Max Reinhardt: A Life in Publishing by Judith Adamson - review by Ion Trewin

Ion Trewin

Prince Among Publishers

Max Reinhardt: A Life in Publishing


Palgrave Macmillan 240pp £50

This account of the life of Max Reinhardt, not the Austrian theatrical producer who founded the Salzburg Festival but the British publisher whose name is indelibly associated with one of the great imprints of twentieth-century British publishing, The Bodley Head, is also about how publishing evolved from independent, often personally owned imprints to the conglomerates that now dominate the business of books.

When The Bodley Head under Reinhardt was at its peak, its enviable fiction list included Graham Greene, William Trevor, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Georgette Heyer. Publishing was still mainly dominated by individuals, some houses run by first-generation founders such as André Deutsch and George Weidenfeld, others (among them Jonathan Cape, Faber, Chatto & Windus and John Murray) in capable and imaginative, but still private, hands. Even the big boys such as Collins and Hodder & Stoughton were essentially family businesses. 

As Judith Anderson relates, Reinhardt’s background could hardly have seemed less suitable as a preparation for a publishing career. His architect father was an Austrian who liked Wagner, his mother – who preferred jazz – was born in Turkey but had Ukrainian ancestry and had lived in Italian

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