Archie Turnbull

(Edinburgh University Press)

2001/152 Archie Turnbull interviewed by David Finkelstein in his home in Edinburgh on 6 November 2001

000 Went to school at Watsons. Born in Aberdeen in 1923. Mother was a teacher. Father changed to publishing in 1930 and went to work in Chambers in 1930 as educational editor and ended up as the managing director and chairman of Chambers. He retired in 1965.

032 Got 4 Highers and went to University. 1953 went to the University Press and employed by father. Read proofs at Chambers dictionary for along time, which he found boring.

064 Start in Edinburgh University Press. 1943 established to publish commercially unremunerated research work. Part of costs will be covered by text books which have a ready market. Supposed to bring reputation and influence to the University.

084 When he came they had published 12 books. Started at Chambers where he produced guidebooks. Apprenticeship of 3 years. Editorial side; boss Ian Dickie. (Goes to get book).

120 Ski trouper during war in Canada and Italy.

151 Applied for job in Edinburgh University Press (EUP). Learnt about production side of books from George Mackie (designer at EUP).

181 Started as secretary at EUP. Authors he worked with.

204 Relationship with Edinburgh University. Press made a loss every year. Located in George Square, 12 people worked there. His office.

235 George Square premises. Editors on first floor. Walter Cairns editor. Other editors.

271 Books produced. American agent in Chicago started Aldine Publishing. Published a number of American authors.

302 Photograph of editing staff. Pat Duncan editor of series on primates.

319 Good working relationship at work. Started work at 9am and worked on Saturday. No social functions.

329 Married in 1955 to Penny. Printed with R and R Clarks and Constables. First University Press in Scotland.

358 Press committee at EUP. They sanctioned what would be published.

369 Progress from author to production; reader and estimator.

390 George Mackie designer. Distinctive designs.

405 Costing books. Press committee met once a month.

415 3 months to produce a book, quick turnaround as had good editors. Book 'Second Life' by Edmund Morgan who he had met. George Mackie.

452 Few presses operating in Scotland. EUP produced very good books. Scotland had limited market for academic books so not many presses grew up.

469 EUP's books mainly by Scottish academics. David Dyke author.

479 4o books published by EUP this year. Cut back on production time; had been 12 months. Gave editors a short time scale to produce books.

489 Each editor would have 1 book to edit at a time. Primate series had 8 volumes and Flora of Turkey had 11 volumes.

500 Heavy schedule for firm. Competitor was the Scottish Academic Press was run by Douglas Grant and Glasgow University Press which had lapsed. Bid to take over GUP which was vetoed.

529 Scottish publishers disappeared. But EUP survived: the University Court approved of EUP and wanted to keep it.

544 Proud of EUP. Boss of Manchester University Press in after him and he tried to improve output. EUP didn't have fiction. Polygon was part of EUP and published fiction. Fiction was apart from the University principles.

562 Primates and Flora of Turkey series. Design.

585 Sales and EUP. Tried to sell one book to Europe for every book sold in the UK. Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish translations. Distributed books through London. Faber and Faber were their European agents.

636 He concentrated on sales. Japanese agents in Singapore who he sold the rights to produce chapters of books.

661 Publishing became much more commercial and demanded profits.

680 Outstanding individuals: Tony Snodgrass who got chair of archaeology as a direct result of a book he wrote for EUP. Most books had many illustrations.

702 Islamic surveys series ran to 12 volumes. Fundamentalists in Indonesia. Introduction to the Koran.

744 Management style; was a tough boss. Encouraged initiative. Anthology of Scottish verse encouraged by the Arts Council. This was redesigned and published with Aldine Publishing.

787 Covers very unadorned; work of George Mackie. Mackie retired in 1987 as did Mr Turnbull.

807 Proudest moment when he completed series Flora of Turkey.

822 Looks back on time at EUP fondly. Pam O'Connor was editorial and journals editor.

848 Design of EUP books changed. Design was paramount when he was there. Double Crown club.

870 Not much opposition to EUP. Involved with Robert Maxwell. Aberdeen University Press went down with Maxwell's empire. Waverley novels. Maxwell went to the National Library of Scotland and tried to get control of the Scott publications.

915 End

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