Allen Lane


Allen Lane

Sir Allen Lane (21 September 1902 – 7 July 1970) (born Allen Lane Williams), was a British publisher who founded Penguin Books, bringing high quality, paperback fiction and non-fiction to a mass market.

Allen Lane Williams was born in Bristol to Camilla (née Lane) and Samuel Williams, and studied at Bristol Grammar School. In 1919 he joined the publishing company Bodley Head as an apprentice to his uncle and founder of the company John Lane. In the process, he and the rest of his family changed their surname to Lane to retain the childless John Lane's company as a family firm. He rose quickly in the business becoming managing editor in 1925 following the death of his uncle.

After conflict with the board of directors who were wary at first — for fear of being prosecuted — of publishing James Joyce's controversial book "Ulysses", Lane left in 1936 to set up Penguin Books. The legend goes that on a train journey back from visiting Agatha Christie in 1934, Lane found himself on a station platform with nothing available worth reading. He conceived of paperback editions of literature of proven quality which would be cheap enough to be sold from a vending machine; the first was set up in Charing Cross Road and dubbed the "Penguincubator". Lane was also well aware of the Hamburg publisher Albatross Books and adopted many of its innovations. The paperback venture was extremely successful, and he expanded into other areas such as the Penguin Classics in 1945.

Lane married Lettice Lucy Orr on 28 June 1941 and had three daughters. He was knighted in 1962. In 1965, during an attempt by chief editor Tony Godwin and the board of directors to oust him, he stole a book's entire print run and burnt it. (The book was called "Massacre", by the French cartoonist Siné, and reportedly deeply offensive.) Lane fired Godwin, retained control of Penguin, but was forced to retire shortly afterwards after being diagnosed with bowel cancer. He died in 1970 at Northwood, Middlesex.

External links

*worldcat id|lccn-n86-147067
* [http://www.threemonkeysonline.com/als/allen_lane_lady_chatterley.html lady chatterley's defendant - Allen Lane and the paperback revolution] - a portrait of Allen Lane, written by his grandson Horatio Morpurgo


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  • Allen Lane — Sir Allen Lane (eigentlich Allen Williams; * 21. September 1902 in Bristol, Gloucestershire; † 7. Juli 1970 in Northwood, Middlesex) war einer der bedeutendsten britischen Verleger des 20. Jahrhunderts, Pionier des Taschenbuchs in England und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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