One of the advantages of being an independent publisher for over 60 years is that – almost without exception – you have seen it all before. The current merger of brontosauruses Penguin and Random House is the latest of many similar couplings that have been seen during Souvenir’s lifetime, though on a much bigger scale this time around.
But the disadvantage of our longevity is that the obituary columns mark the end of many personal author relationships which have spanned several decades. In recent weeks we have been saddened to hear of the deaths of two Souvenir authors: John Clive and Sven Hassel.
John Clive came to us in the 1970s with a manuscript for KG200: The Force with No Face, which with the collaboration of JD Gilman became an international bestseller. KG200 was his debut novel, and he enjoyed success with his later works, published elsewhere. He remained on good terms with us his first publishers, writing to Souvenir’s Ernest Hecht intermittently over the years. John Clive was perhaps best known as an actor, appearing in the famous ad-libbed scene in The Italian Job, alongside Michael Caine, and as the voice of John Lennon in Yellow Submarine, the Beatles animated feature.
Sven Hassel was a controversial author. He fought in the German army in World War 2, ending the war in a POW camp. He turned to writing in the 1950s, and his first book was a huge success for his publishers, Allen & Unwin. He came to Souvenir with his second book, WHEELS OF TERROR, on which the 1987 film ‘The Misfit Brigade’ was based. In total he wrote 14 books, and was translated into 18 languages.