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Elkin Mathews

(1851—1921) publisher and antiquarian bookseller


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A book collector from boyhood, Mathews opened his first antiquarian bookshop in Exeter in 1884, moving in 1887 to London to establish a new shop in Vigo Street with J. Lane as partner. Their joint venture, the Bodley Head (named after the shop's sign), rapidly emerged as the leading imprint for avant-garde writers, publishing books by Wilde, Ernest Dowson, Yeats, and Beardsley. In 1894 Lane's new quarterly, TheYellow Book, precipitated the end of their partnership. Mathews developed his own imprint, launching two successful paperbound poetry series, the ‘Shilling Garland’ and the ‘Vigo Cabinet’. He also published notable early books by modernist writers: Yeats's Wind among the Reeds (1899), Joyce's Chamber Music (1907), and Pound's Personae (1909) and Umbra (1920). After Mathews's death in 1921, the firm was continued under his name till 1945, with P. Muir as active director in the later years.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.


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