Launch of The Bodley Head

Everard Hopkin’s New’s cover design for John Lane’s Catalogue of Publications in Belles Lettres for 1896, showing the Vigo Street, London store front of The Bodley Head, publishers and booksellers.

The Bodley Head was originally established in 1887 under the partnership of Charles Elkin Mathews (1851-1921) and John Lane (1854–1925) as a bookshop specializing in old and rare books. The bookshop opened in London under a sign depicting the head of Sir Thomas Bodley, an English diplomat and scholar who founded the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Mathews had a passion for antique books and opened a small bookshop of his own in Exeter in 1884. Lane, on the other hand, educated himself in book collecting while living in London and supporting himself for years as a clerk at the Railway Clearing House. Their shared interest in book collecting brought them together and an ambitious Lane persuaded a hesitant Mathews to enter into a partnership with him. Lane not only convinced Mathews to move his books from Exeter to London, but also located a site for what would become The Bodley Head on Vigo Street. They called their catalogue of merchandise “A List of Books in Belles Lettres,” and focused on embodying the aestheticism of the period by specializing in decorated limited edition works of literature. (Stetz and Lasner, England in the 1890s: Literary Publishing at the Bodley Head)

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

10 Oct 1887

Event Source: