Michael Joseph (publisher)

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Michael Joseph (26 September 1897 – 15 March 1958) was a British publisher and writer.

Early life and career

Joseph was born in Upper Clapton, London. He served in the British Army during the First World War, and then embarked on a writing career, his first book being Short Story Writing for Profit (1923).[1]

After a period as a literary agent for Curtis Brown, Joseph founded his own publishing imprint as a subsidiary of Victor Gollancz Ltd. Gollancz invested £4000 in Michael Joseph Ltd, established 5 September 1935.[2] Joseph and Victor Gollancz disagreed on many points and Michael Joseph bought out Gollancz Ltd in 1938 after Gollancz attempted to censor Across the Frontiers by Sir Philip Gibbs on political grounds.[1][2] (Joseph published the first edition in 1938 and a revised edition the following May.) Among the authors Joseph published were H. E. Bates, C. S. Forester, Monica Dickens, Richard Llewellyn, Joyce Cary, Richard Gordon and Vita Sackville-West.[2]

Personal life

Joseph and Hermione Gingold married in 1918 and had two sons, Leslie and Stephen Joseph.[1] (The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, established by the latter in 1955, was Britain's first theatre in the round.) The couple divorced in 1926 and Joseph promptly married Edna Victoria Nellie Frost, with whom he had a daughter Shirley and son Richard.[1] She died in 1949 and Joseph's third marriage the next year was to Anthea Esther Hodson, with whom he had a daughter Charlotte and son Hugh.[1]


He died of septicaemia after a delayed medical operation in 1958[1] and his widow Anthea Joseph rescued the company from the following crisis.[1]
In 1985, Michael Joseph Ltd was acquired by Penguin Books.[2][3]

Books by Joseph

  • Short Story Writing for Profit (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1923)
  • Journalism for Profit (1924)[1]
  • The Commercial Side of Literature (Hutchinson, 1925)
  • How to Write a Short Story (Hutchinson, 1926)
  • How to Write Serial Fiction (Hutchinson, 1927); US edition, Holt, 1928, "by Michael Joseph and Marten Cumberland"[1]
  • The Magazine Story: with ten examples analysed by Michael Joseph (Hutchinson, 1928)
  • The Autobiography of a Journalist (Hutchinson, 1929), ed. and introduced by Joseph[2] – uncertain role
  • Cat's Company (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1930), "illustrations ... are from drawings made by a celebrated German artist, B. F. Dolbin"[3]; later illus. Clare Dawson (Chicago: Ziff-Davis, 1947)
  • A Book of Cats, being twenty drawings by Foujita; poems in prose by Michael Joseph (New York: Covici-Friede, 1930), artwork by Tsuguharu Foujita
  • This Writing Business (Faber & Faber, 1931), 32 pp.[4]
  • Puss in Books: A collection of stories about cats (New York: Dodd, Mead & company, 1932), ed. Elizabeth Drew and Joseph, illus. A.R. Wheelan[5]
  • Heads or Tails (1933), with Selwyn Johnson[1] – uncertain role
  • Discovery, a play in three acts (Gollancz, 1934)[6]
  • Kittens and Cats (Racine: Whitman, 1938)[7] – uncertain role
  • The Sword in the Scabbard (Joseph, 1942)[8], memoir of service in both World Wars[1]
  • Charles: The story of a friendship (Joseph, 1943), 91 pp., LCSH: Cats—Folklore[9]
  • Complete Writing for Profit (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1938), 1097 pp.
  • The Adventure of Publishing (London: Allan Wingate, 1949)
  • Best Cat Stories (Faber, 1952), ed. Joseph, illus. Eileen Mayo[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Adrian Room, "Joseph, Michael (1897–1958)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. OUP. 2004. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Michael Joseph Publishers". The Open University. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  3. "1983: Penguin expansion". The Pearson Timeline. Pearson PLC (pearson.com). Retrieved 2014-04-10.

External links