The Bodley Head was founded in 1887 by John Lane and Elkin Matthews. Initially trading in antiquarian books in London, Lane and Matthews began in 1894 to publish works of ‘stylish decadence’, including the notorious literary periodical The Yellow Book. The Bodley Head became a private company in 1921 and in the 1970s formed a publishing group with Jonathan Cape and Chatto & Windus. It was bought by Random House in 1987 and ceased trading as an adult imprint in 1990.
In its new incarnation The Bodley Head is devoted to excellence in non-fiction in all fields. Its two principal strands are, on the one hand, books of immaculate scholarship in both the humanities and sciences and, on the other, books which contribute to the intellectual and cultural climate of our times. Writers as diverse as Misha Glenny, Ian Mortimer, Roger Penrose, Karen Armstrong and Jonathan Powell are on the list – each very different from the other but united by the originality of their thinking, by their expertise and by their gifts as communicators. They and The Bodley Head are excited by ideas and are determined to make a difference to the way we understand our world.
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