Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Jonathan Cape

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Jonathan Cape, General publishers and publisher of high-quality books, of 11 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London (1921)

of 30 Bedford Square, London (1930)

1921 The firm was started by Jonathan Cape and George Wren Howard; its first publication was a reissue of "Travels in Arabia Deserta" by C. M. Doughty, which promptly met success despite its cost.

1922 Cape purchased the business of A. C. Fifield, a small publisher of independence and judgement. Also led the London publishing industry in importing work by American authors.

1929 Cape went into partnership with Harrison Smith to set up a short-lived American company, which published William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying".

1925 Moved to its lasting home at Bedford Square

Cape's many cheap series of books, of which the "Travellers' Library" was the most prominent, set a new standard of quality and appearance. Ten of the first Penguin books were Cape titles but the resulting paperback revolution killed Cape's own hardcover reprints.

Published T. E. Lawrence's "Revolt in the Desert" (1927), "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" (1935), and "The Mint" (1955).

Cape took on Ian Fleming's James Bond thrillers, which eventually sold millions and generated nearly all of the firm's profits.

Cape never attempted to enter the educational, technical, or specialist markets. Standard remained unusually high throughout.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Jonathan Cape, ODNB