Michael Joseph Publishers


The publishing house Michael Joseph Ltd was founded by Michael Joseph on 5 September 1935. It was initially set up as a subsidiary of Victor Gollancz, which invested £4,001 4s. 0d. Gollancz and Norman Collins acted as directors with Joseph as managing director. Both publishing houses could save money by sharing premises, packers and accountants. Michael Joseph founded his house at a volatile economic time when many other publishing houses were folding or suffering serious financial difficulties.

Gollancz and Joseph clashed on the direction of the publishing house. Joseph found it difficult to meet Gollancz’s over-ambitious financial targets. Furthermore they did not agree on the type of material the house should publish. In the end, after Gollancz tried to censor Sir Philip Gibbs's Across the Frontiers for political reasons, he bought out Gollancz in 1938.

Joseph managed to build up an impressive list of authors, such as H. E. Bates, C. S. Forester, Monica Dickens, and Richard Llewellyn. He also published a book by Bertrand Russell and D. F. Karaka’s autobiographical book about his time in England, I Go West (1938). Other authors on Joseph’s list included Paul Gallico, Richard Gordon, Vicki Baum, Joyce Cary, and Vita Sackville-West. His publishing house was bought out by Penguin and is now an imprint on its list.

Published works: 

Ghose, Sudhin N., And Gazelles Leaping (London: Michael Joseph, 1949)

Karaka, D. F., I Go West (London: Michael Joseph, 1938)

Lin, Yutang (ed.), The Wisdom of India (London: Michael Joseph, 1944)

Muspratt, Eric, Going Native (London: Michael Joseph, 1936)

Relton, Max, A Man in the East: A Journey through French Indo-China (London: Michael Joseph, 1939)

Russell, Bertrand, Which Way to Peace? (London: Michael Joseph, 1936)

Shanani, R. G., Indian Pilgrimage (London: Michael Joseph, 1939)

Younghusband, Francis Edward, A Venture of Faith: Being a Description of the World Congress of Faiths held in London in 1936 (London: Michael Joseph, 1937)

Secondary works: 

Dudley Edwards, Ruth, Victor Gollancz: A Biography (London: Victor Gollancz, 1987)

Joseph, Michael, The Adventure of Publishing (London: Allan Wingate, 1949)

'Obituary: Michael Joseph', The Times (17 March 1958)

Room, Adrian, ‘Joseph, Michael (1897–1958)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Date began: 
01 Jan 1935
Key Individuals' Details: 

Michael Collins, Victor Gollancz, Michael Joseph.

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Secker & Warburg


Secker & Warburg is a publishing company formed in 1936 by the merger of Martin Secker's publishing firm with Frederic Warburg's. The company took an anti-facist and anti-Soviet stance and published among other writers George Orwell (after his departure from Victora Gollancz), Cedric Dover, D. H. Lawrence, C. L. R. James, Frank Moraes, and Ram Gopal. In 1951 the company became an imprint of Heinemann, later merged with Harvill and, as Harvill Secker, is now part of the Random House group.

Date began: 
01 Jan 1936
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Bodley Head


The Bodley Head is a publishing firm founded by Charles Elkin Mathews and John Lane. It originally started as an antiquarian bookshop. It was named after Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the firm used the head of Bodley as its insignia. In the early 1890s, the Bodley Head embodied the spirit and aestheticism of the period by specializing in stylishly decorated limited editions of belle-lettres, and by publishing representative works of the English fin-de-siécle, such as Oscar Wilde’s plays and Aubrey Beardsley’s controversial periodical The Yellow Book. It took on many young poets, notably those of ‘The Rhymers’ Club’, a group of London-based poets which included W. B. Yeats, Arthur Symons and Ernest Rhys. After the partnership between Mathews and Lane ended in September 1894, Lane, who retained the firm’s insignia, continued to expand the Bodley Head. Lane died in 1925, and his nephew, Allen Lane, took over the business.

From 1932 to 1935, V. K. Krishna Menon was an editor at the Bodley Head. He launched a series called the Twentieth Century Library, which included Art by Eric Gill, Democracy by J. A. Hobson, Design by Noel Carrington, The Jews by Norman Bentwich, Broadcasting by Raymond W. Postgate, The Home by Naomi Mitchison, Property by H. L. Beales, The Black Races by J. H. Drieberg, The Theatre by Theodore Komisarjevsky, The Town by David Glass, Money by M. A. Abrahams, Communism by Ralph Fox and Women by Winifred Holtby. Menon was Jawaharlal Nehru’s literary agent in London, and the Bodley Head published Nehru’s Autobiography in 1936. In 1936, Bodley Head went into liquidation, and the following year it was bought by a consortium of the publishers George Allen & Unwin Ltd, Jonathan Cape, and J. M. Dent. Lane left the Bodley Head in 1936 to set up Penguin Books, and appointed Menon as the editor of Pelican in 1937.

In 1957 the firm was bought by Max Reinhardt, who successfully expanded the business, publishing authors such as George Bernard Shaw, Charles Chaplin, G. V. Desani, William Trevor, Maurice Sendak, Muriel Spark, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Sam Haskins and Alistair Cooke. Graham Greene, one of the firm’s authors, became its director. In the 1970s, the Bodley Head joined Jonathan Cape and Chatto & Windus. In 1987, it was sold to Random House, which continues to publish children’s books under the Bodley Head imprint. It was relaunched by Random House as a non-fiction imprint in April 2008.

Published works: 

Desani, G. V., All About H. Hatterr (1970)

Joyce, James, Ulysses (1936)

Nehru, Jawaharlal, Jawaharlal Nehru: An Autobiography with Musings on Recent Events in India (1936)


Extract from an advertisement for the Twentieth Century Library series, New Stateman and Nation (5 May 1934), p. 167

Other names: 

John Lane

Secondary works: 

Brown, R. D., ‘The Bodley Head Press: Some Bibliographical Extrapolations’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 61 (1967), pp. 39-50

Lambert, J. W. and Ratcliffe, Michael, The Bodley Head 1887-1987 (London: The Bodley Head, 1987)

May, J. Lewis, John Lane and the Nineties (London: The Bodley Head, 1936)

Nelson, James Graham, The Early Nineties: A View from the Bodley Head (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: Distributed by Oxford University Press, 1971)

Nelson, James Graham, Elkin Mathews: Publisher to Yeats, Joyce, Pound (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989)

Stetz, Margaret D., England in the 1890s: Literary Publishing at the Bodley Head (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990)

Stetz, Margaret D.,  ‘Sex, Lies, and Printed Cloth’, Victorian Studies 35 (Autumn 1991), pp. 71-86


The Twentieth Century Library is a new series of books on problems of to-day viewed in the light of the changing ideas and events of modern times. Life in all its varieties of expression is essentially dynamic: the economic structure, by which current forms of cultural manifestations are conditioned, is in a constant state of flux and must inevitably change however drastically certain sections of society may try to prevent it from doing so. The books in this series, each of which is written by a well-known author with expert knowledge of his subject, are intended to explain for the information of the intelligent man or woman the effect of modern thought of the metamorphosis which is affecting every aspect of our civilisation to-day. A 16-page prospectus is available explaining the purpose and scope of the Library and giving a detailed description of each volume.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: Grahame Greene, John Lane, Charles Elkin Mathews, V. K. Krishna Menon, Max Reinhardt.


This extract, which outlines the aim and scope of the Twentieth Century Library series, was published alongside the announcement of the publication of the first two volumes of the series, Democracy by J. A. Hobson and The Jews by Norman Bentwich. The logo of the series was a version of Laocoon, symbolizing Man ‘fighting with the twin snakes of War and Usury’, and was designed by Eric Gill, who wrote Art for the series. Each volume was sold at 2s 6d.


Grant Allen, Aubrey Beardsley, Max Beerbohm, Arnold Bennett, Walter Blaikie, Robert Bridges, Agatha Christie, G. V. Desani, Ernest Dowson, Florence Farr, Richard Le Gallienne, Kenneth Grahame, J. A. Hobson, Lionel Johnson, James Joyce, Allen Lane, Wyndham Lewis, Naomi Mitchison, Vladimir Nabokov, Jawaharlal Nehru, Gertrude Stein, George Bernard Shaw, The Sitwells, Arthur Symons, Ezra Pound, Rex Warner, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats.

Date ended: 
01 Jan 1990
Archive source: 

GB 6 RUL MS 2606, Archives of The Bodley Head Ltd, Special Collections Services, University of Reading

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Chatto & Windus


Chatto & Windus, a leading publisher of books from the Victorian era, became an important platform for South Asian Anglophone writers. Founded in 1855 by John Camden Hotten, it was sold in 1873 to his junior partner Andrew Chatto, who took on the poet W. E. Windus as a partner. Chatto first published the Indo-Irish writer Aubrey Menen’s novel The Prevalence of Witches (1947). The company continued to publish his works, and went on to publish a significant number of South Asian writers in English. Chatto & Windus’ interest in publishing South Asians appears to date from its acquisition of a controlling interest in Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press (founded in 1917) in 1947, given the latter's close connection and support of South Asian Anglophone writers. Cecil Day Lewis, one of Hogarth’s prize authors, became an editor at Chatto and edited Attia Hosain’s novels. Putnam, later Bodley Head, merged with Chatto in the late 1960s. Chatto then merged with Jonathan Cape (1969) and Virago (1982). The companies retained editorial control until Random House purchased the group in 1987.

Published works: 

Chaudhuri, Nirad, The Continent of Circe (1965)

Hosain, Attia, Phoenix Fled (1953)

Hosain, Attia, Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961)

Markandaya, Kamala, Two Virgins (1974)

Menen, Aubrey, The Prevalence of Witches (1947)

Menen, Aubrey, Dead Man in a Silver Market: An Autobiographical Essay on National Prides (1954)

Narayan, R. K., The Ramayana (1973)

Narayan, R. K., My Days (1975)

Sahgal, Nayantara,  Storm in Chandigarh (1969)

Singh, Khushwant, Train to Pakistan (1956)

Secondary works: 

Ranasinha, Ruvani, South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain:Culture in Translation (Oxford: Clarendon, 2007)

Warner, Oliver, Chatto & Windus: A Brief Account of the Firm's Origin, History and Development (London: Chatto & Windus, 1973)


Date began: 
01 Jan 1855
Key Individuals' Details: 

Attia Hosain, John Camden Hotten, Cecil Day Lewis, Aubrey Menen, W. E. Windus.

Archive source: 

Chatto & Windus Archive, University of Reading

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