Another deeply obscure but rather wonderful addition to my assortment of old radical papers and journals. This is the second issue of 'Oxan', dating from 'Winter 65/66,' and costing one shilling and sixpence at that time. It's sixty pages of Gestetner-style printing on foolscap, with a printed - and eye-catching - cover.
The publication was the work of the 'federation of Oxon anarchists' - which comprised 'the Oxford University and the Witney Anarchist groups, & is open to any other groups in the county to affiliate'. The leading lights seem to have been Harvey Mellar, Laurens Otter and Tony Pitcher - other contributors included Adam Buick, Robert Barltrop and Tony Allen. The articles extend to such themes as the SPGB, Sufism and LSD.
I came across this copy of 'Oxan' from one of those who produced underground - a more ambitious and impressive publication - in Oxford later in 1966. Thanks Penny!
This posting prompted a response in August 2014 from Harvey Mellar, posted here with his permission:
It was fun to see your post on OXAN as I was one of those involved with this so many years ago. I remember the writing and editing - but your comment that we must have run this off on a Gestetner reveals one of many holes in my memories of those times - perhaps this was a task delegated to someone else! I believe there were just three issues of OXAN in all. The striking cover was produced by Suzanne Duff.
I also noticed the link to your post on Underground. The people involved in the two publications were closely connected. OXAN was aiming to at least include the more political - anarcho-syndicalist - end of the spectrum, whereas Underground was at the more cultural - anarcho-individualist - end of the spectrum (that being the kind of political spectrum we had in those days).
Laurens Otter was from the Witney Anarchist Group - he and his wife were involved with CND and Committee of 100 from the earliest days, and they were amongst the organisers of the first Aldermaston marches. An internet search reveals him to have been actively campaigning in anarchist circles and writing until very recently.
Other people I remember as being involved with OXAN included Dave Mumford (now the Rt Rev David Mumford) a Christian Anarchist, the novelist and historian Robert Irwin and the poet Roger Garfitt. These last two have both written memoirs that include sections on their time at Oxford - Robert Irwin (2011) ‘Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties’ and Roger Garfitt (2012) ‘The Horseman's Word’.
Every university society had to have an official contact point and I was at that time the secretary of the Oxford University Anarchist Group which meant amongst other things that I was the person the University Proctors sent for when Anarchist graffiti appeared on the streets. As the links between left wing groups were fairly porous at the time, this role meant that I was also the person canvassed by Tariq Ali to deliver the anarchist vote as a minor addition to the general left-wing vote he attracted in his successful attempt to become the Oxford Union President in 1965.
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