Collection News / Penn Libraries

The Listener Historical Archive 1929-1991

The Listener was a weekly publication, established by the BBC in 1929 as the medium for reproducing radio – and later, television – programs in print. It is our only record and means of accessing the content of many early broadcasts.

With major contributors including E. M. Forster, George Orwell and Bertrand Russell, it also provided an important platform for new writers and poets; W. H. Auden, Sylvia Plath and Philip Larkin being notable examples.

As well as expanding on the intellectual broadcasts of the week, The Listener also discussed major literary and musical programs. 10% of its content was not connected to broadcasting at all, and it regularly reviewed new books. What united the often diverse articles was the BBC’s cultural mission of educating the masses.

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