A Profile of Duncan Glen - Helena Nelson

(This article is available as a pdf file, for free download from the HappenStance shop and at the end of this article)

Note: Duncan Glen died in September 2008. The profile that follows appeared in the first issue of Sphinx. Glen was a warm supporter of the magazine, a helpmeet and adviser living not far away, invariably generous of his time, his good humour and his experience.

He was a champion of small press publishing.


~The Literary TASKS of DUNCAN GLEN, being an outline of his life as PUBLISHER, printer, GRAPHIC DESIGNER, essayist, local historian, photographer, biographer, editor and POET~

Born in Cambuslang in 1933, Glen served his time as a compositor, later attending Edinburgh College of Art. His academic career (ultimately Professor in Graphic Design) was combined with a lifetime’s work as an independent publisher. Akros is still publishing books, pamphlets and a magazine of character—ZED20. In 2000, Paisley University awarded Glen an honorary doctorate.

IN 1963 DUNCAN GLEN, AGED 31 and at that time working as an editor for Gibson’s in Glasgow, bought himself an ‘Adana’ platen and two cases of type. A trained compositor, he set to work on his own essay, The Literary Masks of Hugh MacDiarmid. He set the type on his lap, sitting in the living-room. He printed the copy on the dining-room floor, on his knees. The portrait illustrations of the great poet were hand-drawn onto the printed sheets. This was Glen’s ninth limited-edition publication and the first (but not the last) done entirely at home.