On this day… 27th November, 1898 – Fredric Warburg born
Fredric John Warburg (27 November 1898 – 25 May 1981) was a British publisher best known for his association with the author George Orwell. During a career spanning a large part of the 20th century and ending in 1971 Warburg published Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) as well as Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), as well as works by other leading figures such as Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. Other notable publications included The Third Eye by “Lobsang Rampa,” Pierre Boulle’s The Bridge over the River Kwai, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Secker & Warburg. The firm became renowned for its independent left-wing position, being both anti-fascist and anti-Communist, which put it at loggerheads with many intellectuals of the time. Among the books the firm published were C. L. R. James’s World Revolution, Reg Groves’s We Shall Rise Again, Boris Souvarine’s Stalin and André Gide’s Back from the USSR. When George Orwell parted company with Victor Gollancz over publication of The Road to Wigan Pier it was to Secker & Warburg that he took his next book, Homage to Catalonia. The firm published all of Orwell’s books from then on, and he and Warburg became intimate friends.
In 1940 Warburg introduced Orwell to another of his firm’s authors, T. R. Fyvel and between the three of them they planned the creation of Searchlight Books.
Did You Know?
In 1954 Secker & Warburg was prosecuted for obscenity after publishing The Philanderer, a novel by Stanley Kauffmann
Warburg was offered the chance to plead guilty and escape with a minimal fine, but opted for trial by jury at the Old Bailey. The book was found not to be obscene and the summary by the presiding judge at the trial, Sir Wintringham Stable, was added as an appendix to later editions of The Philanderer.