Craig Taylor

Five Dials

Five Dials is a project that started in 2008. It’s a magazine published by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books, currently released in PDF form.

Five Dials features new fiction, poetry, illustrations, reportage, long interviews, very short interviews, dispatches from London and abroad, ads, ads that don’t look like ads, and archival work culled from the Hamish Hamilton backlist and, sometime, the deep Penguin archives.

Over the years we’ve published writing from Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Lydia Davis, Geoff Dyer, Don DeLillo, Harry Shearer, Paul Farley, Javier Marias, Deborah Levy and Susan Sontag.

To break out of the solitary act of reading, we tend to launch our magazine at venues around the world. We bring out the Five Dials laptop and press send. We’ve held launches in Montreal, Brooklyn, Paris, Jaipur, Sydney, the Staten Island ferry, a room at a college in Oxford, a music hall in east London, and even beneath a blue spruce. A wonderful array of people have pressed send, from Chinese dissidents to pop stars to janitors who could have been pop stars.

What’s the purpose of the magazine? We’re interested in keeping alive the idea of the general interest literary magazine. We have the freedom to pursue themes of interest. Sometimes the themes biodegrade and disappear beneath us. We publish orphans. We publish writing that won’t quite fit into other literary magazines. We publish writing about London, our town, but also dispatches from frustrated correspondents from around the world who need to flex their muscles, publish work that won’t fit elsewhere. We value partnerships with publishers in other countries.

We’ve always leaned towards an elegant, b&w design. Our first designer, Dean Allen, brought his love of type to the magazine. Antonio de Luca, who took over at issue 30, brought an epic, forceful, rambunctious visual style. We were honoured to work with the talented Nina Jua Klein. The magazine is currently designed by one the bright lights in the New York design community, Andrew LeClair.

We’ve been lucky enough to feature illustrations and artwork from Stanley Donwood, Francis Upritchard, Raymond Pettibon, Fiona Banner, Leanne Shapton, Margaux Williamson, Mark Beldan and Paul Davis.

The Five Dials website can be found here.

Illustrations by Jody Barton, Lizzy Stewart and Tucker Nichols.