Here we provide what are effectively a series of background sketches of the main publishing houses which Francis Huxley dealt with, with some additional information on Francis’ contact with them. We provide a full list of all publishers, domestic and foreign who published Huxley’s work.
How did Francis Huxley find a distinguished publishing house for his first book? In a letter written by Francis in the field to Rupert Hart-Davis (RHD), he outlines his study on the Ka’apor. Rupert Hart-Davis had, at that time, an imprint bearing his name. Hart-Davis began in the publishing trade as an assistant editor with William Heinemann. With some help from his only friend, in publishing, Jamie Hamilton (later founder of Hamish Hamilton) he then moved on to the Book Society and, with a nudge from Hamilton, was offered a job at Jonathan Cape. Hart-Davis‘s natural ability to make friends, and his good taste in books, demonstrated that Jonathan Cape had made the right choice. The firm backed his decision to offer £300 to the then unknown writer Peter Fleming for a book on exploring Brazil, before the expedition had even started. The result was a huge success.
When Hart-Davis wanted promotion in 1946, Jonathan Cape declined to give it. David Garnett, the son of Cape’s chief reader, suggested to him that he start his own publishing house, again with financial support of author friends. It is said, that the literary quality of his young firm was appreciated. RHD published Leon Edel‘s multi-volume life of Henry James, and novels by Ray Bradbury and Maurice Druon. Yet money had to come in. Commercial success is one pillar of good and even-handed publishing. When he brought out Heinrich Harrer’s Seven Years in Tibet in 1952, he landed the bestseller in his firm’s history. In the same year, T. S. Eliot, at Faber & Faber, was contemplating having someone at his side to take over a workload he no longer wanted to manage. Eliot wrote to Geoffrey Faber,
The sort of man I had in mind would be a kind of Rupert Hart Davis, except that I don’t like the Duff Cooper world, I am doubtful of R.H.D.’s business soundness of sense, and I suspect his temperament would be difficult: which doesn’t leave much of Rupert.
We looked into RHD’s exchange of letters with George Lyttelton, between 1955 and 1975, hoping to find a reference to Francis. There were none to be found, though he does refer to Aldous, who was in the Eton class of Lyttelton, as was RHD later on. Julian Huxley was referred to three times. One derogatory remark concerned Julian Huxley’s and A.L. Rowse’s moments of adolescent dogmatism.
Even before Francis published Affable Savages in 1956, Heinemann took over RHD’s company in December 1955, buying all the shares. The main shareholder, and former friend, David Garnett, and his family “would be severely penalised” as their shares were written down to half the original value. Garnett accused Rupert of “exploiting the firm for his own purposes and of riding roughshod over the wishes of other shareholders.” To this nasty fait accompli there was no reconciliation. A planned merger with Penguin Books, failed to materialise as the need for urgent cash was served better by Heinemann. In the six years of RHD under the Heinemann’ umbrella a small profit was made with 286 books. We could not find out if Affable Savage was among them, as all the archives are now closed, after Collins, the latest buyer, was dissolved. This Francis never had the luck of being a Penguin Author, as did his later friend R. D. Laing.
The year in which Francis’ book appeared (1956), RHD published forty-four books, including The Letters of William Blake (edited by G. Keynes.) Over the years, Heinemann lost money with their subsidiary RHD and so eventually sold it, in January 1962, to Bill Jovanovich, the president of Harcourt Brace, who regarded Rupert very highly. Only a year later, Jovanovich could no longer convince his shareholders that having a London subsidiary was a good idea, due to a shortage of capital and an inadequate flow of profitable books. Granada Television bought the ailing business. This proved to be Rupert Hart-Davis’ liberation from publishing as his interest in this venture had by now “evaporated.” When Francis came to publish The Invisibles in 1966, the second book under the RHD imprint, his publisher was the Granada Conglomerate. In 1988, Granada Publishing Ltd officially became Collins until 1999, when the company was dissolved.
Philip Ziegler wrote a critical assessment of Francis’ first publisher. From this we learn that Rupert “could not rarely resist an opportunity to put his fingers into a new pie or to occupy himself with matters that did not need to be his business.” He admitted himself “I am not really au fond a publisher at all”? Francis’s choice of first publisher was a rather ill-fated one.
When this London based publishing house signed up Francis for their popular colour series, they promised him riches. He wrote one book for them Peoples of the World (1964) which was reprinted in 1971, and again, with a new cover in 1975. It was translated into French by Robert Déaux, and published by Ferdinand Nathan, Paris, in their collection Nouveaux Guides du Naturaliste, in 1965. His brother Anthony joined him with these two publishing houses with various books on flowers. The promised riches did not materialise, and more often than not, Francis would not refer to this book on the sleeve notes of his later writings. We suspect Francis regarded it as something of a taboo book.
Francis signed a contract with Aldus on the 16th September 1969 for a work provisionally entitled The Sacred. It would become The Way of the Sacred (1974). Roy Gasson was Francis’ editor for this book. He later edited, The Illustrated Lewis Carroll (1978) which would certainly have amused Francis, given his own interests in Carroll. After Theodor read this book the first time, he had written to Francis about his reading experience. Francis replied, on 21. September 1977:
I’m very touched by your pleasure in my book. It’s a curious thing about writing, that one’s own book seems marvellous when it is first published, and then slowly but surely it shows back all one’s defects of writing. But if it weren’t for that I suppose one wouldn’t bother to get onto the next one. But I’m very pleased that you liked it.
Aldus books became Francis’ second important publisher, run by Wolfgang Foges (1910-1986). Aldus Books, founded in 1960, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Doubleday and Co. Inc. of New York. It was first based in Oxford Street and by the time Francis entered the picture had purpose-built offices in Fitzroy Square. This publisher was working with such famed figures as Marc Chagall and Carl Gustav Jung. His illustrated book, Man and his Symbols was published successfully in 1964 and its publication was deemed one of the publisher’s great triumphs. The Way of the Sacred was pitched very much in the same line – as a coffee table book, produced to high standards and capable of catching the imagination of readers who enjoyed food for thought.
Foges, an Austrian born, had married into Great Britain in 1936. In Vienna he previously had edited a fashion magazine being friends with Frederick Ullstein, of the same named publishing House, one of the largest in Europe. “Foges, a volcanic Orson Wellesian figure for whom nothing was too ambitious or too lavish.” Due to the Nazi Terror, like all the Jewish families, Ullstein was forced out of business. Frederick Ullstein later found himself working at Aldus Books. Previously Forges founded and ran Adprint, a business venture called book packaging, “in which book ideas are conceived, commissioned, produced and sold to publishers.” They created and produced many lavishly illustrated books; the best known were the 120 volumes of the Britain in Pictures series. They published Bertrand Russel, David Ben Gurion, J.B. Priestly and Julian Huxley.
Foges dominated this publishing venture, with a staff of roughly seventy people and had on his side an editorial board which included Jacob Bronowski and Julian Huxley. Julian Huxley had been a key board member since July, 1958. On the general editorial board, he undertook special advisory duties; receiving a fee of 150 guineas per volume as editor. Foges and Julian had a lively correspondence. One such example follows. It shows how Julien committed himself as a member of the editorial board for his then 39 year old son Francis! On 13th June, 1962, Julian wrote to the secretary, Frame Smith, about Donald Berwick, the editor of the Sociology book for which Francis was writing a chapter. He was concerend as Francis had told him that Berwick had wanted to cut out all of Francis’ text about the social functions and background of art and decoration, and indeed everything except the “role” of the artist, on the ground that “Art” was going to be covered by another volume. Julian wrote
This seems to me wholly unjustified: a volume on sociology must have something on the sociology of art. As Spilling had first got Francis to write this chapter, I rang him up about the situation and he confirmed what I have said. However, he went further and said that Berwick was apparently thinking of getting a whole new chapter written in place of Francis’ one, whereas Spilling had told him that it would be perfectly easy to revise it to fit in with the rest of the book.
Francis often said, he needed the cash, when he was writing this book. There was a moment, where he felt not fairly treated. When he went back to Foges and told him, “I will not write another word, until I get more money,” his confrontational approached proved successful. Later, having realised how many reprints this well-known book of his had gone through (including translations into Portuguese and Dutch hardbacks), the last one in 1989 (fifteen years after it was first published) it left a sour aftertaste.
Thames & Hudson
With Thames & Hudson, Huxley published four books. He was friends with Thomas Neurath, the son of the founders (Eva and Walther Neurath) who, like Sigmund Freud, had had to leave his beloved Vienna in 1938, where he ran an art gallery. Neurath had,
initially worked as production director of Adprint, a business established by fellow Viennese émigré Wolfgang Foges. Neurath and Foges went on to pioneer the concept of what is today known as book packaging (or co-edition publishing), in which book ideas are conceived, commissioned, produced and sold to publishers operating in different markets and in different languages in order to create large print-runs and thereby lower unit production costs. Neurath’s concept was the first of many innovations that through Thames & Hudson he would introduce to the world of publishing.
In 1949, Neurath established his own publishing house, incorporating offices in London and New York with Eva Neurath as co-founder. Their booklist was from the beginning an indication of the breadth of Thames & Hudson’s programme.
In 1958, Thames & Hudson launched what remains one of its best-known series, the World of Art; and later Art and Imagination. Francis published The Dragon (1979) and The Eye (1990) in this series. Besides Francis, a number of esteemed academics published in this house, including Asa Briggs, Hugh Trevor-Roper and John Julius Norwich. Thames and Hudson remain one of the prime publishers in Europe over the last 50 years. Thomas Neurath, who knew Francis well, from 1961 onwards, worked in his parents publishing house as managing director, joined by his sister Constance, who became art director. When we contacted Tom Neurath, he wrote:
Thanks so much. And yes, I certainly felt strong bonds of friendship with Francis, as well as much respect for his remarkable speed of thought to name only one of his exceptional aspects.
Jill Purce was the general and commissioning editor of the Art and Imagination series. She tells her story of how it all started.
Thomas Neurath used to come around and visit me. We talked late into the night and he thought I was going to do the series, and did I have any ideas? I sent him a list of ideas and he said okay, why don‘t you become the general editor back in 1972. That‘s how it started. As general editor I commissioned The Dragon from Francis. My job was to think of titles and get authors to do these titles. I found the Dragon a fun subject. I work with the authors on the illustrations. I asked Francis if he would like to do it together. Yes, he wanted to. We would gather all the possible illustrations, took over the whole library of Thames and Hudson‘s, put them all on the floor. I was juxtaposing images which set out more than the individual images. I inducted him into this experience. It was a kind of dance, which was always fun, and some authors were better than others.
Jill had read two of Francis’ previous books, Affable Savages and The Way of the Sacred, the latter of which was much in line with the Art and Imagination series. When his second book in the series The Eye was published in 1990, Jill was no longer in charge. She had written The Mystic Spiral (1974) for the series, which Francis obviously knew about. Francis thought that Jill had the most amazing esoteric library he had seen. In later years, Thomas Neurath would ask Jill how Francis was doing.
I was thinking he‘s enquiring about how Francis was writing the Mutual Self, because Francis got that advance of £2,000 for this already. Thomas was wondering if he will ever get the book.
When we got back to Thomas Neurath about the sales of Francis books, he told us that: “Francis‘ sales figures…for certain titles, The Dragon probably rather The Eye, were up to the 50,000-copy mark or almost with many translated editions.
In 2000, Thames and Hudson H published what would prove to be Francis’ last book, which he edited with Jeremy Narby;, Shamans Trough Time – 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge. His book project of The Mutual Self, for which the aforesaid advance had been paid, was not completed.
The first translation of Affable Savages was done by Konstantin Milles, for this publishing house in Zagreb, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with a population of approximately 21 Million. In 1958 Prijazni Divljaci was published with a first print run of the usual 3,000 copies. Milles (1922-1989) was a journalist and translator. He had studied law in Zagreb, participated in the anti-fascist war as a war correspondent. Afterwards he was an editor of Radio Zagreb (1946) and Epoha Publishing Company, translating 35 books in all.
This book went into a second edition in 1961. The social anthropological society at that time in Yugoslavia, was very active, and appreciative of Francis’ narrative anthropology. Francis was very proud of this fact.
Thanks to the translation of Affable Savages, by Monique Lévi-Strauss, first published in 1960 as Amiables Sauvages, this book went into various reprints in hard cover as well as paperback (see FH Bibliography). When we wrote to his publisher Plon in Paris, asking how many books were sold so far, Marguerite Mignon-Quibel replied that “Plon sold approximately 13,000 pieces of the book, throughout the different prints of the book.” Monique Lévi-Strauss gratefully responded to our request for any further information:
Francis and I did correspond while I was translating his book, but that was sixty years ago, and I did not keep our letters. I am not aware of a correspondence between FH and CLS. My husband had great esteem for FH and he thought his work was most valuable. He would not have advised me to translate his book had he thought otherwise. I cannot remember FH‘s presence among the guests when my husband received his honorary degree in Oxford in 1964. We never visited Sir Julian and Lady Huxley in London, but I do remember meeting Sir Julian at a formal reception at UNESCO in Paris. Francis did visit us in our apartment in Paris. I have forgotten the conversation but am pretty sure we talked about the translation of his book.
The remark I care to volunteer is that Francis was against the title AIMABLES SAUVAGES. So was I, so was Claude. But Malaurie, who was our publisher at PLON, told us we had to follow the advice of the commercial direction. Claude tried to convince him it was a poor title, in vain. Francis never believed I had done my best to avoid this title and preferred the English one, that reads well in French. He never wrote to me again, did not thank me for the translation. I was hurt and I never forgave Malaurie. You can imagine my surprise when the last reprint of the French translation came out two years ago bearing the title I had asked for.
I hope I am not disappointing you. Best wishes,
In the 2010 edition of Affable Souvages, in Plon’s ‘Bibliotheque Terre Humains’ the publisher included a section of Débats et critiques (p.331 – 345). In a letter to Theodor Itten, in May, 2010, Huxley had this to say about the critiques;
… the present issue with a small packet of eulogies critiques from 1960, none of which I knew of at the time, and none from the UK. My old professor of anthropology, Evans-Pritchard, did once ask me why the latest crop of authors, like myself, were writing travel books rather than monographs - oh dear me! See that one French critique that said of the book ‘what a dive to the bottom of human nature!’ would have been balm had I read it at the time – not to mention the title of another piece, ‘Read Francis Huxley today!’ Wow. So, thank you for giving my present address to the French publishers – who have belatedly changed their erroneous translation of the book’s title from Aimable to Affables Souvages.
Francis published various articles in this magazine, which was founded and edited by Julian’s cousin Michael Huxley, the brother of Gervas, the husband of Elspeth Huxley. Definitely a family affair! Elspeth also enjoyed journalism and occasionally wrote for the Geographical magazine too. Her husband Gervas had asked his famous cousin Julian to write a quote for the jacked of her first book, published by Harold Raymond of Chatto & Windus – this also being Aldous’ publisher. This is a small example of how the Huxleys had useful contacts. The Huxleys and Raymonds became good friends. In 1947 Elspeth was invited to serve on the BBC Advisor Council, making her married name grow further.
Francis Huxley’s Publishers
Below we list all the various imprints under which Francis work was published. His books were translated into Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Serbo-Croat (Bosnian/Serbian/Croation) and Spanish.
Chapters in 11 books published by