Jeremy Lewis

‘My Dear Boy, Pay When You Can’

Publishers still ruled the literary roost when I joined the publicity department of Collins in the autumn of 1967. With the sole exception of Norah Smallwood, the terrifying boss of Chatto & Windus, its leading practitioners were men in late middle age, invariably clad in tweed or chalk-striped suits and housed in elegant, rather ramshackle Georgian buildings in Bloomsbury or Covent Garden. Some companies – Hamish Hamilton, André Deutsch, Weidenfeld & Nicolson – were still run and owned by their founders, while Billy Collins, Jock Murray and Mark Longman headed long-established family firms: all of them paid their staff and their authors as little as they could get away with, and disguised professional competence and steely self-interest behind a facade of conviviality and amateur bumbling. Publishers still attracted the column inches: Allen Lane’s death in 1970 was front-page news, while whiz-kids like Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape loomed large in the gossip columns and the colour magazines.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,