Hamish Hamilton Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection is divided into several broad categories, which can be described as follows:

Contracts. Contracts. Rights and Copyright Files. Rights and Copyright Files. Associated Legal Material. Associated Legal Material. Correspondence with Authors. Correspondence with Authors. Correspondence with Editors - of specific note are the correspondence by Hamish Hamilton and Roger Machell. Correspondence with Editors - of specific note are the correspondence by Hamish Hamilton and Roger Machell. Editorial Files - including child's and adult's fiction and non-fiction. Editorial Files - including child's and adult's fiction and non-fiction. Files on Specific Authors. Files on Specific Authors.

Administrative / Biographical History

James (Jamie) Hamilton was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, 15 November 1900, son of James Nelson Hamilton and Alice van Valkenburg, and moved to Scotland at the age of five at his father's bidding. He was married twice, firstly to Jean Forbes-Robertson (daughter of actor-manager Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson) in 1929, though the marriage ended in 1933, and then to Countess Yvonne Pallavicino of Rome in 1940, with whom he had one son, Alastair. He was educated at Rugby School and Caius College, Cambridge, where he excelled at rowing, going on to win the Olympic Eights Silver medal at the Amsterdam games in 1928. He remained a keen and active sportsman throughout his life, taking up golf in middle age after a youth of skiing, hiking, rowing and recreational piloting. After graduating from Cambridge in 1922, he travelled extensively throughout the United States, where he began to build up a web of contacts in publishing that would stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.

In 1924 he joined Jonathan Cape before becoming the London Manager for Harper & Brothers in 1926, eventually rising to found Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., in 1931. During World War II, he served in the Army in Holland and France, evacuating in 1940 before being seconded to the American Division of the Ministry of Information in 1941. A daredevil pilot, diver and skier, Hamish Hamilton had a famously low threshold of boredom, despising committees and meetings, even though he was Honorary Secretary of the Kinsmen Trust from 1942 until 1956 and a governor of the London Old Vic from 1945 to 1975. It is thought his refusal to sit on boards such as the Publishers' Association was responsible for keeping him from receiving a Knighthood, though he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1953 and a Grande Officiale of Italy's Order of Merit in 1976. He died in London in October, 1988.

Conditions Governing Access

Permission to consult these records must be obtained from Penguin Books ltd. Permission to consult these records must be obtained from Penguin Books ltd. Please contact Special Collections staff for further details.

Acquisition Information

The Collection was acquired on deposit from Penguin Books, ltd.

Note

Compiled by Martin Hall, Assistant Archivist, University of Bristol Information Services - Special Collections.

Other Finding Aids

Typescript catalogue available in Special Collections. This catalogue includes an alphabetical list of all authors covered within the Collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to copy must be obtained prior to consultation.

Custodial History

Hamish Hamilton Ltd. was founded in 1931 by Jamie Hamilton and Harper of Harper & Brothers of New York, of whom Hamilton was the London representative. Firm was named Hamish Hamilton so as to avoid confusion with the publishing firm of John Hamilton. Using American contacts, he was able to publish a wide selection of eminent American authors' works previously unavailable in England. Hamilton was seconded to the American Division of the Ministry of Information during World War II, where he maintained his company and obtained difficult to find paper for printing books. The Company flourished until 1965, when the Thomson Organisation purchased it. Hamilton remained as Managing Director until 1972, as Chairman until 1981, and as President until his death in 1988. The Company was acquired from the Thomson Organisation by Penguin Books in 1985, and was entirely absorbed into Penguin in 1989, where it remains as an imprint.

Additional Information

As an imprint of Penguin Books, the Hamish Hamilton Collection is considered related to the main Penguin Archive (DM 1107).