Olympia Press

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Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebranded version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic fiction and avant-garde literary fiction, and is best known for issuing the first printed edition of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

In its heyday during the mid-fifties Olympia Press specialized in books which could not be published (without legal action) in the English-speaking world. Early on, Girodias relied on the permissive attitudes of the French to publish sexually explicit books in both French and English. The French began to ban and seize the press's book in the late fifties.[1]

Precisely 94 Olympia Press publications were promoted and packaged as "Traveller's Companion" books, usually with simple text-only covers, and each book in the series was numbered. The "Ophelia Press" line of erotica was far larger, using the same design, but pink covers instead of green.

Olympia Press was the first publisher willing to print William S. Burroughs's avant-garde, sexually explicit Naked Lunch, which soon became famous. Other notable works included J. P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man; Samuel Beckett's French trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable; Henry Miller's trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, consisting of Sexus, Nexus and Plexus; A Tale of Satisfied Desire by Georges Bataille; Story of O by Pauline Réage; Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg's Candy; Alex Austin's The Blue Guitar and Eleanore; and a critical book on Scientology, Inside Scientology/Dianetics by Robert Kaufman. The South African poet Sinclair Beiles was an editor at the publisher. Other authors included Alexander Trocchi, Iris Owens (Harriet Daimler) and John Stevenson (Marcus Van Heller).

Girodias had troubled dealings with his authors including copyright issues. Nabokov was dissatisfied with the copyediting, assignment of copyright and the press's literary reputation.[2] The press engaged in a long-running dispute over the rights to The Ginger Man ended with Donleavy's wife Mary buying out Girodias at what was intended to be a closed auction. Forced to leave France in , Girodias briefly reestablished Olympia Press in New York in the 1960s, and in London in the early 1970s.

Grove Press in the U.S. would later print The Olympia Reader, a best-selling anthology containing material from some of Olympia's most popular works, including material by Burroughs, Miller, Trocchi and others. Another well-known collection was The Best of Olympia, first published by the Olympia Press in 1963 and reprinted by New English Library in 1966.

Other incarnations of the company, some with Girodias' support, emerged in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Olympia Press has been re-established and is currently operating out of Washington, London, and Frankfurt.

Works in the Traveller's Companion Series[edit]

No. Title[3] Author
1 The Enormous Bed Henry Jones (pseudonym for John Coleman)[4]
2 Rape Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
3 School for Sin Frances Lengel (pseudonym for Alexander Trocchi)
4 The Libertine Robert Desmond
5 Play This Love With Me Willie Baron (pseudonym for Baird Bryant)
6 Tender Was My Flesh Winifred Drake
7 The Ginger Man J. P. Donleavy
8 An Adult's Story Robert Desmond
9 The Whip Angels XXX (Dianne Bataille)
10 What Frank Harris Did Not Say Alexander Trocchi
11 The Loins of Amon Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
12 The Chariot of Flesh Malcolm Nesbit
13 The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe Humphrey Richardson
14 White Thighs Alexander Trocchi
15 Rogue Women Nicholas Cutter
16 With Open Mouth Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
17 Fanny Hill John Cleland
18 How to Do It Gustav Landshot
19 Darling Harriet Daimler
20 The Small Rooms of Paris Ezra de Richarnaud
21 Until She Screams Mason Hoffenberg
22 The Itch Steven Hammer
23 Roman Orgy Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
24 Heaven, hell and the whore Robert Desmond
25 Thongs Alexander Trocchi
26 Who Pushed Paula? Akbar Del Piombo
27 Skirts Akbar Del Piombo
28 Sarabande for a bitch Mickey Dikes
29 Helen and Desire Alexander Trocchi
30 Cruel Lips Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
31 Kama Houri Ataullah Mardaan
32 The Pleasure Thieves Harriet Daimler
33 Innocence Harriet Daimler
34 Cosimo's Wife Akbar Del Piombo
35 The Wantons Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
36 Our Lady of the Flowers Jean Genet
37 The House of Borgia Marcus Van Heller (John Stevenson)
38 Flesh and Blood Anna Winter
39 Sexus Henry Miller
40 The Organization Harriet Daimler
41 A Gallery of Nudes Hume Parkinson
42 Deva Dasi Ataullah Mardaan
43 The Double Bellied Companion Akbar Del Piombo
44 The Story of O Pauline Reage
45 Pearls of the Rainbow Robert Desmond
46 Sin For Breakfast Hamilton Drake
47 The world of sex Henry Miller
48 Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery John Wilmot
49 The Bedroom Philosophers D.A.F. de Sade (Marquis de Sade)
50 120 Days of Sodom Marquis de Sade
51 The White Book Jean Cocteau
52 Juliette Part 1 Marquis de Sade
53 Juliette Part 2 Marquis de Sade
54 Juliette Part 3 Marquis de Sade
55 Juliette Part 4 Marquis de Sade
56 Juliette Part 5 Marquis de Sade
57 Juliette Part 6 Marquis de Sade
58 Juliette Part 7 Marquis de Sade
59 Dissolving Tim Harrack
60 I Hear Voices Paul Ableman
61 The Woman Thing Harriet Daimler
62 Teleny Oscar Wilde
63 The Gaudy Image William Talsman
64 Candy Maxwell Kenton (Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg)
65 Classical Hindu Erotology Ram Krishnanada
66 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
67 Justine Marquis de Sade
68 Plexus Henry Miller
69 The Watcher and The Watched Thomas Peachum
70 Two Novels: The Amorous Exploits of a Young Rakehell; The Debauched Hospodar Guillaume Apollinaire
71 Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable Samuel Beckett
73 The Fetish Crowd Akbar Del Piombo
74 Zazie dans le Metro Raymond Queneau
75 Houses of Joy Wu Wu Ming (Sinclair Beiles)
76 Naked Lunch William S. Burroughs
77 The Black Book Lawrence Durrell
78 The Thief's Journal Jean Genet
79 Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade, and, The Hero Maker Akbar Del Piombo
80 The Young and Evil Charles Henri Ford
81 Night Francis Pollini
82 The Hero Maker Akbar Del Piombo
83 Steiner's Tour Phillip O'Connor
84 Pleasures and Follies of a Good Natured Libertine Restif de la Bretonne
85 The American Express Gregory Corso
86 The Shy Photographer Jock Carroll
87 Pinktoes Chester Himes
88 The Soft Machine William S. Burroughs
89 Stradella James Sherwood
90 A Bedside Odyssey Homer & Associates (Michael Gall)
91 The Ticket That Exploded William S. Burroughs
92 Busy bodies Ed Martin
93 Murder vs. murder: The British legal system and the A.6 murder case Jean. [from old catalog] Justice
94 Sextet j. Hume Parkinson
101 Stradella James Sherwood
102 I Hear Voices Paul Ableman
104 The Gaudy Image William Talsman
105 The Story of Venus and Tannhauser Aubrey Beardsley
107 The best of 'Olympia': An anthology Maurice Girodias
108 The Fifth Volume of Frank Harris's My Life and Loves An Irreverent Treatment by Alexander Trocchi
109 Young Adam Alexander Trocchi
112 Night Francis Pollini
114 Junky William S. Burroughs
115 Gordon Louise Walbrook (Edith Templeton)
205 The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe Humphrey Richardson
206 A bedside odyssey Gerald Williams
210 Sin for Breakfast Mason Hoffenberg
214 My Mother Taught Me Tor Kung
301 The Watcher and the Watched Thomas Peachum
429 Crazy Wild breaks loose. Jett Sage
434 Bishop's gambol Roger Agile
440 Frankenstein '69 Ed Martin
450 Acid temple ball Mary Sativa
456 A Satyr's Romance Barry N. Malzberg
465 Sookey Angelo D'Arcangelo
467 Thrust C.S. Vanek
470 Jyros J. Joth
505 Run Little Leather Boy Larry Townsend
2218 The Organization Harriet Daimler
2220 Whip Angels Selena Warfield (Dianne Bataille)


  1. ^ Post, WILLIAM McPHERSON; WILLIAM McPHERSON is book critic of The Washington (1979-03-04). "Interview with Maurice Girodias". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  2. ^ "Chronology of Nabokov's Life and Main Works | The Nabokovian". thenabokovian.org. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  3. ^ "Publisher Series: Traveller's Companion Series". Library Thing. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  4. ^ Jones, Henry (28 March 2014). The Enormous Bed. Google. ISBN 9781626575172. Retrieved 16 November 2018.

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