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Duckworth Books

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Duckworth Books
Parent companyDuckworth Books Group[1]
Founded1898; 123 years ago (1898)
FounderGerald Duckworth
Country of originUK
Headquarters locationLondon
DistributionBloomsbury Publishing[2]
Publication typesBooks

Duckworth Books, originally Gerald Duckworth and Company, founded in 1898 by Gerald Duckworth, is a British publisher.[3]


Duckworth printers mark c. 1898
Duckworth printers mark c. 1898

Gerald Duckworth founded the company in 1898, setting up its office at 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. Staff included Edward Garnett as literary advisor and (Herbert) Jonathan Cape as the sales manager.[3]

Until the mid-1920s the company's notable authors included Hilaire Belloc, Anton Chekhov, W. H. Davies, Elinor Glyn, W. H. Hudson, Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, W. Heath Robinson and Virginia Woolf (the founder's half-sister). Authors in the next two decades included John Galsworthy, Anthony Powell and Edith Sitwell.[3]

Following Gerald Duckworth's death in 1937, control of the company passed to Mervyn Horder and Patrick Crichton-Smith. The company, heavily in debt after the Great Depression, suffered the loss of "its entire stock of unbound sheets" as the result of bomb damage during the Second World War. From 1945 until the 1970s the firm published authors such Simone de Beauvoir, Charlotte Mew and Evelyn Waugh.[3]

In 1968 Gerard Duckworth & Co. was purchased by Colin Haycraft and a friend Tim Simon.[4] Haycraft would run the company until his death in 1994. In this period Haycraft was described as a "one man university press" publishing at Duckworth a "body of works on Greek and Roman literature, philosophy and society" whose scholarship and originality "equalled the output of the large university houses". Meanwhile his wife, the writer Alice Thomas Ellis, was Duckworth's fiction editor and was responsible for publishing "Duckworth's best-selling author", Beryl Bainbridge.

The company moved from Henrietta Street to The Old Piano Factory in Camden, North London.

In the period from the 1970s to the 1990s authors published by the company including John Bayley, Beryl Bainbridge, Jeffrey Bernard, Alice Thomas Ellis, Penelope Fitzgerald, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker and Oliver Sacks.

In 1998 the company celebrated its centenary[5] and moved its premises to Frith Street, Soho. From 2000 the company published authors such as Max Brooks, Julia Child, J. J. Connolly, Suzanne Fagence Cooper and Ray Kurzweil.[3]

In 2003 the company suffered a financial collapse and was put into receivership.[6] Its assets were bought by Peter Mayer, a former chief executive of Penguin Books, who already owned The Overlook Press of New York City.[7] In 2007 it was reported that Duckworth's trade books were then to be published "under the Duckworth Overlook" imprint while academic books would continue to "carry just the Duckworth name".[8]

In 2010, Duckworth's academic list was acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing.[9]

After Mayer's death in 2018, Duckworth was sold to Prelude Books and was then operated under the leadership of Pete Duncan and Matt Casbourne.[10][3] In 2020 Duckworth was operating from an office in Richmond-upon-Thames.[3]

Book series

  • Covent Garden Library
  • Crown Library
  • Great Lives[11]
  • Greenback Library
  • Hundred Years Series[12]
  • The Library of Art
  • Masters of Painting
  • Modern Plays
  • New Reader’s Library[13]
  • Noted Irish Lives
  • The Popular Library of Art
  • Reader’s Library[14]
  • The Roadmender Series
  • The Student Series
  • Studies in Theology
  • Two Shillings Net Series


  1. ^ Home - Duckworth Books, Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Trade". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Our History, Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Colin Haycraft: A Passionate Publisher", The Guardian, 1 October 1994, p. 32.
  5. ^ Claudia Joseph, "Party takes wing with a huge bill", The Times, 16 October 1998, p. 9.
  6. ^ John Ezard, "D-day dawns for Duckworth", The Guardian, 25 April 2003. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  7. ^ Famed publisher rescued, Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  8. ^ Bookview: May 2007, Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  9. ^ Corporate history, Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Mayer's Duckworth sold to Prelude for undisclosed sum | The Bookseller". Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  11. ^ Great Lives, Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  12. ^ The Hundred Years Series (Gerald Duckworth) - Book Series List, Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  13. ^ New Readers' Library, Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  14. ^ Readers' Library (Duckworth), Retrieved 29 November 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 January 2021, at 21:52
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