Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century

On 22 March, the British Library publishes a new book that examines the lively history of British publishing over the Twentieth Century.

Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century reveals a fascinating tale of creative genius, individual endeavour, personal idiosyncrasy, occasional duplicity and bad behaviour and far-sighted vision that over the century made British book publishing the best in the world and still underlies its role today.

This book explores how publishing companies and their owners and staffs were organised and how their output responded to the wider social, economic and cultural trends of the period. It concentrates on the key figures like William Heinemann, Allen Lane, Paul Hamlyn and Robert Maxwell but also looks at less well known but often very significant figures whose contributions were also vital.

Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century unveils an exciting and dynamic industry that influenced the course of literature, education and general cultural history at home and abroad. It considers fiction and trade publishing as well as scholarly, academic, scientific, children's, technical, medical and professional publishing.

Iain Stevenson, author of Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century, commented:

“Publishing people are fascinating, interesting, occasionally horrifying and astounding. This book shows that their contribution to twentieth century British history and intellectual life was enormous and my research has forced reassessments of people like Robert Maxwell and Allen Lane as well as re-introducing many lesser-known individuals whose roles were important in shaping what we read.”

Notes to Editors

Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century by Iain Stevenson
Hardback, 336 pages, 244 x 172 mm, £25.00, ISBN 978 0 7123 0961 5

Now published in paperback:
The British Book Trade: An Oral History edited by Sue Bradley
Paperback, 352 pages, 244 x 172 mm, £14.95, ISBN 978 0 7123 5091 4

The British Book Trade: An Oral History documents the period of radical change that the British book trade underwent at the end of the Twentieth Century when the old family firms were being replaced by conglomerates and the ending of the Net Book Agreement gave shops new freedom to compete by cutting prices.

By the end of the Twentieth Century the British book trade was transformed. Most of the old family firms had been replaced by conglomerates and the end of the Net Book Agreement had given shops new freedom to compete by cutting prices. This volume documents the trade from the 1920s to the present day, through illuminating interviews with a range of insiders, from sales assistants to executives. These first-hand accounts by people directly involved in the publishing and bookselling are drawn from the Book Trade Lives collection of in-depth oral history interviews recorded by National Life Stories and accessible through the British Library Sound Archive.

Sue Bradley was the interviewer responsible for the seven-year Book Trade Lives interview programme at the British Library Sound Archive.

British Library Shop
Both titles can be purchased from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / e-mail: bl-bookshop@bl.uk) and online at www.bl.uk/shop as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.

National Life Stories is a charitable trust and limited company within the British Library Sound Archive. Established in 1987 to capture the life stories of British people whose experiences would not otherwise be recorded, National Life Stories has recorded over 2,000 interviews totalling some 20,000 hours, accessible at the British Library: www.bl.uk/nls

The British Library Sound Archive is one of the largest sound archives in the world. It holds over a million discs, 200,000 tapes, and many other sound and video recordings. The collections come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound from music, drama and literature, to oral history and wildlife sounds. Collection material comes in every conceivable format, from wax cylinder and wire recordings to CD and DVD, and from a wide variety of private, commercial and broadcast sources. The British Library Sound Archive also operates a wide-ranging recording programme of its own. www.bl.uk/soundarchive

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world-class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. www.bl.uk

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.