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Michael Joseph: Master of Words - Richard Joseph

Ashford Press Publishing, 1986, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Price Clipped.

Illustrated by way of: Black & White Photographs; Black & White Drawings; Genealogical Tables to the endpapers and blanks;

From the cover: “Master of Words is the long overdue biography of Michael Joseph, the gifted literary agent and author who founded the now famous firm of publishers and who did so much to revolutionise the world of publishing.

Written by Michael’s son Richard, this book is the result of two years of painstaking research. By sifting through trunks of old letters, piles of press cuttings and an attic bursting with literary riches, Richard began finally to gain the complete picture of his fascinating and multi-talented father.

Born in 1897 “MJ” left school at 16 to join the army and subsequently serve in both World Wars. He worked as a highly-respected journalist between the wars, but was destined to reach the height of his career as he began work as a literary agent with Curtis Brown.

It was here that his startling ability to recognise and develop new literary talent made Michael Joseph very much the new doyen of the publishing world.

He soon left Curtis Brown to start his own publishing house, which grew into the hugely successful Michael Joseph Ltd. of today.

Some of the many famous authors that MJ befriended and encouraged are Michael Arlen, Stacy Aumomer, H. E. Bates, Monica Dickens, Paul Gallico, Daphne du Maurier, C. S. Forester and Richard Llewelyn. Later authors include Miss Read (Dora Saint), Dick Francis (who rode for him) and the late Duchess of Windsor, whose biography title he acquired, against stiff opposition, as a result of his earlier meetings with Edward VIII. The list is endless with the result that today many authors owe their fame to his efforts.

MJ was also a prolific writer and journalist with some 17 books to his name, some of which became bestsellers in their own right. His famous cat books were tremendously popular — particularly Charles — The Story of Friendship, and Best Cat Stories.

He also wrote a highly successful series on journalism and creative writing; Journalism for Profit and The Commercial Side of Literature featured on bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic.

MJ’s quite considerable prowess as an author has long been overshadowed by his publishing successes — but it is perhaps this which MJ himself would most like to be remembered for.

His personal life was as varied as his career; he was of course

destined to mix in a social circle that many can only dream of, and the anecdotes of so many notable personalities make this biography sparkle with humour and life. Cats were MJ’s private passion and his Siamese cat, Charles, features in many of his photographs and portraits and was his constant companion. His cats, race-horses and myriad famous and eccentric friends mix in and out of his absorbing life. MJ was married three times -firstly to Hermione Gingold, then to Edna, who died so tragically and finally to Anthea, who became the strength behind the company after his death in 1958.

Master of Words is an affectionate and nostalgic look at a highly-respected and intriguing man; it is also a brilliant evocation of the style and atmosphere of Britain through the first half of this century.”


Jacket designed by Cathy Fitton. Foreword or introduction by Monica Dickens. Size: 10" x 6¼". Grey boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. [XVIII] 238 pages.
£7.50