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The Bodley Head

The Bodley Head
Parent company Random House
Founded 1887
Founder John Lane and Elkin Mathews
Country of origin United Kingdom
Headquarters location London
Publication types Books
Official website

The Bodley Head is an English publishing house, founded in 1887 and existing as an independent entity until the 1970s. The name was used as an imprint of Random House Children's Books from 1987 to 2008. In April 2008, it was revived as an adult non-fiction imprint within Random House's CCV division.


  • History 1
  • Relaunch 2
  • See also 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Originally John Lane and Elkin Mathews — The Bodley Head was a partnership set up in 1887 by John Lane (1854–1925) and Elkin Mathews (1851–1921), to trade in antiquarian books in London. It took its name from a bust of Sir Thomas Bodley, the eponymist of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, above the shop door. Lane and Matthews began in 1894 to publish works of ‘stylish decadence’, including the notorious literary periodical The Yellow Book. Also notable amongst Bodley Head's pre-Great War books were the two volume sets: Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1910 and later editions, selling over fifty thousand copies), and Immanuel Kant, both by Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

  • Official website
  • Archives of the Bodley Head Ltd at Reading University

External links

  1. ^ "Obituaries - Mr Herbert Jenkins". The Times. 9 June 1923. p. 12. Retrieved 26 March 2012.  (Subscription required for online access)
  2. ^ "Archives of The Bodley Head Ltd - University of Reading". Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  3. ^ "Bodley Head". Vintage Books. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 


  • Stetz, Margaret; Lasner, Mark Samuels (1990). England in the 1890s: Literary Publishing at the Bodley Head. Georgetown Univ Press. ISBN 0-87840-509-7.
  • J W Lambert and Michael Ratcliffe The Bodley Head 1887-1987 The story of John Lane, Allen Lane, Unwin and Max Reinhardt and their links with Bodley Head. ISBN 0-370-30949-9.


See also

The Bodley Head imprint was relaunched by Random House as an adult imprint in April 2008. Its two principal strands are stated to be books “of scholarship in both the humanities and sciences”, and books which “contribute to the intellectual and cultural climate of our times”.[3]


The archives of The Bodley Head Ltd are kept at Reading University.[2]

Bought in 1957 by Graham Greene, Charles Chaplin, William Trevor, Maurice Sendak, Muriel Spark, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Sam Haskins and Alistair Cooke. Max Reinhardt was also responsible for the expansion of one of the outstanding children's books lists in modern publishing. The imprint was still important in the 1970s when it was drawn into the Jonathan Cape/Chatto and Windus group. The firm was sold to Random House in 1987, who published children's books under The Bodley Head name until 2008.

In the 1930s, "The Bodley Head" was used as a series title by Penguin Books. For Example A Short History of the World by H.G. Wells appeared in the series in 1936.

. Penguin Books, John Lane's nephew who had inherited control, finally left to found Allen Lane. J. M. Dent, and Jonathan Cape, Allen & Unwin but ran into financial difficulties. It continued after 1936 backed by a consortium of Agatha Christie and Arnold Bennett. The firm published some mainstream popular authors such as J. B. Priestley edited by anthology, an Book of Bodley Head Verse The Bodley Head became a private company in 1921. In 1926 it published the [1]

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