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On Publishing Diaries

Kathleen Burk discusses the publishing of history books.

I have a shameful confession to make: I have a newly-acquired sympathy with commercial publishers. This is, of course, an absurd attitude, particularly since as everyone knows publishing firms are run entirely by accountants. My attitude has been transformed because I myself became (albeit in a very small way) a publisher (as co-founder of The Historians' Press).

It all started in a pub. Fellow historian John Turner and I were grousing after a seminar about the way bad books can prevent good ones from being published. We were particularly concerned about the indifference of the publishing industry to most editions of political diaries and correspondence; with the decline in research funds, it seemed reasonable that publication of important sources would provide a service and find a market. After some discussion, I distinctly remember saying 'We should do something', not perhaps worthy of engraving in stone, but certainly marking the advent of a lot of work on the part of John and myself, and of another interested historian John Ramsden, whom we immediately roped in.

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