- Victoria, Australia: Black, Inc. 2015.
- cloth, dust jacket
- 336 pages
Price: $49.99 other currencies
Order Nr. 129125
An intimate partnership of three brothers - Allen, Richard and John Lane - lay at the heart of Penguin Books, the twentieth century's greatest publishing house. In a spirit of daring and creative opposition, the brothers issued quality books on a massive scale and at minuscule prices - and achieved a revolution in publishing.
The Lane boys did their best thinking together in bathroom board meetings, where at least one director would always be mother naked. They innovated in countless ways - in the early years, a church crypt served as their office and warehouse. Penguin was an unconventional upstart, bringing literary giants such as Agatha Christie, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf and Graham Greene to vast new audiences, and it seemed unstoppable.
Yet the 1942 death of John Lane brought the troika to a halt. Allen, the enthusiastic frontman who relied on his younger brothers to drive Penguins success, became more erratic and suspicious over time. Ultimately, he would force Richard out of the company he had cofounded and built.
A portrait of a remarkable family and a publishing powerhouse, Penguin and the Lane Brothers also explores the little known story of Richard Lane - the heart and backbone of Penguin, and its strongest influence. Richards experiences as a youth in Australia shaped his character and outlook; his dedication to the business was matched only by his devotion to his brothers.
Relying on unprecedented access to Lane family sources, including Richards diaries, Penguin and the Lane Brothers sheds new light on the relationship of Allen, Richard and John, so crucial as a driver of Penguins spirit and success. By turns hilarious and tragic, moving and insightful, this is a groundbreaking counter-history of an unlikely publishing triumph.
Shortlisted, 2015 Ashurst Business Literature Prize
Essential reading for all those fascinated by books about books and about the foundation stories of great businesses. -Books+Publishing
Kells story is informative and entertaining, and will appeal to anyone with the slightest interest in the world of books. In more than 30 years at Penguin Australia, I never got this close to the truth about Penguin. -Age
An engaging, sharply written, and important revisionist history of a great literary institution. -Australian Book Review
If you like books about books, Kells offers a fascinating insight into literature and fraternal power plays. -Sunday Age
A fascinating, well-researched insight into publishing and booksellers -Herald Sun
Stuart Kells is an author and antiquarian books authority. His previous book, the critically acclaimed biography of Kay Craddock, Rare, was published in 2011. He has a PhD from Monash University, and lives in Melbourne with his wife, Fiona, and daughter, Thea.