Publisher Tom Maschler dies, aged 87

Publisher Tom Maschler dies, aged 87

British publisher and writer Tom Maschler–who published authors including Joseph Heller and Gabriel García Márquez, and who masterminded the Booker Prize–has died aged 87. 

His family announced with "deep sadness" that he died on Thursday night (15th October), having been in hospital in France for the past couple of weeks where he was living.

Maschler, the son of a Jewish publisher, was born in Berlin in 1932 and came to England with his parents in 1939. He became literary director of Jonathan Cape in 1960, a month after Cape himself had died, and he remained chairman for the company until it was bought by Random House in 1988. There he launched the careers of many literary heavyweights, publishing the likes of Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, Kingsley and Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, John Fowles and Gabriel García Márquez. He was also one of the key figures credited in conceiving the idea of the Booker Prize, which launched in 1968.

Michal Shavit, publishing director for Jonathan Cape, said: "Tom Maschler was the King of British Publishing. A genius, a maverick, a legend, he published some of the greatest writers of the last century. His influence and his brilliance will be felt in British culture for decades if not centuries to come. It’s such a sad loss that he has gone, but I am immensely grateful to him for everything he did to make Cape the great imprint it is, and to all the joy he has brought to so many readers around the world through the books and authors he published."

Dan Franklin, former publishing director at Jonathan Cape, who retired after 26 years with the imprint last year, said: "Tom was without doubt the most brilliant British literary publisher of his era. He could not only spot great writing, but he knew how to package it and to market it. He was a brilliant salesman. And by inventing the Booker Prize, he created a market for literary fiction that has persisted to this day. Márquez, Pynchon, McEwan, Fowles, Dahl, Amis, Roth, Heller, Chatwin – who else has ever had a list like it?"

Writer Julian Barnes said: "Tom was a whirl of a publisher, fun, noisy, smart, always zealous for books and writers; he loved running the coolest publishing house in London, and it enjoyed it too."

His son, Ben Maschler, said: "As well as being a legend in the publishing world, Tom was a much loved father and husband. Though he didn't always find it easy to express his emotions, he had a soft, spiritual side that most people rarely saw. We will miss him enormously."