell to Blackfriars Street, Salford, where it stayed in a kind of exile for six years, before moving back into the centre of Manchester. It now resides in Cross Street, between where Mrs Gaskell's husband's Unitarian Cross Street Chapel used to stand, and the little graveyard of St Ann's Church where Thomas de Quincey's forebears are buried, and in whose font de Quincey was himself christened.
Besides the main poetry list, Carcanet is also home to a diverse set of imprints:
The Oxford Poets imprint, formerly the poetry list of Oxford University Press, was established in March 1999. The Fyfield Books imprint includes selections from the great European and American classics from ancient to modern times. Carcanet also publish a range of inventive fiction and literary criticism alongside the Lives and Letters series and the Aspects of Portugal imprint.
Carcanet issues the literary magazine PN Review, which appears six times a year.
- "Carcanet Press - Trade Information". Retrieved 2017-12-04.
- Davidson, Thomas & Geddie, J. Liddell (1901) Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language. London: W. & R. Chambers; p. 140.