Publish and be damned' - Wellington's famous adage - runs like a leitmotif through John Calder's memoirs. He has been damned by a censorious press, by politicians, by other publishers, and by organs of the state for publishing books on sensitive issues. Damned also for publishing such authors as Henry Miller, William Burroughs, Alexander Trocchi and Hubert Selby Jr., as well as for bringing to public notice the abuses of the armies and security forces of colonial countries.
His publishing programme contained a large proportion of the leading writers of the 20th century, including Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Luigi Pirandello, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marguerite Duras, Heinrich Böll, and such British authors as Howard Barker, Edward Bond, Steven Berkoff, Ann Quin and others outside literary fiction, poetry and drama.
Anecdotes abound about Bertrand Russell, Alger Hiss, Graham Greene, J.B. Priestley, Jo Grimond and dozens of others whom the author encountered in his activities, both within and outside of publishing. He entered politics, arts promotion and management, organised writers' conferences for the Edinburgh festival and held his own literary festival in Kinrosshire. However, the chronicle does not end there.
Born into the most conservative of establishment families, John Calder has gone his own way - seeking out literary genius and creating a greater awareness of the world we inhabit. His memoirs are too outspoken to make many friends, but they will open eyes and upset apple carts. Never a saint, Calder is as frank about his own failings as of those of others.
Read an excerpt from Pursuit