The Honest Ulsterman

20th January 2018

Irish poet, James Simmons, established The Honest Ulsterman, a literary magazine for new work by Northern Irish poets and others from around the world, in May 1968.  It was published continuously from then until 2003.  Early issues included work by Stevie Smith, Tony Harrison, Gavin Ewart and Seamus Heaney.

The magazine now continues in an online form (, its home page summarising its origins as follows:-

“The magazine was created by the late poet James Simmons in May 1968, when Paris was teetering on the brink of revolution and Northern Ireland civil war. It was subtitled “A Handbook for Revolution”, in response to which the RUC raided the printers, failing to comprehend that a revolution might be a poetic rather than a Republican or Marxist one. Instead, Simmons had hoped to bring about a revolution in the way we view the world, beginning with our own… “

In August 1969 Issue 16 was published, retailing for a mere three shillings, it looked like this, featuring new work by, amongst others, Gavin Ewart and Brendan Kennelly:-


Issue 16 is however notable for another reason.  On p21 it contained the first published work by budding North East hopeful, Brian Topping, a short piece titled In A Dead Factory.  In spite of the 40 year hiatus since such an auspicious literary start, more recent work has been worth the wait.  However, as a piece of North East literary history, this is still hard to beat.  Enjoy the journey!

Steve Bishop



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