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Granta 142
Editor Sigrid Rausing
Categories Literary magazine
Publisher Sigrid Rausing
Total circulation
almost 50,000
Year founded1889;133 years ago (1889)
First issueRelaunch: 1 September 1979
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based in London
ISSN 0017-3231

Granta is a literary magazine and publisher in the United Kingdom whose mission centres on its "belief in the power and urgency of the story, both in fiction and non-fiction, and the story’s supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real." [1] In 2007, The Observer stated: "In its blend of memoirs and photojournalism, and in its championing of contemporary realist fiction, Granta has its face pressed firmly against the window, determined to witness the world." [2]


Granta has published twenty-seven laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature. [1] Literature published by Granta regularly win prizes such as the Forward Prize, T. S. Eliot Prize, Pushcart Prize and more. [3]


Granta was founded in 1889 [4] by students at Cambridge University as The Granta, edited by R. C. Lehmann (who later became a major contributor to Punch ). It was started as a periodical featuring student politics, badinage and literary efforts. The title was taken from the medieval name for the Cam, the river which runs through the town, but is now used only for two of that river's tributaries. An early editor of the magazine was R. P. Keigwin, the English cricketer and Danish scholar; in 1912–13 the editor was the poet, writer and reviewer Edward Shanks.

In this form the magazine had a long and distinguished history. The magazine published juvenilia of a number of writers who later became well known: Geoffrey Gorer, William Empson, [5] Michael Frayn, Ted Hughes, A. A. Milne [6] Sylvia Plath, Bertram Fletcher Robinson, John Simpson, and Stevie Smith.


During the 1970s the publication, faced with financial difficulties and increasing levels of student apathy, was rescued by a group of interested postgraduates, including writer and producer Jonathan Levi, journalist Bill Buford, and Peter de Bolla (now Professor of Cultural History and Aesthetics at Cambridge University). In 1979, it was successfully relaunched as a magazine of "new writing", [7] with both writers and audience drawn from the world beyond Cambridge. Bill Buford (who wrote Among the Thugs originally as a project for the journal) was the editor for its first 16 years in the new incarnation. Ian Jack succeeded him, editing Granta from 1995 until 2007.

In April 2007, it was announced that Jason Cowley, editor of the Observer Sport Monthly, would succeed Jack as editor in September 2007. Cowley redesigned and relaunched the magazine; he also launched a new website. In September 2008, he left when he was selected as editor of the New Statesman.

Alex Clark, a former deputy literary editor of The Observer , succeeded him as the first female editor of Granta. [8] In late May 2009, Clark left the publication [9] and John Freeman, the American editor, took over the magazine. [9]

As of 2006, Granta's circulation was almost 50,000. [10]


In 1994, Rea Hederman, owner of The New York Review of Books, took a controlling stake in the magazine. In October 2005, control of the magazine was bought by Sigrid Rausing.

Granta Books

In 1989, then-editor Buford founded Granta Books. [11] Granta's stated aim for its book publishing imprint is to publish work that "stimulates, inspires, addresses difficult questions, and examines intriguing periods of history." Owner Sigrid Rausing has been vocal about her goal to maintain these standards for both the magazine and the book imprint, telling the Financial Times , "[Granta] will not publish any books that could not potentially be extracted in the magazine. We use the magazine as a yardstick for our books.... We are no longer going to look at what sells as a sort of argument, because it seemed to me that we were in danger of losing our inventiveness about what we wanted to do." [12] Authors recently published by Granta Books include Michael Collins, Simon Gray, Anna Funder, Tim Guest, Caspar Henderson, Louise Stern and Olga Tokarczuk.

When Rausing purchased Granta, she brought with her the publishing imprint Portobello Books. [13] Granta Books and Portobello Books are distributed by The Book Service in the UK. [14] Granta Books are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services in the US. [15]

Granta Best of Young British Novelists

In 1983, Granta (issue #7) published a list of 20 young British novelists as names to watch out for in the future. Since then, the magazine has repeated its recognition of emerging writers in 1993 (issue #43), 2003 (issue #81) and 2013 (issue #123). In 1996 (issue #54), Granta published a similar list of promising young American novelists, which was repeated during 2007 (issue #97). In 2010 Granta issue #113 was devoted to the best young Spanish-language novelists. Many of the selections have been prescient. At least 12 of those identified have subsequently either won or been short-listed for major literary awards such as the Man Booker Prize and Whitbread Prize.

The recognition of Adam Thirlwell [16] and Monica Ali on the 2003 list was controversial, as neither had yet published a novel. [17] Thirlwell's debut novel, Politics , later met with mixed reviews. Ali's Brick Lane was widely praised.[ citation needed ]

Dan Rhodes contacted others on the 2003 list to try to persuade them to make a joint statement in protest against the Iraq War, which was gaining momentum at the time. Not all the writers responded. Rhodes was so disappointed he considered stopping writing, but has continued. [18]

Granta Best of Young American Novelists

Granta Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists

Granta Best of Young Brazilian Novelists

From left to right: Antonio Prata [pt], Javier Arancibia, Leandro Sarmatz, Julian Fuks, Antonio Xerxenesky, Vinicius Jatoba, Miguel del Castillo and Emilio Fraia Escritores.jpg
From left to right: Antonio Prata  [ pt ], Javier Arancibia, Leandro Sarmatz, Julian Fuks, Antonio Xerxenesky, Vinicius Jatoba, Miguel del Castillo and Emilio Fraia

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  1. 1 2 About Granta Magazine.
  2. Simon Garfield, "From student rag to literary riches", The Observer, 30 December 2007.
  3. Prizes Granta Magazine.
  4. "Top 50 Literary Magazine". EWR. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  5. John Haffenden, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  6. J. P. C. Roach, "The University of Cambridge: The modern university (1882-1939)", in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3: The City and University of Cambridge (1959), pp. 266–306; and F. A. Rice, The Granta and its contributors, 1889-1914, London: Constable, 1924.
  7. Elise Blanchard. "London-Based Lit Mags". The Review Review. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  8. Stephen Brook "Granta names Alex Clark as first female editor", The Guardian , 28 May 2008.
  9. 1 2 Oliver Luft, "Alex Clark steps down as Granta editor", The Guardian, 29 May 2009.
  10. "Granta: A new chapter at the original literary journal Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine ", The Independent , 11 December 2006 (accessed 2 March 2007).
  11. "About Granta Books - Granta Books". Granta Books. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  12. Isabel Berwick, "Lunch with the FT: Sigrid Rausing", The Financial Times, 6 November 2009.
  13. About Portobello Books
  14. The Independent Alliance
  15. "Publishers We Work With - Book Distribution | Ingram Content Group" . Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  16. "Lists, lists, lists..." Archived 9 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine New Writing |Granta Magazine, 19 November 2010.
  17. "Review: Politics by Adam Thirlwell". The Guardian. 30 August 2003.
  18. 3am Interview: "A SMALL BUT SATISFYING KICK IN BLAIR'S NUTS: AN INTERVIEW WITH DAN RHODES", 3 AM Magazine, July 2003, accessed 14 March 2013.

Further reading