Michael Joseph (publisher)

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Michael Joseph (26 September 1897 – 15 March 1958) was a British publisher and writer.


Early life and career

Joseph was born in Upper Clapton, London. He served in the British Army during the First World War, and then embarked on a writing career, his first book being Short Story Writing for Profit (1923). [1]

After a period as a literary agent for Curtis Brown, Joseph founded his own publishing imprint as a subsidiary of Victor Gollancz Ltd. Gollancz invested £4000 in Michael Joseph Ltd, established 5 September 1935. [2] Joseph and Victor Gollancz disagreed on many points and Michael Joseph bought out Gollancz Ltd in 1938 after Gollancz attempted to censor Across the Frontiers by Sir Philip Gibbs on political grounds. [1] [2] (Joseph published the first edition in 1938 and a revised edition the following May.) Joseph managed to build up an impressive list of authors, including H. E. Bates, C. S. Forester, Monica Dickens and Richard Llewellyn. [2]

Personal life

Joseph married actress Hermione Gingold in 1918 and they had two sons, Leslie and Stephen Joseph. [1] (The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, established by the latter in 1955, was Britain's first theatre in the round.) The couple divorced in 1926 and Joseph promptly married Edna Victoria Nellie Frost, with whom he had a daughter Shirley and son Richard. [1] Richard established a very successful career in printing and then later running his own publishing company. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had a son, Adam Joseph and daughter, Rachel Joseph. Edna died in 1949 and Joseph's third marriage the next year was to Anthea Esther Hodson, with whom he had a daughter Charlotte and son Hugh. [1] Anthea ran the publishing business after her husband's death. [3]


Michael Joseph died of septicaemia after a delayed medical operation in 1958. [1]

Michael Joseph Ltd from 1958

After Joseph died, his widow Anthea Joseph rescued the publishing company Michael Joseph Ltd from the ensuing crisis. [1] In 1985, Michael Joseph Ltd was acquired by Penguin Books. [2] [4] Penguin turned its new property into one of its imprints and in 2018 Penguin describes Michael Joseph as "[t]he leading commercial fiction and non-fiction imprint of Penguin Books", specialising in "women’s fiction, crime, thrillers, cookery, memoirs and lifestyle books". [5]

Books written by Michael Joseph

Authors and series published by Michael Joseph Ltd

Authors on Michael Joseph Ltd.’s list included H. E. Bates, Vicki Baum, Joyce Cary, Monica Dickens, C. S. Forester, Paul Gallico, Richard Gordon, Barry Hines, [2] [6] D. F. Karaka, Richard Llewellyn, Bertrand Russell, Vita Sackville-West and Derek Tangye.

Book series published by the firm included the Carfax Editions, Mermaid Books, [7] The Minack Chronicles [8] and The Rosemary Library. [9]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Adrian Room, "Joseph, Michael (1897–1958)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. 2004. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Michael Joseph Publishers". The Open University. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  3. Victor Morrison, "Joseph , Anthea Esther (1924–1981)", rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  4. "1983: Penguin expansion". The Pearson Timeline. Pearson PLC (pearson.com). Retrieved 2014-04-10; unavailable 1 Nov. 2018.
  5. Michael Joseph, penguin.co.uk. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  6. "Barry Hines - A Kestrel For A Knave - First UK Edition 1968".
  7. Mermaid Books (Michael Joseph) - Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  8. The Minack Chronicles, minack.info. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  9. Publishers & Series List, owu.edu. Retrieved 5 October 2022.

Further reading