The Times Literary Supplement

The Times Literary Supplement (or TLS, on the front page from 1969) is a weekly literary review published in London by News UK, a subsidiary of News Corp.

The Times Literary Supplement
EditorStig Abell
CategoriesLiterature, current affairs
Frequency50 per year
PublisherNews UK
Year founded1902
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon


The TLS first appeared in 1902 as a supplement to The Times but became a separate publication in 1914. Many distinguished writers have contributed, including T. S. Eliot, Henry James and Virginia Woolf. Reviews were normally anonymous until 1974, when signed reviews were gradually introduced during the editorship of John Gross. This aroused great controversy "Anonymity had once been appropriate when it was a general rule at other publications, but it had ceased to be so", Gross said. "In addition I personally felt that reviewers ought to take responsibility for their opinions".

Martin Amis was a member of the editorial staff early in his career. Philip Larkin's poem Aubade, his final poetic work, was first published in the Christmas-week issue of the TLS in 1977. While it has long been regarded as one of the world's pre-eminent critical publications, its history is not without gaffes, it missed James Joyce entirely and commented only negatively on Lucian Freud from 1945 until 1978, when a portrait of his appeared on the cover.[1]

Its editorial offices are based in The News Building, London and edited by Stig Abell, who succeeded Peter Stothard in 2016.[2]

The TLS has included essays, reviews and poems by John Ashbery, Italo Calvino, Patricia Highsmith, Milan Kundera, Philip Larkin, Mario Vargas Llosa, Joseph Brodsky, Gore Vidal, Orhan Pamuk, Geoffrey Hill and Seamus Heaney, among others.[3]

Many writers have described the publication as indispensable; Mario Vargas Llosa said, "I have been reading the TLS since I learned English forty years ago. It is the most serious, authoritative, witty, diverse and stimulating cultural publication in all the five languages I speak".

In literature

The Times Literary Supplement has appeared in works of fiction. One of the most backhanded of such mentions appears in the English translation of Samuel Beckett's novel Molloy (1953), in which Molloy relates that:

... in winter, under my greatcoat, I wrapped myself in swathes of newspaper, and did not shed them until the earth awoke, for good, in April. The Times Literary Supplement was admirably adapted to this purpose, of a neverfailing toughness and impermeability. Even farts made no impression on it.

Another example is in George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying, in which the central character Gordon Comstock's collection of poetry was reviewed by the Times Lit. Supp.

In Kathy Acker's novel, Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream (1986), the eponymous character laments:

They've separated us. The evil enchanters of this world such as the editors of TLS or Ronald Reagan...

Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream (1986), p. 101


See also


  1. "20.07.11 London W11," Times Literary Supplement, 29 July 2011: 3.
  2. Greenslade, Roy (12 February 2016). "Sun managing editor Stig Abell to become editor of the TLS". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  3. TLS writers past and present, Times of London, n.d. Archived 17 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Derwent May Critical Times: The History of the "Times Literary Supplement", 2001, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-00-711449-4 - The official history
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