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Jonathan Cape

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Jonathan Cape Ltd. were Arthur Ransome's British publishers for the Swallows and Amazons series of books. They are now part of Random House.

Rupert Hart-Davis was the junior partner at Jonathan Cape and so had to handle their difficult authors, including Robert Graves and Wyndham Lewis. Neither Cape or Howard liked fraternising with authors, which they left to Hart-Davis. Arthur Ransome was one of their difficult customers, although this was because of Genia, with her “distrustfulness, venom and guile”.

Hart-Davis became a close friend of Ransome, sharing an enthusiasm for cricket and rugby (but not fishing). He left Capes after a dispute over money. After Cape’s death he commented to George Lyttelton that Cape had been “one of the tightest-fisted old bastards I’ve ever encountered”. The second partner, Wren Howard was “even more cheese-paring” than Cape.

The hardback Cape editions have dust jackets with (reduced) black and white illustrations from the book on a coloured background; a different colour for each book. The Picts and the Martyrs has on the spine an illustration not in the book, showing the group on the wharf (including the old boatbuilder) launching Scarab.

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