Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Many of you will be familiar with Victor Gollanczís last name. His publishing company printed some of the finest books of the 20th century - including The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell and Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis - but there is also an intriguing story behind the man himself.

Gollancz (1893-1967) studied the classics at Oxford University and during World War I began his life in publishing when he joined Ernest Bennís firm where he made his name as a high flyer by recruiting writers like Edith Nesbit and H. G. Wells. In 1927, he set up his own publishing house and his career took off.

He signed up Orwell, Ford Madox Ford and Daphne Du Maurier. Orwell was particularly influential at this time, publishing Down and Out in Paris and London, A Clergyman's Daughter and Keep the Aspidistra Flying while with Gollancz.

Gollancz was ahead of this time. He placed full-page adverts for his books in newspapers (very rare for this period) and his designers established a recognisable style featuring powerful typography and yellow dust jackets. Gollancz was creating Ďbrandingí 50 years before marketers embraced the buzzword.

Gollancz sympathised with Communism and fell out with Orwell over the authorís Spanish Civil War account, Homage to Catalonia. He refused to publish the book and Orwell switched to Secker and Warburg, who went on to publish the authorís two most famous novels Ė Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In 1936, Gollancz was a co-founder of the Left Book Club with the intention of halting the growth of Fascism in Europe and promoting socialism. Every month, Gollancz recommended a left-leaning book and members received the book for a discounted price of two shillings and six pence. The first selection was France Today and the People's Front by Maurice Thorez, a French Communist. The Left Book Club had 45,000 members within 12 months and hundreds of local groups met and debated the books up and down Britain. With Fascism defeated, the Left Book Club was closed down in 1948.

Gollancz also wrote himself and was a very active political campaigner. His 1943 pamphlet Let My People Go lobbied for the Allies to help the European Jews being exterminated by the Nazis in the occupied countries. During this period of time, where the existence of the Holocaust was not accepted by many of the Allied leaders, Gollancz worked ceaselessly for his fellow Jews.

And yet after World War II ended, Gollancz attempted to publicise the poor treatment of the Germans by the victors. He highlighted how German prisoners were kept in what were effectively concentration camps and allowed no more than 1000 calories per day. His 1946 book Our Threatened Values outlined the awful conditions faced by the defeated Germans.

Even as late the 1960s, Victor Gollancz Ltd was a still a publishing powerhouse, introducing the likes of John le Carre and J.G. Ballard to readers.

The publisher was knighted in 1965. In 1998, Victor Gollancz Ltd was bought by Orion and it is now a science fiction and fantasy imprint. There appears to be only one biography of Gollancz penned by Ruth Dudley Edwards.

Books Published by Victor Gollancz Ltd

Call for the Dead by John Le Carre
Call for the Dead
by John Le Carre
The Einstein Intersection by Samuel Delaney
The Einstein Intersection
by Samuel Delaney
The Labyrinth Maker by Anthony Price
The Labyrinth Maker
by Anthony Price
Conditionally Human by Walter Miller
Conditionally Human
by Walter Miller
Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein
Orphans of the Sky
by Robert Heinlein
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
The Sirens of Titan
by Kurt Vonnegut
Terminal Beach by J.G. Ballard
Terminal Beach
by J.G. Ballard
Fridayís Footprint by Nadine Gordimer
Fridayís Footprint
by Nadine Gordimer
Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis
Take a Girl Like You
by Kingsley Amis
A Murder of Quality by John Le Carre
A Murder of Quality
by John Le Carre
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Neuromancer
by William Gibson
Deadline by John Dunning
Deadline
by John Dunning
Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon
Venus Plus X
by Theodore Sturgeon
Catís Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Catís Cradle
by Kurt Vonnegut
Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven
Inconstant Moon
by Larry Niven
No But I Saw the Movie by Peter De Vries
No But I Saw the Movie
by Peter De Vries
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Ringworld
by Larry Niven
The 4-Dimensional Nightmare by J.G. Ballard
The 4-Dimensional Nightmare
by J.G. Ballard
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
The Drowned World
by J.G. Ballard
Medusa by E.H. Visiak
Medusa
by E.H. Visiak
Strange Relations by Philip Jose Farmer
Strange Relations
by Philip Jose Farmer
Tuckerís People by Ira Wolfert
Tuckerís People
by Ira Wolfert
Out of the Night by H.J. Muller
Out of the Night
by H.J. Muller
Hollywood Cemetery by Liam O'Flaherty
Hollywood Cemetery
by Liam O'Flaherty
I Live Under A Black Sun by Edith Sitwell
I Live Under A Black Sun
by Edith Sitwell
A Family and a Fortune by Ivy Compton-Burnett
A Family and a Fortune
by Ivy Compton-Burnett
Holy Disorders by Edmund Crispin
Holy Disorders
by Edmund Crispin
Guilty Man by Cato
Guilty Man
by Cato
The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sheriff
The Hopkins Manuscript
by R.C. Sheriffthor
The Du Mauriers by Daphne Du Maurier
The Du Mauriers
by Daphne Du Maurier
Modern Tales of Horror selected by Dashiell Hammett
Modern Tales of Horror
selected by Dashiell Hammett
Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
Hangsaman
by Shirley Jackson
A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay
A Voyage to Arcturus
by David Lindsay
Lo! By Charles Fort
Lo!
By Charles Fort
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Rebecca
by Daphne Du Maurier
Young England by Walter Reynolds
Young England
by Walter Reynolds

Do you own a Gollancz edition? Tell us about it.



More to Discover


Easton Press Beautiful Book Boutique Vintage Pelicans