Books: Cover Stories

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HEAVEN ONLY knows what Victor Gollancz would have made of this week's takeover of Cassell by nouveau riche Orion, who - flush with French money - paid pounds 9m-odd for the group whose most illustrious name is surely Gollancz. Kingsley Amis and J G Ballard may be long gone, but Gollancz still retains the lustre of a venerable name. VG, founder of the celebrated Left Book Club, did not expect Gollancz to survive much beyond his death. That was 20-odd years ago, but Gollie (as it was universally known) has enjoyed its fair share of recent successes - not least with Nick Hornby. Cassell, which has just celebrated its 150th birthday, also has a distinguished past.

Orion chief executive Anthony Cheetham has already said the Gollancz name will be retained, though other Cassell imprints probably won't survive, to say nothing of many of the 150 staff -- although chairman Philip Sturrock has carved himself a role, at least for the moment.

ANOTHER OLD name with which Sturrock was once associated changed hands this week. Academic house Routledge, once known as Routledge & Kegan Paul, part (before the break up) of Associated Book Publishers, has been bought by Taylor & Francis for pounds 90m. Large-scale redundancies seem inevitable.

LADY HEALEY, wife of the former Labour Chancellor, is hard at work on a biography of Emma Darwin, granddaughter of Josiah Wedgwood and wife of the celebrated naturalist. When that has been delivered to her publishers Headline, she will set to and write her own life,entitled Part of the Pattern. Lord H will no doubt promote it as lovingly as if it were his own.

SO DAVID Mellor, former Tory Member for Putney, has returned the substantial advance paid by Michael Joseph for his memoirs. Inevitable, really. The man whose love of Spanish practices cost him his job bottled out of his address to the firm's Malaga sales conference earlier this year. Officially, his last-minute cancellation was due to an ear infection but, in reality, Mellor must have known he would never write his memoirs.

IN THE last year of his life, Ted Hughes was awarded many prizes. Now he is in line for two posthumous ones. Birthday Letters was shortlisted this week for both the Whitbread Poetry Award and the TS Eliot Prize. Eliot was a founder of Faber & Faber, Hughes's publisher, and the prize is awarded in January (just before the Whitbread) by his widow, Valerie Eliot.