The Private Presses of New Mexico

The Laughing Horse Press

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A New Mexico literary legend, Walter Willard Johnson, better known as “Spud,” made his home in Taos and Santa Fe from the early 1920s until his death in 1968. A poet, writer, publisher, and humorist, Johnson started out at the University of California at Berkeley where he and two friends introduced Laughing Horse, a campus journal featuring literary giants of the 1920s and 30s. In 1923, after the magazine was suppressed for printing a D.H. Lawrence review with what the University claimed was “obscene” language, Johnson took over sole editorship, moved it to Taos, and continued publishing for more than a decade.

When he acquired his own treadle-operated press in 1927, he printed Laughing Horse, as well as a series of pamphlets, and a small newspaper called The Horse Fly. A major literary force, Spud Johnson worked for The New Yorker, published a volume of his own poetry with the cooperative Writers’ Editions, wrote for the Santa Fe New Mexican, spearheaded local writing groups, edited the Taos Valley News and later contributed a Sunday column to that paper.

Spud Johnson 1929 Laughing Horse The Ballad of Santa Fee Sal

The Ballad of Santa Fee Sal The Horse Fly
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The Press of Gustave Baumann Clarks Studio
Ranchos Press Rydal Press
Laughing Horse Press Seton Village Press

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