John Calder started his publishing house in 1949. During the fifties, he translated Tchekov, Dostoïevski, Goethe and Zola. He then began to publish American titles on issues of civil liberty which American publishers were afraid to keep on their lists, because of McCarthy's "witch-hunt". This led to the development of close ties with those smaller American firms who resisted the McCarthyite pressure.
He published controversial books such as Lord Altrincham’s Is The Monarchy Perfect?
(which exposes the atrocities perpetuated in the French and English colonies), Henri Alleg’s The Question
(which had been censored in France), Alexander Trocchi’s Cain's Book
and unauthorised titles by Henry Miller and William Burroughs.
Calder also published some writers who changed the face of twentieth century literature: Samuel Beckett, representants of the school of the "nouveau roman" or "new novel" (Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marguerite Duras, Claude Simon, Nathalie Sarraute and Robert Pinget) and new experimental British writers such as Ann Quin, Alan Burns, Eva Tucker and R.C. Kennedy - who, influenced by their European counterparts, became part of the avant-garde of the early 1960s.
Since 1949, Calder Publications has published 19 Literature Nobel Prizes, and 3 Peace Nobel Prizes.
Photo: © Aude Vincent