Key Information

Reference code





  • 1961-2000 (Creation)

Level of description



40 boxes, c35 files

Scope and content

Records, 1961-2000, relating to the original and new series of the periodical Modern Poetry in Translation and associated projects. The material pertains to languages including Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Yiddish. Publications comprise issues 1-44 of the magazine, 1965-1982, covering poetry from a wide range of sources including countries in Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, Asia and Russia; MPT Year Book (1983); MPT programme for Poetry International 71 (1971); Poetry World (1986); and an Anthology of Twentieth Century Russian Poetry (1974), edited by Max Hayward and Daniel Weissbort. There are also files of translated poems, undated, from sources including various countries in Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. The bulk of the records comprises correspondence, covering all aspects of MPT 's organisation including discussion with publishers, printers and distributors; decisions on the content of future issues and work by guest editors; correspondence with translators on specific projects and the general theory of translation; and many letters from translators offering their services, demonstrating the wave of enthusiasm of which MPT was part. The first series of correspondence, covering 1961 to 1984, relates to issues 1-6 (1965-1969, when MPT was published by Cape Golliard) and includes files on particular countries and related translators; organisations including the Arts Council and Gulbenkian Foundation; individuals including Ted Hughes and his involvement with MPT ; distribution in Britain and America. The second series, 1966-1984, relates to the independent production of the magazine from 1969 and also to the Year Book (1983), and comprises some files on particular countries and their translators but also more general files covering aspects of production and admininstration over particular periods. The third series, 1964-1984, relates to translation projects in which Daniel Weissbort, editor of MPT , was engaged outside MPT . Subsequent deposits relate largely to the revival of MPT from 1992 and include papers on MPT , 1978-2000, among them translations, correspondence, reviews, biographical information and ephemera; papers relating to Poetry World after its launch in 1986; files relating to new series issues of MPT , comprising correspondence and translations; printed material including issues 1 and 2 of the new series, 1992; and working papers of Professor Norma Rinsler, 1993-1994 and undated, relating to the MPT new series and the Second International Poets Festival in Jerusalem, 1993, and including typescript poems and information on poets.

System of arrangement

The archive of the original MPT received by King's College London Archives were somewhat disorganised, reflecting the editor Daniel Weissbort's lack of secretarial help, his shuttling between London and Iowa, and MPT 's struggle for funds. The correspondence was arranged to reflect an original order evidenced by file numbers and colours. The records of the original acquisition are arranged in the following series: publications, including issues of MPT in date order; translations, arranged alphabetically by country; correspondence relating to issues 1-6, arranged alphabetically by country, topic or correspondent; correspondence relating to issues 7-44, initially arranged alphabetically by country but latterly more general in content and covering a range of topics over a particular period; and correspondence on related projects. The later deposits are discrete.

General Information

Name of creator

Biographical history

Modern Poetry in Translation ( MPT ) was launched in 1965 by joint editors and owners Daniel Weissbort and the poet Ted Hughes. Its policy was to overcome language barriers and enable English-speakers to benefit from previously untranslated poets from other countries, finding talented poets and matching them with translators. The launch of MPT came at a time of increasing interest in international poetry and a flourishing of translation. Literal translations (word for word) were favoured over parallel equivalents, as revealing the poetry of the original and the individuality of the poet rather than the translator. The initial emphasis was on post-war Eastern European poets, many of whom were hardly known in Britain at the time but have since become world famous, including for example Vasko Popa, Miroslav Holub and Zbigniew Herbert. The scope of MPT quickly expanded to cover poetry from all over the world. Many issues were devoted to the detailed study of poetry from a single country, planned several years in advance to allow time to gather and translate the poetry and set up specialised distribution lines to the countries. The magazine was also concerned with debate about the art of translation, publishing special articles and a 'Theory Issue' ( MPT 41-42). A long association developed with distinguished translators such as Anne Pennington and Stanley Kunitz, whilst a host of others wrote to offer their services. Issues 1-6, 1965-1969, were published by Cape Golliard, and issues thereafter were published independently. Owing to increasing absorption in his own work, Hughes withdrew from editorship, and by 1971 Daniel Weissbort was sole editor, working with advisors who possessed specialist knowledge of a particular language, and guest editors for some issues. In the 1970s MPT developed a close association with the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa, USA, and in 1973 Daniel Weissbort accepted a position in its teaching faculty. Many IWP students contributed to MPT and in 1974 an entire issue was produced from their work. Small circulation, difficulty in reaching the American market and rising printing costs dogged MPT throughout its 18-year history. Despite subsidies from the Arts Council of Great Britain, the magazine often found it difficult to pay its contributors, although some translators refused payment. In 1982 Daniel Weissbort was treated for cancer and withdrew from the editorial demands of the magazine. It was decided to produce MPT annually as a yearbook in collaboration with Carcanet Press. Hughes agreed to write the introduction. A volume was published in 1983 as the first of what was intended to be an annual series, but in 1986 it was relaunched under Anvil Press as Poetry World , with a wider remit aiming to include poetry not just from the modern age. For further information see the introduction by Daniel Weissbort to MPT Year Book (1983) (Ref: MPT1/39) and the introductions by Daniel Weissbort and Ted Hughes to Poetry World (Ref: MPT1/41). MPT was revived under the aegis of the Department of French, King's College London, with Professor Norma Rinsler and Daniel Weissbort as editors, in a new series begun in 1992.

Custodial history

The archives of the original MPT were purchased from Daniel Weissbort in 1987 with the assistance of a grant from the Friends of the National Libraries. From 1995 Professor Norma Rinsler made further deposits reflecting recent editions.

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archives.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Finding aids

A typescript list of the original acquisition (Ref: MPT1-3) is available in the reading room at King's College London Archives. The later deposits are uncatalogued.

Existence and location of originals

Off-campus collection

Please note: We require 7 days notice to retrieve this collection as part, or all of it, is held off-campus. Read more ›

Related descriptions

Alternative identifier(s)

Genre access points

Rules and/or conventions used

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


Archivist's note

Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Source: list at King's College London Archives.

Accession area

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