Barbican Press has an “impressive portfolio of beautifully crafted and utterly transgressive fiction” – The Morning Star. Our list holds poetry, drama, writing for children, and compelling nonfiction too, including vivid tales of maritime communities.
The publisher is the writer Martin Goodman. He knew what sort of publisher he would like to find for his own work, and so created it for others. The Press was born in Plymouth – hence the name ‘Barbican Press’ for the Barbican in that city, and a sense that a Barbican is a strong and protective space in which writers with a fighting spirit can take shelter.
Many of our titles were written as the creative elements of PhDs in Creative Writing. Universities can offer safe harbour for writers, challenging them with regular and expert feedback, giving them years in which their books achieve full voice without the necessity to compromise. Understandably, mainstream publishers tend to seek work that resembles other books that have made money. Breakout originality is harder to place. Those are the books we give a home to.
‘In the late 70s and 80s, Picador excited me,’ Martin says. ‘I sought out their revolving racks and found the likes of Richard Brautigan. American writers had thrown off the shackles that still restrained a lot of British writers. The London publishers John Calder and Peter Owen gave me wonderful living models of what an independent publisher could do. I’m especially grateful to Peter Owen for bringing me James Purdy and Paul Bowles. There is tremendous vitality among independent publishers in Britain now. What sets Barbican Press apart is pretty much my taste. Dark, but not as violent as you might find in the excellent Serpent’s Tail, and with a dash of humour. Inventive, but not as experimental as find great homes with the likes of Galley Beggar Press because I’m fond of story. Edgy, queer, LGBT+ because that’s where I come from and it’s harder to find good books that share that outlook. Being white male British I welcome anything that shakes my smugness and am not likely to be pulled into accounts of domestic angst. We’re in an era of climate catastrophe and enforced migrations so I like my nature writing to be more urgent than pastoral. I prefer writing to be clean rather than lyrical. A new and keen interest is autofiction, particularly confident statements of marginal lives. My especial dream for the Barbican Academy is that it fosters more such voices into being.’