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Stanley Unwin

Stanley Unwin British publisher

British publisher
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro British publisher
A.K.A. Sir Stanley Unwin
Was Publisher Writer Businessperson
From United Kingdom
Type Business Journalism Literature
Gender male
Birth 19 December 1884, Lewisham, United Kingdom
Death 13 October 1968, London, UK (aged 83 years)
Star sign SagittariusSagittarius
Children: Rayner UnwinDavid Severn
The details

Sir Stanley Unwin, KCMG (19 December 1884 – 13 October 1968) was a British publisher.


Unwin started his career at the publishing firm of his uncle Thomas Fisher Unwin. In 1914 Stanley Unwin purchased a controlling interest in the firm George Allen and Sons, and established George Allen & Unwin, later to become Allen and Unwin.

The company found success publishing authors such as Bertrand Russell, Sidney Webb, R. H. Tawney and Gandhi.

In the 1930s he published two bestsellers by Lancelot Hogben: Mathematics for the Million and Science for the Citizen.

In 1936, J. R. R. Tolkien submitted The Hobbit for publication and Unwin paid his ten-year-old son Rayner Unwin a shilling to write a report on the manuscript. Rayner's favourable response prompted Unwin to publish the book. Once the book became a success, Unwin asked Tolkien for a sequel, which eventually became The Lord of the Rings, though Tolkien had wanted to publish The Silmarillion it was turned down for being "too Celtic"; it was finally published posthumously by Allen & Unwin in 1977.

In 1950 Stanley Unwin published another bestseller, Thor Heyerdahl's The Kon-Tiki Expedition.

During his career Unwin was active in book trade organs such as "the Publishers Association, the International Publishers Association and the British Council".

Personal life

Stanley Unwin was born on 19 December 1884 at 13 Handen Road, Lee, Lewisham, south-east London. He was one of the children of Edward Unwin (1840–1933), a printer who was the one of the sons of Jacob Unwin, the founder of the printing firm Unwin Brothers, and of his wife Elizabeth (née Spicer).

The publisher Thomas Fisher Unwin was his father's youngest stepbrother.

The children's writer Ursula Moray Williams was his niece.

Unwin was a lifelong pacifist, and during the First World War, as a conscientious objector, he joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD).

Unwin died on 13 October 1968 and was honoured with a Blue Plaque at his birthplace.

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