Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebranded version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic fiction and avant-garde literary fiction, and is best known for the first print of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita .
It specialized in books which could not be published (without legal action) in the English-speaking world, and correctly assumed that the French, who were unable to read the books, and were more sexually tolerant, would leave them alone. They were books to buy if your travels took you through Paris.
Precisely 94 Olympia Press publications were promoted and packaged as "Traveller's Companion" books, usually with simple text-only covers, and each book in the series was numbered. The "Ophelia Press" line of erotica was far larger, using the same design, but pink covers instead of green.
Olympia Press was the first publisher willing to print William S. Burroughs's avant-garde, sexually explicit Naked Lunch , which soon became famous. Other notable works included J. P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man ; Samuel Beckett's French trilogy Molloy , Malone Dies , and The Unnamable ; Henry Miller's trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, consisting of Sexus, Nexus and Plexus; A Tale of Satisfied Desire by Georges Bataille; Story of O by Pauline Réage; Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg's Candy ; Alex Austin's The Blue Guitar and Eleanore; and a critical book on Scientology, Inside Scientology/Dianetics by Robert Kaufman. The South African poet Sinclair Beiles was an editor at the publisher. Other authors included Alexander Trocchi, Iris Owens (Harriet Daimler) and John Stevenson (Marcus Van Heller).
Girodias had troubled dealings with his authors including copyright issues; Nabokov was not satisfied with the publisher and its reputation, and another long-running dispute over the rights to The Ginger Man ended with Donleavy's then-wife Mary buying out Girodias at what was intended to be a closed auction. Having to leave France because he managed to annoy powerful people, Girodias briefly reestablished Olympia Press in New York in the 1960s, and in London in the early 1970s.
Grove Press in the U.S. would later print The Olympia Reader, a best-selling anthology containing material from some of Olympia's most popular works, including material by Burroughs, Miller, Trocchi and others. Another well-known collection was The Best of Olympia, first published by the Olympia Press in 1963 and reprinted by New English Library in 1966.
Other incarnations of the company, some with Girodias' support, emerged in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Olympia Press has been re-established and is currently operating out of Washington, London, and Frankfurt.
|1||The Enormous Bed||Henry Jones (pseudonym for John Coleman)|
|2||Rape||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|3||School for Sin||Frances Lengel (pseudonym for Alexander Trocchi)|
|4||The Libertine||Robert Desmond|
|5||Play This Love With Me||Willie Baron (pseudonym for Baird Bryant)|
|6||Tender Was My Flesh||Winifred Drake|
|7||The Ginger Man||J. P. Donleavy|
|8||An Adult's Story||Robert Desmond|
|9||The Whip Angels||XXX (Dianne Bataille)|
|10||What Frank Harris Did Not Say||Alexander Trocchi|
|11||The Loins of Amon||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|12||The Chariot of Flesh||Malcolm Nesbit|
|13||The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe||Humphrey Richardson|
|14||White Thighs||Alexander Trocchi|
|15||Rogue Women||Nicholas Cutter|
|16||With Open Mouth||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|17||Fanny Hill||John Cleland|
|18||How to Do It||Gustav Landshot|
|20||The Small Rooms of Paris||Ezra de Richarnaud|
|21||Until She Screams||Mason Hoffenberg|
|22||The Itch||Steven Hammer|
|23||Roman Orgy||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|24||Heaven, hell and the whore||Robert Desmond|
|26||Who Pushed Paula?||Akbar Del Piombo|
|27||Skirts||Akbar Del Piombo|
|28||Sarabande for a bitch||Mickey Dikes|
|29||Helen and Desire||Alexander Trocchi|
|30||Cruel Lips||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|31||Kama Houri||Ataullah Mardaan|
|32||The Pleasure Thieves||Harriet Daimler|
|34||Cosimo's Wife||Akbar Del Piombo|
|35||The Wantons||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|36||Our Lady of the Flowers||Jean Genet|
|37||The House of Borgia||Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)|
|38||Flesh and Blood||Anna Winter|
|40||The Organization||Harriet Daimler|
|41||A Gallery of Nudes||Hume Parkinson|
|42||Deva Dasi||Ataullah Mardaan|
|43||The Double Bellied Companion||Akbar Del Piombo|
|44||The Story of O||Pauline Reage|
|45||Pearls of the Rainbow||Robert Desmond|
|46||Sin For Breakfast||Hamilton Drake|
|47||The world of sex||Henry Miller|
|48||Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery||John Wilmot|
|49||The Bedroom Philosophers||D.A.F. de Sade|
|50||120 Days of Sodom||Marquis de Sade|
|51||The White Book||Jean Cocteau|
|52||Juliette Part 1||Marquis de Sade|
|53||Juliette Part 2||Marquis de Sade|
|54||Juliette Part 3||Marquis de Sade|
|55||Juliette Part 4||Marquis de Sade|
|56||Juliette Part 5||Marquis de Sade|
|57||Juliette Part 6||Marquis de Sade|
|58||Juliette Part 7||Marquis de Sade|
|60||I Hear Voices||Paul Ableman|
|61||The Woman Thing||Harriet Daimler|
|63||The Gaudy Image||William Talsman|
|65||Classical Hindu Erotology||Ram Krishnanada|
|67||Justine||Marquis de Sade|
|69||The Watcher and The Watched||Thomas Peachum|
|70||Two Novels: The Amorous Exploits of a Young Rakehell; The Debauched Hospodar||Guillaume Apollinaire|
|71||Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable||Samuel Beckett|
|73||The Fetish Crowd||Akbar Del Piombo|
|74||Zazie dans le Metro||Raymond Queneau|
|75||Houses of Joy||Wu Wu Ming (Sinclair Beiles)|
|76||Naked Lunch||William S. Burroughs|
|77||The Black Book||Lawrence Durrell|
|78||The Thief's Journal||Jean Genet|
|79||Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade, and, The Hero Maker||Akbar Del Piombo|
|80||The Young and Evil||Charles Henri Ford|
|82||The Hero Maker||Akbar Del Piombo|
|83||Steiner's Tour||Phillip O'Connor|
|84||Pleasures and Follies of a Good Natured Libertine||Restif de la Bretonne|
|85||The American Express||Gregory Corso|
|86||The Shy Photographer||Jock Carroll|
|88||The Soft Machine||William S. Burroughs|
|90||A Bedside Odyssey||Homer & Associates|
|91||The Ticket That Exploded||William S. Burroughs|
|92||Busy bodies||Ed Martin|
|93||Murder vs. murder: The British legal system and the A.6 murder case||Jean. [from old catalog] Justice|
|94||Sextet||j. Hume Parkinson|
|102||I Hear Voices||Paul Ableman|
|104||The Gaudy Image||William Talsman|
|105||The Story of Venus and Tannhauser||Aubrey Beardsley|
|107||The best of 'Olympia': An anthology||Maurice Girodias|
|108||The Fifth Volume of Frank Harris's My Life and Loves||An Irreverent Treatment by Alexander Trocchi|
|109||Young Adam||Alexander Trocchi|
|114||Junky||William S. Burroughs|
|205||The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe||Humphrey Richardson|
|206||A bedside odyssey||Gerald Williams|
|210||Sin for Breakfast||Mason Hoffenberg|
|214||My Mother Taught Me||Tor Kung|
|301||The Watcher and the Watched||Thomas Peachum|
|429||Crazy Wild breaks loose.||Jett Sage|
|434||Bishop's gambol||Roger Agile|
|440||Frankenstein '69||Ed Martin|
|450||Acid temple ball||Mary Sativa|
|456||A satyr's romance||Barry N. Malzberg|
|505||Run Little Leather Boy||Larry Townsend|
|2218||The Organization||Harriet Daimler|
|2220||Whip Angels||Selena Warfield (pseud. Dianne Bataille)|
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Alexander Whitelaw Robertson Trocchi was a Scottish novelist.
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James Patrick Donleavy was an Irish/American novelist and playwright. His best-known work is the novel The Ginger Man, which was initially banned for obscenity.
The Ginger Man is a novel, first published in Paris in 1955, by J. P. Donleavy. The story is set in Dublin, Ireland, in post-war 1947. Upon its publication, it was banned both in Ireland and the United States of America by reason of obscenity.
Maurice Girodias was a French publisher who was the founder of the Olympia Press. At one time he was the owner of his father's Obelisk Press. He spent most of his productive years in Paris.
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Obelisk Press was an English-language press based in Paris, France, which was founded by British publisher Jack Kahane in 1929.
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Circlet Press is a publishing house in Cambridge, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. It was founded by Cecilia Tan, who is also its manager. It specializes in science fiction erotica, a once uncommon genre, and its publications often feature BDSM themes.
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Iris Owens (1929–2008), also known by her pseudonym Harriet Daimler, was an American novelist.
John "Steve" Stevenson was a British writer who, under the pen name Marcus van Heller, wrote erotic fiction for the Traveller's Companion series of Olympia Press publisher (1955–1961). Later he also wrote under the pen name Stephen John.
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