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Grant Richards (1872–1948)

Franklin Thomas Grant Richards, known as Grant Richards, was a British publisher and writer born on October 21, 1872, at University Hall, Hillhead, Partick, Lanarkshire. He attended school first at Langdale House, Oxford, beginning in 1880, and later at the City of London School. His uncle, Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen (1848–1899), a writer of fiction and works on natural science, recognized Richards’s interest in publishing; in 1888, he arranged a job for his nephew as junior clerk with the wholesale booksellers Hamilton, Adams & Co. In 1890, his uncle obtained for him a position with W. T. Stead on the Review of Reviews, where, for the next six years, Richards was involved with editorial work and reviewing. Grant Richards opened his own publishing house in January 1897 at 9 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London. Under the imprint of Grant Richards, his publications that year included the Paris and Florence volumes of Grant Allen’s Historical Guides series as well as Allen’s The Evolution of the Idea of God: An Inquiry into the Origins of Religion. In 1898, he published works by two major authors: George Bernard Shaw (Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant) and A. E. Housman (A Shropshire Lad). He married Elisina Palamidessi de Castelvecchio (later Elisina Tyler) in 1898, and they had four children: Gioia Vivian Mary Elisina (1900–1969), Gerard Franklin (1901–1916), Charles Geoffrey ("Carlos") (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert (1906–1983). Richards’s move in 1902 into larger London offices at 48 Leicester Square led, in April 1905, to bankruptcy. He reorganized the firm, adding to his imprint the initial of his wife’s name (trading as E. Grant Richards), and moved later that year to smaller offices at 7 Carlton Street. In 1908, the firm reverted to Richards’s name and moved to 8 St. Martin’s Street. In 1909, he published Royall Tylers book, Spain, a Study of Her Life and Arts. Grant Richards also published his own eight novels, beginning with Caviare in 1912. His marriage to Elisina Tyler ended in divorce in 1914, and on July 2, 1915, he married Maria Magdalena de Csanády (b. 1889/90). Richards entered into bankruptcy for the second time in 1926, and the firm was renamed the Richards Press. He wrote a series of memoirs: Memories of a Misspent Youth, 1872–1896 (1932), Author Hunting by an Old Literary Sportsman: Memories of Years Spent Mainly in Publishing, 1897–1925 (1934), and Housman, 1897–1936 (1942). He sold his home in Cookham Dean in 1927 and lived at several addresses in London until moving to Moor Park, Surrey, in 1946. He died in Monte Carlo following a long illness on February 24, 1948.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. "Richards, (Franklin Thomas) Grant (1872–1948), Publisher and Writer."