Tom Maschler obituary
Booker prize founder and publisher of some of the greats of 20th-century fiction
Tom Maschler, publisher and managing director of Jonathan Cape and the architect of the Booker prize for fiction, has died aged 87. A glamorous, perma-tanned figure with aquiline features and unruly hair, who dressed in brightly coloured shirts and sweaters at a time when publishing was stylistically and metaphorically tweedy, he presided for much of his life from a grand, chandeliered room at the most celebrated address in Bloomsbury, 30 Bedford Square. He joined the fusty but esteemed publishing house in 1960 as editorial director, his first buy Catch-22, for which he paid £250.
“Authors felt they’d been touched,” suggested Philippa Harrison, who started her career in publishing as a Cape reader. Her report on First Love, Last Rites (1975) ensured that Maschler read the manuscript for the short story collection that marked Ian McEwan’s debut. Harrison believed that Maschler was in his day “the very best literary publisher in London”. His authors included Philip Roth, Kurt Vonnegut, Doris Lessing, Martin Amis and Bruce Chatwin, plus Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, who put Latin American fiction on the English-speaking map.