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 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, husband of translator Constance Garnett, who became the business's long-serving reader. 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, Sidney Webb and Samuel Butler.
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, Arthur Ransome, Peter Fleming, Ernest Hemingway, Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, Fitzroy Maclean's Eastern Approaches and the James Bond series by Ian Fleming. As the 1960s progressed, the firm successfully courted and published authors who were representative of the age, including Beatle John Lennon, and former 'angry young man' Kingsley Amis. Cape also signed up Len Deighton, whose series of spy novels featuring an unnamed protagonist (now known as Harry Palmer) was a gritty alternative to the far-fetched adventures of James Bond. In the 1970s, Cape published popular authors in many genres, including novelists J.G. Ballard and Salman Rushdie, and award-winning children's writer Roald Dahl.
Cape notably rejected George Orwell's 1945 Animal Farm, which went to Secker and Warburg.
A defensive merger with Chatto and Windus was carried out in 1969; later The Bodley Head and Virago Press were added to the group, before Cape became an imprint of Random House in 1987.
Read more about Jonathan Cape: Cape Editions
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