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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.
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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. 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.
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:
- Duckworth General publishes literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction, including history, biography and memoir. As of 2007[update], authors include John Bayley, Beryl Bainbridge, Robert Littell, Joan Bakewell, Valerie Grosvenor Myer, Mary Warnock, William Vollmann and Helmut Newton. The company claims recent successes with Clive Woodall’s One for Sorrow and J. J. Connolly's Layer Cake, which reached numbers one and two respectively on the independent publisher bestseller list, as well as Layer Cake's 2011 sequel Viva La Madness.
- Duckworth Academic publishes scholarly monographs, specialising in history and related areas, including Archaeology, Classics, Ancient History and Ancient Philosophy. It has an extensive backlist of titles published under the Duckworth and Bristol Classical Press imprints, and these include school and student texts in Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German and Spanish language and literature. Bloomsbury acquired the imprint in 2010; it continues under the Bristol Classical Press name
- Ardis publishes Russian literature in translation.
- Duckworth has republished a number of editions of Charles Dickens' novels, first issued by the Nonesuch Press, featuring illustrations chosen by Dickens himself. These are highly collectible editions, and are very popular with Dickens enthusiasts.
- "Trade". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
- http://publishingtrends.com/[clarification needed]
- "Mayer's Duckworth sold to Prelude for undisclosed sum | The Bookseller". Retrieved 2019-07-21.
- University of London archive catalogue