Mission and Aims

New Contrast is devoted to publishing the best of poetry and prose, art, reviews and interviews from both local and international authors.



When Contrast was established in 1960, Jack Cope as Editor announced that it might be considered an impertinence to start a literary magazine at that time, but asserted that if it were to survive, it would have to succeed on its own merits. 2000 copies of the first issue were printed. Contrast was published by the South African Literary Journal (Pty) Ltd, a situation which is still in place after 53 years, although modified by changes to South African company law. Cope edited the magazine for the next twenty years on a non-paid basis, and the magazine attracted sufficient support from enough people (and donors) to stay afloat through some difficult times. It developed a healthy reputation and launched the careers of many of South Africa's most notable writers. It also attracted criticism from some who felt that it was too Cape based. By 1970, the number of magazines printed was down to about 1000 copies an issue. Geoff Haresnape took over from Jack at the end of 1980 when Jack went to England. Geoff continued the magazine and in turn handed over to Douglas Reid Skinner in 1989, when Contrast was re-launched as New Contrast following the merging of Contrast and UpStream. New technologies were brought into play to keep costs down, and for a number of issues, New Contrast also published a compact called The South African Literary Review. When Douglas resigned on his departure to England in 1992, there was a shift in the way New Contrast was run, with multiple editors, editorial collectives, and other ways of running the magazine being put in place. Michael King was appointed sole Editor in 1996 and he ran it for four years before stepping aside to run the business side of New Contrast.

Read more:

Introductory notes by Jack Cope in Contrast № 1
Notes by Michael King in New Contrast № 100

The first five years of the 21st century were unsettled times for New Contrast. A number of people stepped forward to edit the magazine and then found other pressures preventing them from settling into the role. Small editorial teams developed which managed to spread the load a bit, but they also dispersed the focus of the magazine. This practice did however mean that a much wider number of people made their contributions to the magazine. However, there was a loss in momentum and the magazine suffered financially. Subscriptions dropped to about 150 per year, which was hardly viable. When Hugh Hodge was appointed in 2007, large scale fundraising was successful in restoring some calm, and with it came an increase in subscriptions as well. By 2011, there were over 320 paid up annual subscriptions. For the first time in its history, we were able to pay the Editor and Business Manager a small stipend. With the sad death in 2011 of Stephen Watson, our chief fundraiser (amongst other roles), the flow of donations stopped, and the small payments which were being made to the Editor and the Business Manager came to an end. At present, no payments are made to the Editor or the Business Manager, and so the financial crisis we had faced has been averted. The small scale of the subscription revenue will most likely prevent any future remuneration being considered, and as with most small literary magazines, the editing and management of New Contrast is likely to remain a voluntary effort.



To be announced


Past Editors


  1960 – 1980 Jack Cope
  1980 – 1989 Geoff Haresnape

New Contrast

  1989 – 1992 Douglas Skinner
  1992 – 1994 Editoral Collective variously including: Francis Faller, Gus Ferguson, Jeremy Gordin, Daniel Hugo, Michael King, Mike Nicol, Gill Gallimore, Ingrid de Kock, Mtiutuzeli Matshoba, Di Paice, and Stephen Watson
  1995   Evan Aupiais, Damon Galgut, and Daniel Hugo
  1996 – 1999 Michael King
  1999 – 2000 Arthur Attwell, Megan Hall, and Kim McClenaghan
  2000 – 2002 Kim McClenaghan, Greg Cahl, and Michael King
  2002   Stephen Watson, Greg Cahl, Jane Commin, Ron Irwin, and Tom Eaton
  2003 – 2004 Jane Commin, Tom Eaton, Ron Irwin, and Sarah Johnson
  2004   P R Anderson, Tom Eaton, and Sarah Johnson
  2004 – 2005 Tom Eaton
  2005 – 2006 Roy Robbins
  2007 – 2011 Hugh Hodge
  2012 – 2015 Michael King
  2016 – 2016 Meg Vandermerwe
  Jan 2017 – Sept 2020 Michèle Betty
  Jan 2021 - current Masande Ntshanga


Legal Status

Contrast was published by the South African Literary Journal, a proprietary company limited by Guarantee. New Contrast was set up In 1989, and was also published by the SALJ. Following the 2008 Companies Act, the South African Literary Journal was set up as a Not for Profit Company without Members. At present, there are four directors; Keith Gottschalk (Chair), Wamuwi Mboa, Colleen Higgs, Archie Swanson.



New Contrast can be bought from the following bookstores:

  Clarke's Books, 119 Long Street, Cape Town
  The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland Street, Cape Town
  Kalk Bay Books, 124 Main Road, Kalk Bay
  Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville, Johannesburg
  Blank Books, Woodstock
  Exclusive Books, Cavendish
  Exclusive Books, Stellenbosch
  Protea Bookstores, nationally

Current and back issues can also be purchased direct from the Editor/Business Manager, who can be contacted on the addresses listed on the contact page.