Author Archives: Kelvin Smith

Once, not so very long ago…

These introductory sentences of Jay McInerney’s Bright, Precious Days stand alone. Been there, done that. “Once, not so very long ago, young men and women had come to the city because they loved books, because they wanted to write novels … Continue reading

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It’s better to offer authors more

Michael Mont, the fledgling publisher in To Let, the third volume of Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga, puts Soames right on the matter of author payments. ‘People are quite on the wrong track in offering less than they can afford to give; they ought … Continue reading

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Pathological Liar

Who will be the first real publisher to produce a book on Boris Johnson entitled “Pathological Liar”? The PM ‘s responsible for the Prorogation of Parliament. Something he said he’d never do. He’s a pathological liar. So let’s celebrate it! … Continue reading

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Kabuff or Wunderkammer?

Fictional publishers often appear at international book fairs. The setting gives writers the chance to introduce new characters, engineer plot twists and inject the frisson of drunken conversations and illicit sex. The Frankfurt Kabuff, Blaire Squiscoll’s recent work, adds a … Continue reading

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Madame Verdurin and the publisher

More than two thousand pages into À la recherche du temps perdu there is a brief mention of a Paris publisher who is said to have attended Madame Verdurin’s salon. Un grand éditeur de Paris venu en visite, et qui … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Taylor goes from bookshop to plantation

In Shillingworth-On-Thames Elizabeth Taylor is swept of her feet by John Wiley, the owner of a Ceylon tea plantation, and has amazing romantic adventures. Perhaps she would have been happier staying in the world of books, or perhaps things would … Continue reading

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In 1954 quite a few bright publishers secretly believed this

Muriel Spark’s fictional recollection of the London publishing world in A Far Cry from Kensington is a meandering tale that tells us something about the ways in which young ladies in the 1950s acquired “a job in publishing”, lost it, … Continue reading

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Tite and Snobby or Doolittle and Dalley?

The River Girl by Wendy Cope appeared in 1991 with lovely brush illustrations by Nicholas Garland. The narrative poem tells the tale of a young writer who, inspired by the river girl muse, becomes a great literary success. This does … Continue reading

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Penguin…and all the other things we once thought mattered

Kif, the narrator of Richard Flanagan’s First Person, is writing a novel, but it’s going nowhere when his old pal Ray gets him the job of ghostwriting Ziggy Heidl’s autobiography. That’s how he and Ray ‘drifted into that world of … Continue reading

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Publishing lunch in New York

Kay Norris, one of the main characters in Ira Levin’s Sliver, is an editor at Diadem, and she epitomises the supposed glamour of New York trade publishing in the 1980s. She lunches in the Grill Room of the Four Seasons … Continue reading

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