Robert Hale (publishers)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Hale Limited was a London publisher of fiction and non-fiction books, founded in 1936, and also known as Robert Hale. It was based at Clerkenwell House, Clerkenwell Green.[1][2] It ceased trading on 1 December 2015 and its imprints were sold to The Crowood Press.[3]

Robert Hale[edit]

Robert Hale was born in Norwich in 1887, the son of a pub landlord, and worked in publishing from leaving school.[4] He was at John Long Ltd., a London firm taken over by Hutchinson & Co. in 1926, when he had become manager there. After the takeover he was managing director of the subsidiary.[5] He moved to Jarrolds Publishing, working with the accountant S. Fowler Wright, another imprint of Hutchinson & Co.[6] In the later 1920s he was a friend of Margery Allingham, a Jarrolds author, and her husband Philip Carter.[7][8]

Hale left Hutchinson & Co. in 1935, founding a company of his own. It was noted for its prolific list, and tight management.[9][6] His choice of telegraphic address, "Barabbas", reflected publishing industry cynicism.[10] The partners stated in 1939 were: H. Robert Hale, James Eric Heriot, Theodore MacDonald, and Desmond I. Vesey.[11][12] Robert Hale died on 20 August 1956, aged 68.[4]

His son, John Hale, then took over the company and expanded the list, adding genres and acquiring imprints. John Hale closed the company in 2015 and transferred the list to The Crowood Press.[13][14]

Early books[edit]

Robert Hale and Company early published authors including Wyndham Lewis.[15] The Vulgar Streak (1941) contained an explanation by Lewis of fascism, as he explained in a letter to Hale;[16][17] it was a commission from 1937, working title Men at Bay.[18] In the meantime The Mysterious Mr Bull (Robert Hale, 1938), a satire against the political left, had appeared.[19]

Berthold Brecht's Threepenny Novel appeared in English translation (by Desmond Vesey) in 1937, published by Robert Hale as A Penny for the Poor. Vesey denied to Brecht, on behalf of the publisher, that its political content had been toned down.[20][21] The Spanish Arena (1938) by William Foss and Cecil Gerahty had a preface by Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, 17th Duke of Alba, then representative in London of Francisco Franco. Its claims of a "Jewish conspiracy" among journalists opposed to Franco led to legal action by Reuters. Hale withdrew the book, and an edited edition was published by the Right Book Club.[22][23]

Farewell Leicester Square by Betty Miller was published in 1941.[24] The company went on to publish her three final novels.[25] The firm also published many of the later novels by Eunice Buckley (pseudonym of Rose Laure Allatini).

Robert Hale published in hardback in the UK the first four Harold Robbins titles, 79 Park Avenue, Never Love a Stranger, A Stone for Danny Fisher and Never Leave Me. In 1986 it published Robert Goddard's first novel, Past Caring. Other authors published in the UK include James Hadley Chase, John D. MacDonald and Edward Storey.


Robert Hale and Company published all 90 of the novels of Jean Plaidy, the pseudonym of Eleanor Hibbert.[26] The Tivington Nott, a semi-autobiographical novel by Alex Miller, was published by Robert Hale, after the appearance of its sequel Watching the Climbers on the Mountain.[27] Robert Hale also published the first book by the social scientist Dr Leo Ruickbie in 2004, a non-fiction socio-historical work called Witchcraft Out of the Shadows.

The 1965 translation The White Rose of the 1929 German work by B. Traven was criticised.[28]

Topographical works[edit]

Volumes from Hale's "Portrait of" series

Hale were known for their series on British topography such as the County Books series, The Regions of Britain series, and the Portrait of series.[29] They also published Cecil Keeling's Pictures of Persia, which contained memoirs from his wartime service there alongside 30 colour plates.[30]

Genre fiction[edit]

The company is now known in particular as a specialist genre fiction publisher.[31] In the romance novel genre, many Robert Hale authors then moved on to Mills & Boon.[32] Over the period 1968 to 1982, the company produced an extended series of hardback science fiction titles, for the public library market. Most of these works were published in the 1970s; they included editions of prominent American writers, some less-known authors, and a number of pseudonymous works.[33][34] In the field of juvenile travel and adventure literature the company published the World Adventure Series (1958–59).[35]

Western stories[edit]

Robert Hale has published many western stories in the Black Horse Western series in hardback editions, sold mainly to libraries in the UK. Some of these later appeared in large print editions published by Linford in their Linford Western Library series. Lauran Paine has had some of his writings published by Robert Hale. The Crowood Press ceased publication of Black Horse Western books in November 2020 after experimenting with soft cover and ebook editions and determining the imprint was no longer viable.[36][37]


In the early days the company address was 102 Great Russell Street.[11] It later moved to 63 Old Brompton Road. The company moved to 45–7 Clerkenwell Green in 1974–5.[38]


JA Allen and NAG Press are its imprints.[1][39] J.A. Allen, founded in 1926 and known for equestrian and hunting titles, was acquired by Hale in 1999.[40] NAG Press (horological and gemmological titles) was acquired earlier.[41]

Jill Norman brought her list to Robert Hale in the 1980s, including works by Elizabeth David; but was dismissed from the company in 1984 by John Hale, her name remaining as an imprint. Norman moved on to Dorling Kindersley.[42][43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Directory of Publishing 2010: United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland. A&C Black. 13 October 2009. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-4411-1111-1.
  2. ^ Bloomsbury Publishing (31 July 2014). Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2015. A&C Black. p. 434. ISBN 978-1-4729-1239-8.
  3. ^ Onwuemezi, Natasha (2 December 2015). "Robert Hale closes with 10 redundancies,The Bookseller". The Bookseller. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Obituary in The Times (London, England), Friday, 24 August 1956; page 11; Issue 53618.
  5. ^ "The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 7 December 1926, Page 14 – Biggest Fiction Publishers". Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b Sir Robert Lusty (1975). Bound to Be Read. J. Cape. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-224-01171-6.
  7. ^ Julia Jones (2009). The Adventures of Margery Allingham. Golden Duck UK Ltd. p. 380. ISBN 978-1-899262-01-4.
  8. ^ Sir Robert Lusty (1975). Bound to Be Read. J. Cape. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-224-01171-6.
  9. ^ Sydney Fowler Wright (1 March 2010). Deluge. Wesleyan University Press. p. lvii. ISBN 978-0-8195-7067-3.
  10. ^ Christine Campbell Thomson (1951). I Am a Literary Agent: Memories Personal and Professional. S. Low, Marston. p. 169.
  11. ^ a b Denys Kilham Roberts (1939). The Authors', Playwrights', Composers' & Artists' Handbook. John Lane. p. 20.
  12. ^ Hermann Haarmann; Christoph Hesse (29 October 2014). Briefe an Bertolt Brecht im Exil (1933–1949) (in German). De Gruyter. p. 671. ISBN 978-3-11-037796-5.
  13. ^ Brown, Lauren (24 March 2023). "John Hale, publisher of Robert Hale for over 50 years, dies aged 92". The Bookseller. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  14. ^ "About us". The Crowood Press. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Culture : Robert Hale Limited : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  16. ^ Criticism of Society in the English Novel Between the Wars. Librairie Droz. 22 May 2013. p. 222. ISBN 978-2-251-66190-2.
  17. ^ John Whittier-Ferguson (27 October 2014). Mortality and Form in Late Modernist Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-107-06001-2.
  18. ^ Iain Patterson. "Tate Papers, Wild Geese Over the Mountains: Melodrama and the Sublime in the English Imaginary 1933–9". Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  19. ^ Laura Marcus; Peter Nicholls (2004). The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 222 note 17. ISBN 978-0-521-82077-6.
  20. ^ John Willett (6 April 2015). Brecht in Context. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-4742-4308-7.
  21. ^ Hermann Haarmann; Christoph Hesse (29 October 2014). Briefe an Bertolt Brecht im Exil (1933–1949) (in German). De Gruyter. pp. 645–6. ISBN 978-3-11-023794-8.
  22. ^ Herbert R. Southworth (11 March 2002). Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco. Routledge. p. 199 note 64. ISBN 978-1-134-58706-3.
  23. ^ Judith Keene (10 April 2007). Fighting For Franco: International Volunteers in Nationalist Spain During the Spanish Civil War. A&C Black. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-85285-593-2.
  24. ^ Kate Bassett (29 November 2012). In Two Minds: a Biography of Jonathan Miller. Oberon Books. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-84943-738-7.
  25. ^ Maroula Joannou (23 October 2012). The History of British Women's Writing, 1920-1945: Volume Eight. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-137-29216-2.
  26. ^ "Obituary: Jean Plaidy – People – News – The Independent". The Independent. 20 January 1993. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  27. ^ Robert Dixon (26 August 2014). Alex Miller: the ruin of time. Sydney University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-74332-407-3.
  28. ^ Richard Eugene Mezo (1 January 1993). A Study of B. Traven's Fiction: The Journey to Solipaz. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-7734-9838-9.
  29. ^ "Rural Mappings" by Catherine Brace in Paul J. Cloke, ed. (2003). Country Visions. Harlow: Pearson Education. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-13-089601-8.
  30. ^ Mullen, Chris. "Pictures of Persia, Hale, London 1946". Chris Mullen. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  31. ^ Harry Bingham (27 September 2010). The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook Guide to Getting Published: The Essential Guide for Authors. A&C Black. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4081-2895-4.
  32. ^ Jay Dixon (January 1999). The Romance Fiction of Mills & Boon, 1909-1990s. Taylor & Francis. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-85728-266-5.
  33. ^ Michael Burgess; Lisa R. Bartle (2002). Reference Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Libraries Unlimited. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-56308-548-2.
  34. ^ "Culture : Robert Hale Limited : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  35. ^ World Adventure Series, Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  36. ^ "Black Horse Extra". Archived from the original on 31 October 2023.
  37. ^ "Goodbye Black Horse Westerns". Western Fiction Review. 30 November 2020. Archived from the original on 28 August 2022.
  38. ^ 'Clerkenwell Green', in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, ed. Philip Temple (London, 2008), pp. 86–114 [accessed 8 July 2015].
  39. ^ Directory of Publishing 2014: United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland. A&C Black. 24 October 2013. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-4725-3744-7.
  40. ^ "J.A. Allen". Archived from the original on 7 December 2004. Retrieved 25 December 2023. Established in 1926 and recognized internationally as one of the foremost publishers of equestrian books, J.A. Allen was acquired by Robert Hale in 1999 and is being vigorously expanded as an independent imprint of Robert Hale Ltd. ... J.A. Allen publishes books for the equestrian at every level.
  41. ^ "N.A.G Press". Archived from the original on 7 December 2004. Retrieved 25 December 2023. Over 10 years ago, Robert Hale acquired the prestigious horological and gemmological list of N.A.G. Press.
  42. ^ Artemis Cooper (16 June 2011). Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David. Faber & Faber. pp. 97–8. ISBN 978-0-571-27977-7.
  43. ^ Christopher Davis (2009). Eyewitness: The rise and fall of Dorling Kindersley: The Inside Story of a Publishing Phenomenon. Harriman House Limited. pp. 102–3. ISBN 978-1-906659-19-6.

External links[edit]