Sir Stanley Unwin’s book, The Truth about Publishing, was revered when I worked briefly in that curious trade some ten years ago. I read it and received an impression of its formidable author through his rather dry prose. Here was a man who clearly had little time for fools. While excited by the book trade, he saw it as a business, not a cultural quest. He had little veneration for authors and certainly possessed no literary ambitions. Perhaps this cool commercial approach was one of the reasons for his success; he was not tempted to play the impresario to the wilder types of experimentalism as an antidote to a frustrated creativity of his own.
David Unwin (Sir Stanley’s son) is a writer and a good one. He has written an account of their relationship which leaves one feeling that life with Sir Stanley cannot have been much fun. The old man was teetotal, austere, overpowering, obsessed with the minutiae of commerce. His letter to