In 2017, long before hand sanitiser and face masks had become a staple of daily life, Kenneth Roy and I hatched a plan. We would comb our way through every edition of the Scottish Review – print (i.e. the early editions) and online – and select the best for an anthology celebrating 25 years of the magazine.
The first edition of SR was created in a small office in Bank Street, Irvine, in January 1995. It had the theme of 'Homecoming' and a subscription to this new quarterly journal would have set you back the princely sum of £18 (including post and packaging). It was the first of 49 print editions. In 2001, Kenneth set up the educational charity, Institute of Contemporary Scotland, and SR became its official journal, with the office relocated to Kilmarnock. The last print edition was published in 2012, by which time SR had established itself online, having launched the website on 15 February 2008.
As with most projects, the anthology was started enthusiastically and by the summer of 2018 we had made exceptional progress. However, when Theodore Roosevelt said 'Nothing worth having comes easy', or words to that effect, he wasn't kidding. We soon charged full speed into an inevitable obstacle... technology... or rather the lack of it. The 1990s don't seem long ago but memory sticks hadn't been invented (they wouldn't appear until 1998) and floppy disks were practically extinct, so each selected piece had to be carefully typed out from scratch. The knacky typing skills of Fiona MacDonald, Rachel Sharp and Barbara Millar were enlisted to reproduce over 100 pieces.
Then the unthinkable happened. Kenneth was diagnosed with terminal cancer in October 2018. He died just one month later. The project was put to one side – to be continued at a later date. A special thank you must go to my colleague and friend Fiona MacDonald, whose design and editorial expertise has been vital in the project getting back on the road.
And now, albeit later than planned, I'm delighted to present to you the first three issues of The Best of 25 Years of the Scottish Review
. Each can be downloaded in pdf form or as an ebook. Full details on how to do so are given here
. It's worth noting that this collection doesn't aim to be uniform. Earlier pieces are much longer than those written for the website. Some issues will make you laugh, others perhaps bringing a tear to your eye; some will bring back memories, and others will provide new material previously unpublished on the website.
The first ebook covers Hogmanay
; the second Four Investigations by Kenneth Roy
; the third Crime and Punishment
. There will be 12 issues in total, all being released in the next year, and all free to download. Collect the set!
In Clonakilty, God help us
(Issue 3: Travel
), Kenneth states that: ‘Journalists are not remembered'. They should be – not only journalists but those thinkers who enrich our lives with their words and ideas. And so it seems only fitting that each issue in this series should be dedicated to SR's founder and my much missed friend Kenneth Roy, but also to the considerable number of other contributors who are no longer with us. They won't be forgotten and this record of their thoughts, inspiration, research and humanity will live on.
Thank you – our subscribers and Friends of SR – for your continued support and readership in this bleak year. I hope that you will enjoy our literary gift! In the sage words of Professor Anthony Seaton, I wish you a happy but safe Christmas and a vaccinated New Year. SR will return to normal service on Wednesday 13 January with our first edition of 2021.
to download issues 1-3 of The Best of 25 Years of the Scottish Review
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