My Collection of Books by Everyman's Library

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No David Campbell, No Modern Day Everyman's Library

The Prelude to Mr. Campbell's Savior Story

Joseph Dent started Everyman’s Library in 1906; David Campbell resurrected it in 1990.


It would be easy to fall in love with the beautiful Everyman’s Library literary classics, and while reading these gems, get swept away with the writing of Flaubert, Eliot, Dickens, Wharton, Tolstoy, et al. You could find yourself years-deep into the prose of Marcel Proust. Or you could get swept away with the poetry of Keats, the sonnets of Shakespeare, or the Psalms of the Old Testament – and finally, after all that reading and then some, say to yourself, “Wow, these books – with their erudite introductions, their cloth bindings, their silk ribbon bookmarks, and their wonderfully descriptive and beautiful dust jackets are incredible - who makes them?” – to which one would then see a name such as Random House on a copyright page or Knopf written in gold on one of the cloth spines – and with the discovery of these names, be satisfy as to their maker. Nice job Random House and on with your day you’d go. And you wouldn’t be wrong, for Random House does a great job – and then some!


But if any Everyman’s Library enthusiast decides or happens to dig further, one will quickly realize that without a gentleman by the name of David Campbell – the Publisher of Everyman’s Library/The Savior of the Everyman’s Library Imprint! – the modern day Everyman’s Library editions (what I collect and this website is dedicated to) simply would not exist.


In short, No David Campbell, No modern day Everyman’s Library!


So Here's the Story of Campbell's Brilliance In a Nutshell

A Compilation of Article Snipets Reveals Mr. Campbell's Story

  • Campbell's love of books began in childhood. He was brought up in the Scottish Borders, and still feels semi-tied to Scotland, where he and his wife, Alexandra, have bought and restored a 1790 Palladian house in Argyllshire. He is drawn, he says, to wildernesses, and he still takes pleasure in the country pursuits such as fishing, which he enjoyed with his family as a child.¹
  • At Eton, David Campbell appreciated the privilege of having a school library that held a Gutenberg Bible. Then at Oxford, where he read English, his tutor, Jonathan Wordsworth, had "a marvellous collection of 17th-century first editions". Campbell continued to buy "huge numbers" of old books.¹
  • Educated at Oxford, he then spent a year travelling in Asia and Europe in the febrile atmosphere of 1968 – and then went back to his university to seek career advice. 'I went to the Oxford appointments board and because I spoke a few languages and I had been in Prague in 1968 when the Russians invaded, they wanted to make me a spy. I said, 'But I want to be a publisher!'’²
  • Campbell's early career was in French publishing and he rose to become a board member at publishing group Hachette. 'I've been a corporate boardroom honcho,' he says.²
  • While in France he developed an attachment to Pleiade – the French series of classics, cloth bound with beautiful typeface. ²
  • He conceived the idea of a similar venture [like the Pleiade series of classics] in English and decided the Everyman's Library – by then a tired and unfashionable name – was the perfect vehicle. An initial attempt to buy the company was rejected.²
  • The name [Everyman’s Library] had been in the doldrums for decades. Founded in 1906 by Joseph Dent, it had been revolutionary in its day for providing pocket-sized editions of the classics at a shilling. The books were exquisitely produced - Dent was committed to high design ideals, employing the talents of Aubrey Beardsley, among others.¹ 
  • [But] After the paperback revolution of the mid-20th century, the imprint [the original/old Everyman’s Library] lost its way. The Everyman hardbacks of the post-war years lacked the aesthetic appeal of their predecessors; the introduction of the paperback in 1960 was far too late to compete with its rivals.¹
  • The next chance [of saving the imprint] came years later when Everyman was bought by one of publishing's biggest names, George Weidenfeld. 'I thought that was the death of my dream, and that George would do something amazing with it.’ said Campbell.²
  • Then I heard on the grapevine that George had a bit of a cashflow hiccup. We had coffee and he said to me, 'When can you let me have the money?' Of course, at that moment I did not have any money. I had to borrow well over £1 million.'²

AND THE REST IS HISTORY


  • Twenty years ago [now 28 years ago] David Campbell relaunched Everyman’s Library with the aim of producing beautiful books in hardback that would withstand the ravages of time. The original Library [as we know by now] was the brainchild of Joseph Dent (1849-1926), a self-taught London bookbinder who, in 1906, adopted the motto, ‘Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side.’  Then as now it is quoted in all the books in the Everyman’s Library.³
  • Recalling “when he bought and relaunched the ailing Everyman business in 1990,” Campbell states: 'I rented three floors of a little Georgian house above a sex shop in a side street in Soho. It did not occur to me to ask if there was electricity in every room and there wasn't, so we were sending out notes by a guttering candle,' he says.² 
  • The business was eventually bought by Random House and, after a series of wider takeovers in publishing, is now part of the vast German publishing empire of Bertelsmann.²
  • But Campbell is still in charge of his corner of the empire, pursuing his belief in quality hardback books, with stitched binding and paper that lasts.²
  • Campbell's idea was to transform Everyman into "a hardback permanent library of record", which would provide classics in a more durable format than the modern paperback, but similar in price. The poet Craig Raine, a great friend and supporter, thinks David Campbell has come up with "one of those brilliant single inventions, like the umbrella or the washing-machine, that change cultural behaviour. Now, everyone can afford to buy a beautiful hardback that is going to last."¹
  • The Everyman's Library, is now widely regarded as the definitive library of classic literature with 600 titles and 18 million copies sold [over 27 Million now].¹

And that Ladies and Gentleman, is the scoop!  No David Campbell, No Everyman's!


Article Bibliography:

  

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/may/13/featuresreviews.guardianreview13
  2. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-4304684/David-Campbell-tells-built-publishing-empire.html
  3. https://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/2011/05/the-srb-interview-david-campbell/

David Campbell & the Everyman's Library Imprint - A Video

Brief Bio Snapshots from a Few Articles on the Web

David Campbell Bios

David Campbell is a publisher in Everyman’s Library, which he bought and  revived in 1991 in its present form. He worked at the Chairman Scala  Publishers from 1997 to 2013. Davis was an International Publishing  Director at Hachette in Paris from 1982 to 1990.From 1985 to 1990 he was  a Managing Director, Editions du Chene in Paris. David was also  International Sales Director for Mitchell Beazley in London from 1979 to  1982, and worked at editions Gallimard in Paris from 1973 to 1979. He  is Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur since 2007. *


* https://www.britishcouncil.ru/en/british-writers/david-campbell


 

David Campbell was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.

David  Campbell worked for much of his publishing career in Paris, first at  Gallimard, then as International Publishing Director at Hachette, later  as Publisher and Managing Director of Editions du Chêne. In 1991 he  revived Everyman’s Library as a small independent house and has been its  Publisher since. In 1999 he created the Millennium Library Trust and  raised £9 million to donate, over five years, 300 specially printed  Everyman books to every state secondary school in the UK (4,300 schools)  and to 1,700 schools and libraries in 77 countries of the developing  world. In 2007 he was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. *


* https://rsliterature.org/fellow/david-campbell/

And Finally, With Gratitude

A Sincere Thank You to Mr. Campbell

Dear Mr. Campbell -


I had no idea that I would grow to be so fond of these treasures that are the Everyman's Library classics - and that one, and then two, and then five, and then eight, and then 10, 32, 75, 150, 200 + books later (and on my way to 380+)  - would turn into such as passion of mine.  


But even more importantly than their beauty and their durability and my passion for the books, are the stories and worlds that have been opened for me by reading books that I would surely have never come across if it wasn't for this hobby that has grown into something so much more than just a hobby.


I owe a debt of gratitude to you Mr. Campbell for producing something in my life that I thoroughly enjoy and has enriched my life.


Now if only you could make gin or sell wine or something, then I'd really be in your debt! ;)


Warmest regards and with utmost respect and admiration, 


- Troy Farlow

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