Stuart Kells reveals the truth about Allen Lane and Penguin Books


Manage episode 327388391 series 2416011
By Nigel Beale. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Author/historian Stuart Kells has been chasing rare books and other bookish treasures since childhood. In the 1980s he went for classic sci-fi paperbacks from Ace and Dell, and authors such as Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein. When he moved to Melbourne in the summer of 1989 he was amazed by the city’s bookshops, especially secondhand shops - notably Alice’s and Sainsbury’s in Carlton. When ​he wasn’t looking for books​ here he was fossicking in the Co-op bookshop at Melbourne University, or hunting for ​them at markets and fetes. For the past 26 years​ he's been a regular at Camberwell Market where great books can be found, along with almost everything else. Vividly remembered finds include Iain Banks and Vikram Seth firsts; classic Australian crime pulps; rare maps; and advertising and ephemera of every kind. I connected with Stuart recently via Zoom to talk about Penguin and the Lane Brothers, ​his revealing, myth-busting book about the intimate partnership of Allen, Richard and John Lane – and how it explains the success of Penguin Books, the twentieth century’s "greatest publishing house." We talk about the spirit of daring and creative opposition that drove the brothers to publish so many quality books on such a massive scale at such affordable prices – and how together they achieved a revolution in modern book publishing.

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