SOME TIME IN THE 1960s I was walking along Orange Street, which is behind the National Gallery, to visit Pickering & Chatto, the antiquarian booksellers. The proprietor was Dudley Massey, celebrated as one of the best bookmen of his generation. As I walked, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to revive the original imprint of William Pickering, who founded the firm in 1820. He invented cloth bindings and published Coleridge, Malthus, William Blake and the first collected edition of Christopher Marlowe.
In 1981, after Dudley’s death, I bought Pickering & Chatto from his heirs, partly with this publishing project in mind. For ten years I enjoyed antiquarian bookselling, yet it is a difficult business since every book sold has to be replaced; each transaction is a one-off. In the early 1990s I sold the antiquarian book business. However, I kept my interest in the revived publishing company that I had set up in 1983. I am now a non-executive chairman.