Charles Pick Archive

Scope and Content

The collection contains the business papers of CP, Managing Director of William Heinemann and the Heinemann Group. Correspondence with colleagues and competitors provide insight into the workings and characters of the publishing world across three decades, from the early 60s to the late 80s.

The collection contains files pertaining to individual authors, most notably Anita Desai, Monica Dickens, Paul Gallico, Richard Gordon and Graham Greene. The publishing files include the business files of the publishing company Michael Joseph Ltd, of William Heinemann Ltd, the Heinemann Group and their parent company Thomas Tilling Ltd.

Business papers cover sales, turnover and profits and various publishing ventures. These include the attempted takeover of Jonathan Cape Ltd by CP, Peter Hebdon and Roland Gant; Heinemann's book club venture; the 'Pickles' editions (Octopus/Heinemann hardback collections); and Pan paperback publishing by joint owners: Heinemann, Collins and Macmillan.

The papers reflect the various rescues, mergers, takeovers and successions within the Heinemann Group and the industry as a whole.

Later papers cover Charles Pick Consultancy and CP's consultancy work for the Octopus Publishing Group Plc., 1985-88.

Personal papers include correspondence, invitations and programmes to social events, and dictated memoirs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Pick (1917-2000) began his publishing career at the age of 16 when he started work with Victor Gollancz in 1933. Two years later he joined Michael Joseph (the former Managing Director of Curtis Brown) who had just turned publisher. CP's post was that of London salesman. The war years intervened and in 1940 CP was enlisted in military service, he finished his service as a Staff Officer in the Far East. He resumed his employment with Michael Joseph after the war. After the death of Michael Joseph in 1959 CP was appointed joint Managing Director of Michael Joseph together with Peter Hebdon. Roland Gant was Editorial Director. Authors on the Michael Joseph list included Richard Gordon, Paul Gallico and James Leasor.

When Illustrated Newspapers (the company which owned Michael Joseph) was taken over by Roy Thomson in 1961, CP, Hebdon and Gant all resigned in protest. The three, together with Allan Lane, then turned their attention to a possible acquisition of Jonathan Cape, but the deal fell through. In 1962 CP was offered the job of Deputy Managing Director at William Heinemann Ltd. The Company was at this stage losing profits. CP brought with him, from Michael Joseph, authors like Monica Dickens, Richard Gordon, Paul Gallico and James Leasor. CP went out of his way to accommodate J.D. Salinger and concerned himself with Paul Scott, Wilbur Smith and other Heinemann authors.

He got many of his authors into paperbacks. In 1969 Heinemann took a one-third ownership in Pan (Collins and Macmillan were the other partners). CP planned to start Heinemann paperbacks in 1973 but the project was shelved after opposition from the other Pan partners.

In 1979 CP replaced Alan Hill as Managing Director of the Heinemann Group.

Book clubs led to one of CP's few setbacks. Heinemann together with Collins and Bonnier set up the Nationwide Book Service in 1979. After three years of substantial losses it was sold off to David & Charles.

Fortunately the Heinemann/Octopus collections (the 'Pickles'; uniform editions) proved a great success.

CP retired as Heinemann Group Managing Director in 1985 at the age of 68. He went on to set up his own consultancy to handle the affairs of Wilbur Smith as a first priority.

( The Bookseller , 23.2.85)

Access Information

Other than where a specific access restriction is noted, the collection is open for consultation by appointment in the Archives Department during its advertised opening hours.

Other Finding Aids

Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

Reproductions are subject to physical condition and the terms of deposit. A charge is made for this service. Copyright restrictions may apply and the advice of the Archives department should be sought for any use of reproductions other than personal research.

Custodial History

Charles Pick's papers were gifted to the UEA Archives by his son Martin Pick. They were placed in the Archives on 19.7.11.