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Jonathan Cape

Jonathan Cape

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Jonathan Cape was a London-based publisher founded in 1919 as "Page & Co" by Herbert Jonathan Cape (1879–1960), formerly a manager at Duckworth who had worked his way up from a position of bookshop errand boy. Cape brought with him the rights to cheap editions of the popular author Elinor Glyn
Elinor Glyn
Elinor Glyn , born Elinor Sutherland, was a British novelist and scriptwriter who pioneered mass-market women's erotic fiction. She popularized the concept It...

 and sales of these works provided capital for successive ventures. The other founding partner was George Wren Howard, whom Cape had met while both men had briefly worked for art publishers The Medici Society, and Howard was able to borrow capital from his father to invest in the business.

The first employee was Edward Garnett
Edward Garnett
Edward Garnett was an English writer, critic and a significant and personally generous literary editor, who was instrumental in getting D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers published. His father Richard Garnett was a writer and librarian at the British Museum...

, husband of translator Constance Garnett
Constance Garnett
Constance Clara Garnett was an English translator of nineteenth-century Russian literature...

, who became the business's long-serving reader
Literary editor
A literary editor is an editor in a newspaper, magazine or similar publication who deals with aspects concerning literature and books, especially reviews. A literary editor may also help with editing books themselves, by providing services such as proof reading, copy-editing, and literary...

. On 1 January 1921 "Page & Co" became "Jonathan Cape". It took over the back list of A. C. Fifield, including such authors as W. H. Davies
W. H. Davies
William Henry Davies or W. H. Davies was a Welsh poet and writer. Davies spent a significant part of his life as a tramp or vagabond in the United States and United Kingdom, but became known as one of the most popular poets of his time...

, Sidney Webb and Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler may refer to:*Samuel Butler , author of Hudibras*Samuel Butler , classical scholar, schoolmaster at Shrewsbury, Bishop of Lichfield...


From that point on, guided by Garnett's literary judgement and Howard's high standards of design and production, it was a major force in British publishing, notably of books by T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

, Arthur Ransome
Arthur Ransome
Arthur Michell Ransome was an English author and journalist, best known for writing the Swallows and Amazons series of children's books. These tell of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects...

, Peter Fleming, Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

, Malcolm Lowry
Malcolm Lowry
Clarence Malcolm Lowry was an English poet and novelist who was best known for his novel Under the Volcano, which was voted No. 11 in the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list.-Biography:...

's Under the Volcano
Under the Volcano
Under the Volcano is a 1947 semi-autobiographical novel by English writer Malcolm Lowry . The novel tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British consul in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac , on the Day of the Dead.Surrounded by the helpless presences of his ex-wife, his...

, Fitzroy Maclean's Eastern Approaches
Eastern Approaches
Eastern Approaches is an autobiographical account of the early career of Fitzroy Maclean. It is divided into three parts: his life as a junior diplomat in Moscow and his travels in the Soviet Union, especially the forbidden zones of Central Asia; his exploits in the British Army and SAS in the...

and the James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 series by Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming
Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer.Fleming is best known for creating the fictional British spy James Bond and for a series of twelve novels and nine short stories about the character, one of the biggest-selling series of fictional books of...

. As the 1960's progressed, the firm successfully courted and published authors who were representative of the age, including Beatle John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

, and former 'angry young man' Kingsley Amis
Kingsley Amis
Sir Kingsley William Amis, CBE was an English novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. He wrote more than 20 novels, six volumes of poetry, a memoir, various short stories, radio and television scripts, along with works of social and literary criticism...

. Cape also signed up Len Deighton
Len Deighton
Leonard Cyril Deighton is a British military historian, cookery writer, and novelist. He is perhaps most famous for his spy novel The IPCRESS File, which was made into a film starring Michael Caine....

, whose series of spy novels featuring an unnamed protagonist (now known as Harry Palmer
Harry Palmer
Harry Palmer is the name of the protagonist of a number of films based on the main character from the spy novels written by Len Deighton. Michael Caine played Harry Palmer in the films based on three of the first four of the published novels featuring this character, and also later in two films not...

) was a gritty alternative to the far-fetched adventures of James Bond. In the 1970's, Cape published popular authors in many genres, including fantasy novelist J.G. Ballard, literary heavyweight Salman Rushdie, and award-winning children's writer Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...


Cape notably rejected George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's 1945 Animal Farm
Animal Farm
Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II...

, which went to Secker and Warburg
Secker and Warburg
Harvill Secker is a British publishing company formed in 2004 from the merger of Secker and Warburg and the Harvill Press.Secker and Warburg was formed in 1936 from a takeover of Martin Secker, which was in receivership, by Fredric Warburg and Roger Senhouse...


A defensive merger with Chatto and Windus
Chatto and Windus
Chatto & Windus has been, since 1987, an imprint of Random House, publishers. It was originally an important publisher of books in London, founded in the Victorian era....

 was carried out in 1969; later The Bodley Head
The Bodley Head
The Bodley Head is an English publishing house, founded in 1887 and existing as an independent entity until the 1970s. The name has been used as an imprint of Random House Children's Books since 1987...

 and Virago Press
Virago Press
Virago is a British publishing company founded in 1973 by Carmen Callil to publish books by women writers. Both new works and reissued books by neglected authors have featured on the imprint's list....

 were added to the group, before Cape became an imprint
In the publishing industry, an imprint can mean several different things:* As a piece of bibliographic information about a book, it refers to the name and address of the book's publisher and its date of publication as given at the foot or on the verso of its title page.* It can mean a trade name...

 of Random House
Random House
Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

in 1987.

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