Francis King

Sweet Hart

Rupert Hart-Davis: Man of Letters

By

Chatto & Windus 332pp £20 order from our bookshop

The death of the once-independent publishing firm Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd was an agonisingly slow one. First, for lack of means, it became a British subsidiary of the American giant Harcourt Brace. Then, in 1963, Harcourt Brace, dissatisfied with its acquisition, sold it on to Granada. For a while, Hart-Davis stayed on as a director. But his opinions and even his presence were so rarely sought that, increasingly chagrined and humiliated, he eventually quit. Having done so, he wrote to his close friend Edmund Blunden: ‘I’m not really au fond a publisher at all . . . I’m really some sort of literary bloke, who likes reading, ferreting, compiling, classifying.’

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