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Harpies & Quines (Magazine, 1992-1994)


Founded by Lesley Riddoch. Shortlisted for Orwell Prize. Unsuccessfully sued by Harpes and Queens before being declared bankrupt.

Excerpt from interview (4.10.2005),

Helen Chambers: I got my first proper job which was Harpies and Quines magazine which was a feminist magazine, published in Glasgow which Lesley Riddoch was involved in starting so I did that for a while.

Vicky Woods: What was it called?

Helen Chambers: Harpies and Quines. Harpers & Queen made the big fuss and got Harpies and Quines, the biggest women's mag in the universe and it was completely free; it was great. 'Harpies' is a Scottish word and 'quine' is a Scottish word and from my editors words are 'Harpers and Queens'. The only bit that they could get them on, or attempt to get them on, was the ampersand, the '&' logo in the middle which they said was their copyright - and you can't copyright punctuation [laughter]

...And that had some writers which then were chosen and I was frightfully blas' and you look back and think 'Oh my God!'; of course I can't remember any of their names but I think Tessa Ramsford was doing poetry for it, Jackie Kay was writing for it, Horse was involved too. I had Horse's phone number [laughter] and I spoke to her once [laughter] and I would probably be horrified if I went back to it and just go 'Oh my God!'

Vicky Woods: How long did it run for?

Helen Chambers: Not long. I worked there for less than a year but it ran for a while before that and a while after that but it was incredibly tough breaking in to magazine publishing because WH Smith's has got distribution control, so they can determine where your magazine is sold; they also have a very long payment period, actually because magazines are printed so early - if you buy a magazine now it's probably got November written on the front so the whole production schedule, payment schedule is so stretched that you have to have about six months worth of print costs before you ever get any money back from them, so you have to be enormous before you change and start paying a gain but we were literally going from one month's paying the publishers to one month's getting the cash in from what we had sold, a very tight turn around and you just can't make that step from being a very small magazine to suddenly being anything with great sales in Scotland, it's just impossible, it couldn't make the jump and the way it was distributed was an amazing network of women throughout Scotland; you literally got large amounts to certain places in Scotland and women would come and actually take them all round newsagents all round Scotland, a distribution network of volunteers every month to get them throughout Scotland, it was an incredible commitment but eventually you haven't got control on the money or what's happening and then someone doesn't do it or doesn't turn up, but it was quite fun.

Esther Breitenbach, Alice Brown, Fiona Myers (1998), "Understanding Women in Scotland". Feminist Review, No. 58, International Voices (Spring), pp. 44-65


United Kingdom
55° 51' 56.2572" N, 4° 15' 26.0028" W
Names of Producers/organizers/editors/creators: 
Lesley Riddoch (founder)
Timerange, Issue-nr, ...: 
Language of project: 
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Grassroots media in Europe