J. M. Dent

Joseph Malaby Dent (30 August 1849 – 9 May 1926) was a British book publisher who produced the Everyman's Library series.

Dent was born in Darlington in what is now the Britaania public house.[1] After a short and unsuccessful stint as an apprentice printer he took up bookbinding. At the age of fifteen he gave a talk on James Boswell's Life of Johnson which would be the first book printed in the Everyman's Library. He began publishing high quality limited editions of classic literature under the Temple Library imprint.

In 1888 he founded the publishing firm of J. M. Dent and Company. (It became J.M. Dent & Sons in 1909). Between 1889 and 1894 Dent published the works of Lamb, Goldsmith, Austen, Chaucer, Tennyson, and like authors. Printed in small runs on handmade paper, these early editions enjoyed modest commercial success. Dent established the highly successful Temple Shakespeare series in 1894.

In 1904, Dent began to plan Everyman's Library, a series of one thousand classics to be published in an attractive format and sold at one shilling. To meet demand, Dent built the Temple Press. The publication of the Everyman Library began in 1906 and 152 titles were issued by the end of the first year. However, it was soon confronted by a double blow: the Copyright Act 1911 which extended protection to fifty years after the author's death thus reducing the availability of Victorian texts, and World War I which brought with it inflation and shortages of supplies.

In A Sinking Island, Hugh Kenner wrote: "Destiny beckoned J. M. Dent toward the kingdom of books, and without ever learning to spell he became an influential bookman. He was small, lame, tight-fisted, and apt to weep under pressure, a performance that could disconcert authors and employees. When his temper had risen like a flame he'd scream; the scream, one employee recalled, was what broke men's spirits. His paroxysms were famous; a Swedish specialist thought of prescribing a pail of cold water for Dent to plunge his head into. For editing the Library he paid [Ernest] Rhys three guineas a volume—what senior office-boys might earn in two weeks. Dent's ungovernable passion was for bringing Books to the People. He remembered when he'd longed to buy books he couldn't afford. Yes, you could make the world better. He even thought cheap books might prevent wars."[2]

Although not a new idea, what set Everyman's apart from earlier series was its scope; Dent planned for no less than one thousand volumes. He was able to build a new factory and offices in Covent Garden with the profits. Despite having an impressive range of literature, Dent prevented classics of dubious morals, such as Moll Flanders, from being printed. The First World War slowed the production of books and Dent did not live to see the one thousand volume mark reached in 1956.

Among the impressive volumes that came from Dent was The Pilgrim's Regress, the spiritual autobiography of C. S. Lewis, published in 1933.

J. M. Dent, his sons Hugh and Jack, and Jack's son F. J. Martin Dent, constituted the board of directors in the 1920s. Hugh Dent joined the firm in 1909 and functioned as an editor for Everyman's Library; Jack joined the firm in 1915 and supervised the Temple Press; F. J. Martin Dent came in 1924 and directed the production department. After J. M. Dent's death, W. G. Taylor, the secretary of the firm since 1916, joined the board. Hugh R. Dent served as the chairman from 1926 to 1938, followed by Taylor from 1938 to 1963. Taylor was also managing director from 1934 to 1955. F. J. Martin Dent followed Taylor as managing director and chairman. Weidenfeld and Nicolson purchased J. M. Dent & Sons in January 1988.[3] It now forms an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group.


  1. ^ http://www.visitdarlington.com/downloads/Heritage%20Trail%20Guide.pdf
  2. ^ New York Times Book Review, February 28, 1988.
  3. ^ J. M. Dent and Sons (Library of the University of North Carolina)

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • dent — [ dɑ̃ ] n. f. • 1080 masc. ou fém.; lat. dens, dentis I ♦ 1 ♦ (Chez l homme) Un des organes de la bouche, de couleur blanchâtre, durs et calcaires, implantés sur le bord libre des deux maxillaires. ⇒arg. ratiche . Mâcher, mordre, déchirer avec… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • dent — dent; dif·fi·dent; dif·fi·dent·ly; dif·fi·dent·ness; ei·dent; ev·i·dent·ly; ev·i·dent·ness; ex·e·dent; fron·dent; im·pu·dent; im·pu·dent·ly; im·pu·dent·ness; in·ci·dent·less; in·ci·dent·ly; in·dent·ed·ly; in·dent·er; in·de·pen·dent·ly;… …   English syllables

  • Dent County, Missouri — Location in the state of Missouri …   Wikipedia

  • Dent — may refer to: Contents 1 People 1.1 Fictional characters 2 Places 3 Companies 4 Other …   Wikipedia

  • Dent's disease — Classification and external resources Nephron of the kidney without juxtaglomerular apparatus OMIM 300009 …   Wikipedia

  • Dent — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Alfred Dent (1844−1927) britischer Kaufmann und Gründer der North Borneo Chartered Company Catherine Dent (* 1965), US amerikanische Schauspielerin Charlie Dent (* 1960), US amerikanischer Politiker Denny… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dent Blanche — La dent Blanche vue de l est Géographie Altitude 4 357 m Massif Alpes valaisannes Coordonné …   Wikipédia en Français

  • dent — DENT. s. f. Petit os qui tient à la mâchoire de l animal, et qui lui sert à inciser les alimens et à les mâcher. On distingue les dents en dents molaires, dents canines, et dents incisives. On dit aussi: Dent oeillère. Dent mâchelière. Grosse… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Dent d'Hérens — North face of the Dent d Hérens Elevation 4,171 m (13,684 ft) …   Wikipedia

  • Dent du Chat — La Dent du chat vue du port d Aix les Bains Géographie Altitude 1 390 m …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dent du Géant — La dent du Géant, avec la pointe Sella à gauche, et le point culminant, la pointe Graham à droite Géographie Altitude 4 013 m, pointe …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”