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Bodley Head Bodley Head i(A37827 works by) (Organisation) assertion
Born: Established: 1887 London,
c
England,
c
c
United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 1989 London,
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England,
c
c
United Kingdom (UK),
c
Western Europe, Europe,

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BiographyHistory

Elkin Mathews and John Lane established the Bodley Head, a firm initially involved in the antiquarian book trade, in 1887. Within a few years the Bodley Head had begun publishing limited editions to appeal to a sophisticated market, attracting such authors and illustrators as Oscar Wilde, Richard Le Gallienne, Aubrey Beardsley, and Charles Ricketts. Elkin Mathews was increasingly unhappy with the direction the firm was taking, and in 1894 the partnership was terminated. Lane retained the firm's imprint and to it prefixed his own name: John Lane the Bodley Head.

In 1896 he opened a New York branch. In the same year as Mathews' departure Lane launched the audacious Yellow Book, with Henry Harland as editor. The flamboyant periodical quickly became the talk of literary London, but the uproar produced by Oscar Wilde's legal difficulties and public reaction against the artistically esoteric hastened the end of The Yellow Book in 1897. Lane's 1898 marriage to a wealthy American author, Anna Eichberg King, perhaps abetted his own increasingly conservative commercial and artistic instincts, and after the Yellow Book debacle he pursued a more conventional course.

In the early years of the twentieth century John Lane broadened the scope of his publishing activities, issuing a considerable range of nonfiction and, most notably, prose fiction. Following World War One the Bodley Head became a limited liability company as Hubert Carr-Gomme and Ronald Boswell joined the firm, along with Allen Lane, a young cousin of John. At the time of John Lane's death on February 2, 1925, the firm was in decline, culminating in its bankruptcy in 1936. At that point a consortium of publishers acquired the firm's name and assets, while Allen Lane, having recently founded Penguin Books, went on to a successful career in that venture.' (Adapted from the HRC, University of Texas website: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/research/fa/lane.john.bio.html sighted 04/01/2005)

Max Reinhardt bought The Bodley Head in 1956 and the firm once again had some success, including publishing the work of Graham Greene, who was also a director. In 1973 The Bodley Head merged with Chatto and Windus and Jonathan Cape, but each of the companies maintained editorial independence. Random House took over the combined companies in 1987; when Random House merged with Century Hutchinson to form Random Century in 1989, The Bodley Head effectively ceased.

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Last amended 12 Nov 2013 10:28:57
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