Harvill Secker is a firm with a long and illustrious history. Originally, Harvill and Secker were two separate companies, both with a particular interest in publishing international literature. The two imprints were formally joined together in 2005 but Harvill Secker's first incarnation, Martin Secker Ltd, was founded in 1910. Both as separate firms, and together as Harvill Secker, the house has enjoyed the contribution of many talented and committed authors, editors and other supporters over the years. It has been lucky enough to publish twenty Nobel Prize-winners, four Booker Prize-winners and to survive many changes of name and address, a variety of owners and mergers, a famous fake, an author who claimed his overdue manuscript had been eaten by a crocodile, the Blitz, a direct hit on a warehouse, a handful of libel actions, bankruptcies and a trial that rewrote obscenity laws.
After setting up his publishing house, Martin Secker went on to work with such notables as Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Emily Dickinson, Ford Madox Ford and D.H. Lawrence. In 1936 Martin Secker Ltd was bought by Fredric Warburg and Roger Senhouse, and became Martin Secker & Warburg. Over the years, Secker & Warburg published many important authors including George Orwell, H.G. Wells, Jomo Kenyatta, Colette, Jean-Paul Sartre, Tennessee Williams, Federico García Lorca, Junichiro Tanizaki, Malcolm Bradbury, Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Yukio Mishima, Tom Sharpe, Italo Calvino, David Lodge, J.M. Coetzee, Howard Marks, Umberto Eco, James Kelman, Saul Bellow, Roddy Doyle, Joseph O'Connor, Tim Parks, André Brink and Louis de Bernières.
The Harvill Press was founded in 1946 by Manya Harari and Marjorie Villiers (hence Har-vill), who had worked together in the Foreign Office. By publishing distinguished foreign authors in translation they aimed to rebuild cultural bridges to Europe and Russia after the Second World War. They went on to publish translations from many different languages and the works of writers such as Boris Pasternak, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Anna Akhmatova, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, José Saramago, Per Olov Enquist, Georges Perec, Claudio Magris, Peter Høeg, W.G. Sebald, Ismail Kadare, Cees Nooteboom, Andrey Kurkov, Haruki Murakami, Manuel Rivas, Bernardo Atxaga and Henning Mankell, as well as leading English-speaking writers such as Robert Hughes, Richard Ford, Peter Matthiessen, Nicholas Shakespeare and Raymond Carver.
In 1997 Secker & Warburg became part of the Random House Group, followed by The Harvill Press in 2002. The two imprints combined forces under the name Harvill Secker in 2005.
The Harvill Secker logo features an Arctic Tern and is based on a woodcut by Richard Allen, an award-winning artist and keen birder. His work includes illustrations for many bird identification guides, for stamps and for the RSPB. The Arctic Tern was selected to represent the international breadth of the Harvill Secker list as it is an extremely well-travelled bird with what is considered to be the longest migratory journey of any creature on earth.
In 2010 Harvill Secker commemorated the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Martin Secker Ltd with a programme of events promoting international literature running throughout the year. We also launched a new website devoted to writing from around the world, www.internationalwriting.co.uk, and published special gift editions of key Harvill Secker titles as well as a range of ebooks from our backlist as part of our celebrations.