Peter Owen, Not a Nice Jewish Boy: Memoirs of a Maverick by Peter Owen, James Nye
In this wry, candid and sometimes poignant memoir, Peter Owen recalls his lonely Jewish boyhood in Nazi Germany and migration to England where he survived the London Blitz, a teenage dalliance with aspiring actress Fenella Fielding, and working with a motley variety of book publishers. He founded his eponymous publishing firm in 1951, becoming one of the youngest publishers in Britain. A pioneer of books on social themes, gay and lesbian writing and literature in translation, Owen’s authors included ten Nobel laureates and brought Hermann Hesse, Ezra Pound and Anaïs Nin to a wider audience. Enjoying their success, he and his wife Wendy were memorably stylish and eccentric figures at the literary parties of the 1960s and 1970s. Owen describes his often hilarious encounters with many of those he published, including John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Salvador Dalí, his adventures in Japan with Yukio Mishima and Shūsaku Endō, and in Morocco with Tennessee Williams and Paul and Jane Bowles. As one of the last of the great émigré publishers, his death in 2016 aged 89 signalled the end of a literary era.
Year first published: 2021