Archives of The Bodley Head Ltd

The publishing firm The Bodley Head was founded in 1887 by Charles Elkin Mathews and John Lane. At various times the company absorbed the firms of Bowes and Bowes Ltd, Hollis and Carter Ltd, Putnams Ltd and Werner Laurie Ltd, some of whose records are included in the collection.

This large collection consists mainly of material relating to Bodley Head publications 1964-1989, including correspondence, publicity material, financial records, contracts, royalty statements and reader's reports.

There is also some correspondence covering the earlier period, most from 1929-1935. These earlier records have been catalogued as the John Lane Papers (archive reference: JL) because the company was at this time known as John Lane at the Bodley Head.

There are no records in the collection for before c1918. The majority of early company records are held in the John Lane Company Collection at the Harry Ransom Centre, Austin, Texas: http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/fasearch/findingAid.cfm?eadid=00207

In addition, there are few or no records for the years 1936 to 1960 when the company was run by a consortium of publishers.

Researchers wishing to consult this collection are required to obtain permission prior to access. Please see the Archive of Random House publishers page for more information.

Contents

The collection consists of the following series:

  • JL: John Lane correspondence files, concerning much of the company’s publishing output. Each title has its own folder with corresponding reference number. Date between c.1918 and c.1936.
  • JL RR: John Lane reader’s reports, dating between 1926 and 1932. A report was created for each manuscript submitted, and was used to decide whether a manuscript was suitable for publication. 
  • BH1 C: files from the Children’s Books Editorial Department, dating between 1976 and 1981.
  • BH1-3: Correspondence files, largely concerning the editing and publishing of titles aimed at adults, mainly dating from the 1960s and 1980s. These files were transferred from Random House in various deposits. Each new deposit was given a new prefix – hence BH1, BH2, etc.
  • BH1 APU: Author’s publicity files. Files created for many of the authors published by Bodley Head, Date between the 1930s to 1980s.
  • BH1 BPU: Book publicity files, arranged by book title, 1960s to 1980s.
  • BH1 CAPU: Children’s author publicity files. Files created for many of the authors published by Bodley Head, 1950s to 1970s.
  • BH1 CBPU: Children’s book publicity files, arranged by book title, 1960s to 1980s.
  • BH1 CMPU: Miscellaneous publicity files: children's books. Mainly concerning children’s literary organisations and events, 1970s to 1980s.
  • BH1 CRPU: Review files for children’s books arranged by book title, 1950s to 1980s.
  • BH1 RPU: Review files for books aimed at adults, arranged by title, 1930s to 1970s.
  • BH1 RR: Reader’s reports, 1930s to 1960s with many undated. A report was created for each manuscript submitted, and was used to decide whether a manuscript was suitable for publication.

More information

  • Around 2000 reader's reports and correspondence files can be found on Enterprise
  •  A full description is available from our online database
literature, publishing history, children’s literature correspondence, business records Y bodley head

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