It's Dr Jim from now on as Napier honours underground arts legend

A legend of the arts underground who co-founded the Traverse Theatre Club has received an honorary doctorate.

Jim Haynes with his honorary degree after a special ceremony at Edinburgh Napier University yesterday

Producer, publisher and renowned Paris dinner party host Jim Haynes was presented with the accolade at a ceremony at Napier University.

Louisiana-born Haynes, 84, made his name in Edinburgh by creating Britain’s first paperback bookshop in the late 1950s and co-producing the 1962 Edinburgh International Writers’ Conference.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The following year he co-founded the Traverse Theatre Club with John Calder and Richard Demarco where, as artistic director, he established the policy that it would be a theatre for writers and only produce new plays. The Traverse and Haynes’s efforts contributed to the eventual formation of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In 1966 Haynes moved to London where he co-founded the International Times alternative newspaper with Barry Miles and John Hopkins. The following year he set up the Drury Lane Arts Lab, which hosted familiar faces such as David Bowie and John Lennon and spawned a new generation of artists, filmmakers, writers and directors.

After relocating to Paris in 1969, Haynes taught media studies and sexual politics at the University of Paris for 30 years, and found more fame with his open house Sunday dinners, which featured in an international TV advert for After Eight mints. As publisher he brought forth work by authors such as Beat Poet Ted Joans and John Calder.

Haynes was due to be honoured by the university last year but was unable to travel due to ill health, so he received his Honorary Doctorate of Arts in a special one-off ceremony at the Craiglockhart campus.

He said: “I am deeply honoured to be recognised by Edinburgh Napier, and hope to make a positive contribution to students’ experience, the life of the university and to Edinburgh in the years to come.”

Prof Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “We are delighted to honour a man who has made such a significant contribution to the arts.”