6 Penny Mountain and Suzanne Kendall discuss the networks that helped men to get ahead in the book trade



I had a friend in a major publishing house who really knew nothing about the business she was in, in the whole. She knew about editing, she was a great editor, but she didn’t know about the politics of publishing, who was buying whom.  There were a lot of people working in publishing whose perspective of the business was quite narrow, and the perspective of the people who actually rose to the top i.e. the men, was much broader and much less narrow in the sense that, I suspect they probably weren’t necessarily as good at their jobs as many women were, but they talked the talk.


And they had the connections.


And they had the connections. I mean I knew so many men in publishing who were very good at their jobs, but I knew a lot of men who were incompetent.

How had connections helped them?

A lot of publishing houses [Penny] were actually family firms. So if you’re talking about Longmans, you know, Hodder, the directorships passed to the sons and the nephews.  I mean there must have been daughters around.  And men appointed in their own image, and they appointed people like them.

From my personal [Suzanne] point of view at Cape, Graham C Greene was obviously related to the Graham Greene, and Tom Maschler was the son of a German author so they already had entrée.  And at Ward Lock we didn’t have any Wards but we had certainly two Locks still there when I was there.

[Penny] And most of them belonged to the Garrick, which is where they would lunch and dine and drink, and that’s a men-only club.  There were other talking shops like the Society of Bookmen, which did admit women, but that had historically been a talking shop for managing directors, and you would be invited as somebody’s guest. I would be invited as a journalist through self-interest, but men would invite maybe their senior commissioning editor, who might be a woman, as a guest, not to join, but as a guest.  So the networks were many, for men, and absent for women.

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