Former Gollancz m.d. Livia Gollancz dies

Former Gollancz m.d. Livia Gollancz dies

Livia Gollancz, former governing director of Victor Gollancz Ltd, has died at the age of 97. 

She died on Thursday 29th March, a member of her family told The Bookseller. 

Born in May 1920 the daughter of Victor and Ruth Gollancz, Gollancz succeeded her father as c.e.o. of Victor Gollancz Ltd after he died in February 1967. She continued in the role until her retirement in 1990, when she turned 70. 

The publishing house, which launched under Victor Gollancz in 1928, was originally a family-owned company. Without a younger family member to continue the business, it was eventually sold, initially to Houghton Mifflin in 1989, and then to Cassell three years later. Along with Orion, it was subsequently acquired by Hachette in 1996 where it now continues as a sci-fi imprint.

Gollancz's chairman Malcolm Edwards said it was "characteristic" of Gollancz that she shared part of the proceeds of the sale to Houghton Mifflin with everyone who worked at the company.

In a message to staff, Edwards remembered Gollancz as "an active editor", responsible for the publisher's crime and thriller list for many years and earlier for its children's list. He said her "distinguished" lists reflected her passions for music and mountaineering, and he remembered in the 1980s how she achieved her ambition to climb all the Munros (Scottish peaks of 3,000 feet or more).

"She was also one of publishing's memorable eccentrics, who might often turn up at the office in a summer dress and climbing boots," said Edwards. "No one who was there will ever forget her appearances at the earliest publishers' pantomimes, particularly the one in which she played Britannia."

He added: "I don't know if she was the first woman to run a major British publishing company, but she was certainly among the earliest (just as in the 1940s she had been the first woman to lead a section in a major orchestra)."

Prior to her publishing career, Gollancz played third horn in the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as principal horn in Manchester's symphony orchestra, the Halle, from 1943 to 1945 - an experience only last year she recalled for classical music website SlippedDisc.com. 

Tony Catterick, the Historian and Archivist for The British Horn society, paid tribute to Gollancz on the site as "a true history maker" as the first female principal horn in a UK orchestra, as well as someone who was "very warm hearted", "modest" and "a great raconteur".

In Gollancz's retirement, until a fall earlier this year, she continued to live independently in Highgate, London.