The Listener History Archive

The Listener was a weekly publication, established by the BBC in 1929 as the medium for reproducing radio - and later, television - programmes 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 programmes. 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.

Having chronicled the transformative rise of radio and television, The Listener finally ceased publication in 1991, just on the dawn of the internet age.