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At a Glance
Cyril Trevor Pinch (1888-1954) was a prominent British journalist. He lived through the era of the end of the British Empire, punctuated by two World Wars, the 1930s boom and depression, and post-war austerity. He had a wide and varied career serving as a soldier in the Mechanized Division during World War I, working his way in Fleet Street as a sub-editor for the Daily Mail, and editing provincial newspapers. He was also the editor in India of the main newspaper of the old Raj, The Military and Civilian Gazette (a paper also edited at one time by Rudyard Kipling). He wrote daily columns specializing on "foreign affairs" and was the lead writer for the short-lived broadsheet the Favourite Weekly in 1938. He published some of his early contributions under the name Cyril Trevor Pinch but most of his career he used the name Trevor Pinch. He wrote an important book about social conditions in India (particularly the exploitation of women and the failures of Indian health care) (Stark India, 1930).
His main long-term contribution came from his ability to quickly write popular verse (often with a twist) about topical and newsworthy items. His output of daily and weekly verse was widely syndicated such as that by 1937 he could claim to be one of the most published journalists in the world with thousands of verses in print. He was always coming up with innovative ideas for features and games and pushed to have major companies in the UK use his verse in advertising. He is the inventor of the "verse crossword" and of the "news quiz" (as popular as ever today on NPR in the US). By selecting new stories to "versify" he was a barometer of what interested the public, such as new fashions, the impact of new technologies such as the car, wireless, phonograph and television, the changing countryside as well as topical political themes and "moral panics". He was sensitive to how the soundscape of Britain was changing with these new technologies. He could write verse at one moment on the enduring popularity of Fish and Chips and how recorded music was dominating people's lives and at the next moment on the threat posed by Mussolini and Hitler (both of whom he savagely satirized). Particularly fascinating is the continuous run of his verse for the Yorkshire Evening News between 1940 and 1942 that provide a daily snapshot of concerns in war-torn Britain.
The collection consists of clippings, correspondence, manuscripts, memoranda, typescripts, notebooks and notes.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
Conditions Governing Use
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Cyril Trevor Pinch Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
No additions are expected.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Trevor J. Pinch, 2021
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
This collection was processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi in October 2023.
Finding aid compiled by Catherine C. Ricciardi in October 2023, but most of the information on Pinch and the collection materials was supplied by Trevor J. Pinch, the grandson of Cyril Trevor Pinch. Trevor J. Pinch also labeled and wrote notes on some of the materials in the collection.