Duckworth Books

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Duckworth Books, originally Gerald Duckworth and Company, founded in 1898 by Gerald Duckworth, is an independent British publisher. It was important in the development of English literature in the first half of the twentieth century, when it published such writers as Virginia Woolf (the founder's half-sister), W. H. Davies, Anthony Powell, John Galsworthy and D. H. Lawrence. It continues to be respected and successful within the publishing industry.

Duckworth Books
Parent companyPrelude
Founded1898; 122 years ago (1898)
FounderGerald Duckworth
Country of originUK
Headquarters locationLondon
DistributionBloomsbury Publishing[1]
Publication typesBooks


Duckworth printers mark c. 1898

For many years the company operated from a headquarters at Camden, North London, in a building called 'The Old Piano Factory'. This was originally a piano factory and its charm – as well as the keen eye of the firm's long-standing chairman Colin Haycraft, together with his wife Anna (who was fiction editor, and also eventually a novelist in her own right under the pen name Alice Thomas Ellis) – attracted some of the best and most notable 'characters' of the writing community of the day. The main stock-in-trade was the production and publication of academic books for universities. The company kept its eye on market trends and opportunities, publishing a variety of books by some of the most popular authors of the twentieth century. It widened its range when it entered the world of publishing computing books at the start of the microcomputer revolution including Music and Sound Effects on the Commodore 64 by William Turner and Alf Vella.

In 2003 the company suffered a financial collapse and was put into receivership. Its assets were bought by Peter Mayer, a former chief executive of Penguin Books, who already owned The Overlook Press of New York City. The May 2007 edition of Publishing Trends reported that Duckworth's trade books were then published under the Duckworth/Overlook imprint.[2] In 2012 Duckworth in London and Overlook in New York continue to work together to produce and promote their publications.

In 2006 Duckworth published An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin by Rohan Kriwaczek, subsequently reported to be a hoax, the funerary violin having never existed. Kriwaczek had all along designed the work as a pastiche and Duckworth profited handsomely from the media coverage.

After Mayer's death in 2018, Duckworth was sold to Prelude Books.[3]

Duckworth publishes a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, from authors such as Charles McCarry, Robert Littell and Brian Clegg, spanning history, popular science, biography and memoir, literary fiction, and even children's titles. The company now operates from an office in Farringdon, London.


Duckworth has a number of imprints:

Bloomsbury acquisitionEdit

In 2010, Duckworth's academic list was acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing. The 13-digit ISBN prefix for Duckworth is 978-07156.

Archives of the company from 1936 are held by the University of London, and include editorial correspondence with authors.[4]


  1. ^ "Trade". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  2. ^[clarification needed]
  3. ^ "Mayer's Duckworth sold to Prelude for undisclosed sum | The Bookseller". Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  4. ^ University of London archive catalogue

External linksEdit