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.