Grub Street Irregular Jeremy Lewis dies

Grub Street Irregular Jeremy Lewis dies

Writer and former Chatto publishing director Jeremy Lewis has died, aged 75. 

Lewis, who having worked within the literary world for 40 years self-described himself a "Grub Street Irregular", worked for several publishing houses, including William Collins, Oxford University Press and Chatto & Windus, and for literary agency AP Watt during his career. He also worked on literary magazines the Literary Review, part-time, and The Oldie, as a deputy editor.

After life as a publisher and agent, he went on to author three autobiographical volumes: his 1987-published debut Playing for Time; 1995 sequel Kindred Spirits: Adrift in Literary London (Faber & Faber) and Grub Street Irregular: Scenes from Literary Life (HarperCollins), published in 2008. The latter is a portrait of the golden age of publishing featuring characterisations of book trade figures such as André Deutsch, James Lees-Milne, Alan Ross, Richard Cobb and Barbara Skelton. 

Lewis also published a number of biographies: Cyril Connolly: A Life (Vintage) in 1997; Tobias Smollett (Faber & Faber) in 2003; Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane (Penguin) in 2005; Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family (Vintage) in 2010; and David Astor: A Life in Print (Vintage) published just last year.

"Jeremy Lewis was one of the last old style publishers, a veteran of Deutsch and Chatto in their heyday," commented Dan Franklin at Jonathan Cape. "He was a delightful, funny, gentle man, who loved gossip, a good lunch and a literary party. Of the four books he published at Cape, Cyril Connolly was a masterpiece, while his most recent biography, David Astor, achieved that most difficult feat: to write interestingly about a truly good man. He was widely loved and is going to be sadly missed."

Lewis was remarked upon for his "extreme self-deprecation” and "old-fashioned fondness for long lunches and habit of publishing brilliant but unsellable books” by the Telegraph. Of the “man of letters”, it wrote: "after a spasmodic and unfulfilling career as a publisher and agent, he flourished later in life as a reviewer, editor and biographer, and became one of the best-loved figures in the London literary world.” 

He is survived by his wife, Petra Freston, and their daughters Jemima and Hattie.