Publishing from the Margins
The Origin of Talonbooks
Talonbooks began its life in 1963 as a magazine named Talon,
published by David Robinson and some friends from a Vancouver high school. When
the founders graduated from high school and began studying at U.B.C., Talon
magazine went with them. It became a quarterly and acquired a more polished
appearance. The editors began to actively solicit material from established
writers "to give the magazine more credibility, and to give their younger writers
association with names like John Newlove, Al Purdy [and] bpNichol" (McKinnon
After two years of publishing from U.B.C., Talon magazine expanded its horizons.
Printed on the inside cover of Volume 4 Number 3 of Talon magazine is a brief
statement from the editors, announcing "TALONBOOKS - a new series of books
published jointly by TALON and VERY STONE HOUSE," along with a list of the first
titles, slated to appear in the spring of 1967.
Those first books published under the joint imprint of Talon and the small local
press named Very Stone House were collections of poetry from Ken Belford, Pierre
Coupey and Jim Brown, writers who had already been appearing regularly in Talon
magazine. Production values were high, and the quality of those initial volumes
helped convince the Canada Council to lend assistance in the form of a $600
project grant. A publishing house was born. The magazine itself survived until
1968, at which time the association with Very Stone House was discontinued and
books began to appear under the Talonbooks imprint alone.
Jim Brown had joined Talon magazine at U.B.C., jointly editing it with David
Robinson. In 1968 he was left in sole charge when David Robinson graduated from
U.B.C. and left Vancouver. A year later Jim was joined by photographer Gordon
Fidler, who sold his cameras to purchase Talonbooks' original press, an
Addressograph-Multigraph 350. 1969 also saw David Robinson's return to Talon, and
the arrival of Peter Hay upon the scene.
Talonbooks: Publishing from the Margins. © April, 1991 Michael Hayward