Christopher MacLehose

Christopher Colin MacLehose CBE[1] (born 1940)[2] is a British publisher who in 2008 founded the MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus Books. He was previously notable as publisher of Harvill Press (from 1984 to 2004),[3][4][5] where his successes included bringing out the stories of Raymond Carver and Richard Ford for the first time in Britain.[6] Having published works translated from more than 34 languages,[7] MacLehose has been referred to as "the champion of translated fiction"[8] and as "British publishing's doyen of literature in translation".[9] He is generally credited with introducing to an English-speaking readership the best-selling Swedish author Stieg Larsson[10][11][12][13] and other prize-winning authors, among them Sergio De La Pava, who has described MacLehose as "an outsize figure literally and figuratively – that's an individual who has devoted his life to literature".[14]

Christopher MacLehose
Christopher Colin MacLehose

EducationShrewsbury School;
Worcester College, Oxford University

Early lifeEdit

Christopher MacLehose was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July 1940 into a family that was involved with the book trade as printers, booksellers and publishers, which he has described as "seven generations, all of them second sons".[2] He was educated at Shrewsbury School (1953–58),[15] and read history at Worcester College, Oxford University.[16]


MacLehose took a job at the Glasgow Herald, where he hoped to stay for six months to gain the experience that would enable him to work for the recently founded Independent Television News; however, his ambitions changed direction after a few weeks: "I realised ... I wanted to work with language and words," MacLehose said in a 2012 interview.[2] So he worked in the editorial office of the family printing factory by day, while freelancing by night for The Herald writing reviews and obituaries.[2] Eventually, he was offered employment as literary editor of The Scotsman, following which he moved in 1967 to London and went into book publishing, initially as an editor at the Cresset Press (part of the Barrie Group), with P. G. Wodehouse among his authors,[2][8] as well as George MacDonald Fraser of Flashman fame, who had been the features editor of the Glasgow Herald when MacLehose was there.[17] MacLehose subsequently became editorial director of Chatto & Windus, and then editor-in-chief of William Collins.[18][19]

In 1984 MacLehose took charge of the Harvill imprint, of which he was publisher for the next 20 years, with a well respected list that specialised in translation and included such titles as Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and Peter Høeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow.[8] In 1995 MacLehose led a management buy-out of Harvill and for the following seven years characterised the company as "a bridge across cultures",[20] counting among his authors Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, W. G. Sebald, José Saramago, Georges Perec, Claudio Magris and P. O. Enquist.[8][21] In 1992 the company was bought by Random House[22][23] and two years later MacLehose left.[8]

He then set up the MacLehose Press, whose motto is "Read the World",[24] as "an independently minded imprint" of Quercus Books (itself founded in 2004).[25][26][27] The first titles were published in January 2008,[28] and among these was the best-selling psychological thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Swedish author Stieg Larsson.[29] Other international authors published by MacLehose Press include Bernardo Atxaga,[30] Dulce Maria Cardoso,[31] Philippe Claudel,[32] Otto de Kat, Maylis de Kerangal, Virginie Despentes, Joël Dicker,[33][34] Sophie Divry, Per Olov Enquist, Roy Jacobsen, Jaan Kross, Andrey Kurkov, David Lagercrantz, Pierre Lemaitre, Élmer Mendoza, Patrick Modiano, Marie NDiaye, Daniel Pennac, Lydie Salvayre, Żanna Słoniowska, and Valerio Varesi.[35][36]

With "a reputation as a master at finding foreign fiction by writers such as Henning Mankell and Haruki Murakami and turning them into English language hits",[37] MacLehose has said: "When I first came into publishing, there was André Deutsch, Fredric Warburg, Ernest Hecht, Manya Harari, George Weidenfeld – a generation of multilingual people who came to England bringing the assumption that books that had to be translated were no different.... You simply published the best you could find and if you had to translate them, you just got on with it."[38]

Awards and honoursEdit

In 2006 MacLehose received the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award for International Publishing.[39][40]

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the publishing industry in the 2011 New Year Honours.[41][42]

In 2016 he was awarded the Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature.[43]


  1. ^ "Honours List: Order of the British Empire, CBE", The Independent, 31 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Nicholas Wroe, "Christopher MacLehose: A life in publishing", The Guardian, 28 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Darja Marinšek presents Christopher MacLehose, MacLehose Press", Frankfurter Buchmesse, 2016.
  4. ^ Christopher MacLehose profile at London Book Fair.
  5. ^ Christopher MacLehose, "A Publisher’s Vision", EnterText 4.3 Supplement.
  6. ^ Sebastian Faulks, "My week", The Observer, 12 April 2009.
  7. ^ "MacLehose Press Publishing Programme", Creative Europe Desk UK.
  8. ^ a b c d e Anthony Gardner, "Christopher MacLehose: The champion of translated fiction who struck it rich with Stieg Larsson", 2010.
  9. ^ The Literator, "Cover Stories: Christopher MacLehose", The Independent, 28 September 2006.
  10. ^ Joshua Melvin, "French crime fiction set to eclipse Scandi-noir", AFP–The Local, 20 February 2014.
  11. ^ Helen Rowe, "After ScandiNoir, French are new crime fiction stars", DAWN, 24 February 2014.
  12. ^ Gaby Wood, "How Karl Ove Knausgaard and Elena Ferrante won us over", The Daily Telegraph, 28 February 2016.
  13. ^ Henry Williams, "Old is the new young, which is great news for idlers like me", The Spectator, 3 August 2016.
  14. ^ Susanna Rustin, "Sergio De La Pava: 'My book's not perfect, but it's what I set out to do. I wanted it to have a propulsive, angry core'", The Guardian, 27 June 2014.
  15. ^ The Salopian, Issue 148, Summer 2011, p. 41.
  16. ^ "MacLehose, Christopher Colin", Who's Who & Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  17. ^ Christopher MacLehose, "The derring-do that created Flashman", The Spectator, 24 May 2014.
  18. ^ Hrvoje Bozicevic, "The life and death of Harvill Press: Save the Leopard!", Literature & Translation, UNESCO, 17 November 2004.
  19. ^ Lucinda Byatt, "At two ends of the publishing continuum: Harvill Secker’s celebrates its (cumulative) centenary and Vagabond Voices", 1 October 2009.
  20. ^ Andrew Franklin, "From Small Beginnings", The Independent, 11 May 1996.
  21. ^ Baret Magariani, "Patrician hauteur. Interview – Christopher MacLehose", New Statesman, 26 February 1999.
  22. ^ "Harvill press joins The Random House Group", PR Newswire.
  23. ^ Rod Stewart, "Adapting to acquisition", The Bookseller, 3 August 2003.
  24. ^ Sam Leith, "Leith on language: Found in translation", Prospect, 16 March 2017 (April issue).
  25. ^ Michael Thwaite, "MacLehose joins with Quercus", Ready Steady Book, 21 September 2006.
  26. ^ "ABOUT MACLEHOSE PRESS". MacLehose Press. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  27. ^ "About us", Quercus.
  28. ^ Joshua Farrington, "MacLehose Press celebrates fifth anniversary", The Bookseller, 21 December 2012.
  29. ^ "What publishers can do when a best-selling author dies", BBC News, 23 December 2013.
  30. ^ "A Basque writer contemplates America", The Economist, 10 August 2017.
  31. ^ "#RivetingReviews: Rosie Goldsmith reviews THE RETURN by Dulce Maria Cardoso", European Literature Network, 15 September 2017.
  32. ^ Boyd Tonkin, "Philippe Claudel wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize", The Independent, 13 May 2010.
  33. ^ Liz Bury, "Dan Brown-trumping French bestseller due in English next year", The Guardian, 6 December 2013.
  34. ^ Katherine Cowdrey"'Harry Quebert' companion novel to MacLehose", The Bookseller, 19 July 2016.
  35. ^ Ian Thomson, "Modern Italy’s heart of darkness", The Spectator, 26 March 2016.
  36. ^ "Books", MacLehose Press.
  37. ^ Nick Clark, "The publishing house that Stieg Larsson built", The Independent, 5 August 2010.
  38. ^ Andrew Jack, "Translators: Publishing’s unsung heroes at work", Financial Times, 6 October 201.
  39. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award", Trilogy, 12 January 2005.
  40. ^ Lifetime Achievement Award, London Book Fair.
  41. ^ "New Year Honours—United Kingdom", The London Gazette, 31 December 2010, Supplement No. 1, p. 8.
  42. ^ Graeme Neill, "Weidenfeld and MacLehose lauded in New Year's Honours list", The Bookseller, 4 January 2011.
  43. ^ "The Benson Medal", The Royal Society of Literature.

External linksEdit