Czechoslovak Writer Publishing House Collection
The extensive Czechoslovak Writer Publishing House Collection deposited in the Museum of Czech Literature illustrates the publishing activities of one of the most important postwar Czech publishers from its establishment in 1949 until its end in 1997. The materials allow for the reconstruction of the negotiations between authors, editors and publishing managers, and it frequently provides the only evidence of literary works that were never published. This collection provides a picture of censorship in socialist Czechoslovakia and how the publishing industry functioned under a Soviet-style communist dictatorship.
Strahovské nádvoří 1, 118 38 Praha 1 - Hradčany, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Czechoslovak Writer - Publishing Archive
Provenance and cultural activities
The Czechoslovak Writer (Československý spisovatel) was one of the most prominent postwar Czech publishing houses. It was established in the spring of 1949 through the merger of several private companies and cooperatives, and operated until as late as 1997. From its establishment until 1970 it was subordinate to the Union of Czechoslovak Writers, a professional organization that brought together Czech and Slovak writers and which had a relatively strong economic base thanks to its income. When the Union of Czechoslovak Writers was closed down at the turn of the 1970s because it had been one of the intellectual centres of the Prague Spring, it was subordinated to the Czech Literary Fund. After the fall of the Communist regime, the Czechoslovak Writer publishing house found it difficult to cope with the market economy and soon ran into economic difficulties, which resulted in its liquidation in 1997.
The extensive Czechoslovak Writer collection is currently under state ownership. In February 1993 the then Czechoslovak Writer publishing director, Zdeněk Pochop, entered into an agreement with the director of the Museum of Czech Literature to take over the archive, on the basis of which the entire corporate archive at the publishers was transferred to the ownership of the Museum of Czech Literature, a memory institute overseen by the Czech Ministry of Culture.
Description of content
The collection is made up of corporate documentation (contracts with authors, artists, printers, etc.), as well as a large number of published and unpublished manuscripts (totalling 76 boxes), a clippings archive and an extensive library with a total of 17,312 published books. The most valuable materials with regard to literary history and the history of censorship are the 230 boxes containing readers’ reports on published and unpublished books. These can be used to reconstruct the negotiations between authors, editors and publishing managers, and it frequently provides the only evidence of literary works that were never published. This exceptionally large collection does not yet have a complete inventory, though the section which includes the readers’ reports is arranged alphabetically and is available to researchers. This collection provides a picture of censorship in socialist Czechoslovakia and reconstructs how the publishing industry functioned under a Soviet-style communist dictatorship.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
- legal and/or financial documentation: 1000-
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Hrivňáková, Olga, ed. 1989. Čtyřicet let práce pro českou knihu. Praha: Československý spisovatel.
Author(s) of this page
- Šámal, Petr
Přibáň, Michal. 2014. "Československý spisovatel," in Česká literární nakladatelství 1949–1989, edited by Michal Přibáň, 69–70. Praha: Academia.
Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature (LA PNP), Prague, Documents on the collection 228 - Czechoslovak Writer (Československý spisovatel).