The first number of Direction was published in May 1952. Without mentioning other established literary magazines, the inaugural editorial declared that Direction was 'devoted exclusively to the encouragement of a youthful and vigorous literature in Australia, honest criticism and discussion for which there is at present no medium.' Although the editorial proposed a quarterly publication, only four issues were published during the following three years.
The first number included contributions from Barrie Reid, Max Harris, Judith Wright, Vincent Buckley and Peter Cowan. Subsequent numbers added contributions from Dylan Thomas, James McAuley, Vivian Smith, Laurence Collinson, A. D. Hope, Brian Elliott, Bruce Dawe and Barry Oakley. The magazine was received warmly by most critics, however, Clem Christesen, in Meanjin's 'Uneasy Chair', expressed some doubt whether Australia's literary climate could sustain another literary magazine.
Avoiding 'nativism', Direction sought to promote an Australian literature 'in which the fact of Australia and European tradition work together to enrich each other.' Time between issues was used to accumulate contributions, and editor L. H. Davison suggested in the fourth issue that much time was needed to collect contributions for the fifth. However, a fifth issue of Direction was never published.