Roanoke College

History

Back

The History of the Roanoke Review

As it appeared in the 30th Anniversary Issue, courtesy of the current editor and author of this piece, Robert Walter.

In the Fall of 1967, the Roanoke Review began publication. Henry Taylor, then an instructor of English at Roanoke College, and Edward A. Tedeschi, a senior English major, produced the first issue, which included works by Lee Smith, R.H.W. Dillard, Malcolm Cowley, William Jay Smith, and other now-noted writers.
The Review's premier issue was a modest effort whose future was as uncertain as that of so many other small literary journals. When Henry Taylor left Roanoke College for the University of Utah in the spring of 1968, the Roanoke Review continued under the editorship of another student, Walker Erhardt. Upon Walker's graduation, the Review continued because of the perseverance of Leslie Parsons, instructor of English. In 1972, Robert Walter assumed editorship and continues in that position.

The founder of the Roanoke Review, Henry Taylor, is now a professor of literature and co-director of the creative writing program at American University in Washington, D.C. In 1986, Henry was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his book The Flying Change. Edward Tedeschi is presently an advertising executive in New York City. In a recent letter to this editor about his editing experiences on the first issue of the Review, Ed called my attention to a problem which all editors fear yet have to face: Malcolm Cowley's name was misspelled on the cover of the inaugural issue. Walter Erdhart is now a plastic surgeon living in Albany, Georgia. Leslie Parsons is now in manufacturing in Tennessee.

Though a rather modest journal, the Roanoke Review has continued to serve as a creative outlet for many gifted writers from across the nation and, indeed, from around the world. Our circulation, though limited, places copies in many major college and university libraries - Yale, UNC-Chapel Hill, Hollins College, Virginia Tech, and UNLV, among others.

Among contributors who have appeared in our pages is Ernest Kroll, a former State Department official, one of whose poems is inscribed in Washington, D.C.'s Freedom Plaza. Norman Russell, a retired professor of biology and creative writing at Central State University, Edmond, OK, frequently shares his poems emerging from his Native American heritage. Chad Walsh has published with us on several occasions and spent a semester here at Roanoke College as Poet-in-Residence. William H. Blackwell, a Jackson, MS, realtor who preferred writing and playing jazz clarinet, entertained and enlightened us with his poems and stories. His wife and son have also appeared in our pages. So many other fine creative artists have made this editor's work a joy because they have become friends and supporters of our efforts over the years.

Postscript from the 30th Anniversary Issue, by Henry Taylor, contributing editor, founder of the Roanoke Review, and Pulitzer Prize winning author.

When I left Roanoke College in the spring of 1968, I had no idea how long the Roanoke Review would continue to appear. I had worried quite a bit about where to find a successor to Ed Tedeschi, with whom I had developed a fine partnership in crime; he had performed superbly, and been a rare treasure to work with. Knowing that I would be moving on, I sought an unusually responsible student, and found him in Walter L. Erhardt, who had written extremely well in a couple of my classes. Since he was a chemistry major headed for medical school, he was a little nonplussed at my suggestion, but he took the job. He is now a plastic surgeon in Albany, Georgia, and Treasurer of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. He believes it is not a coincidence that he is also editor of Plastic Surgery News.

I have been aware for years that Robert Walter has devoted countless hours to the magazine; he has my deep gratitude for that, and for his having invited me to take part in assembling this issue. It has been something of a sentimental journey. I am glad the magazine is still with us, and I wish it everything.