We were saddened to hear of the death of Livia Gollancz on Thursday 29th March 2018. Livia was born in May 1920 and before joining her father's publishing house, Victor Gollancz Ltd, she was a professional musician. She won a place at the Royal College of Music playing the viola but quickly switched to the French horn and after playing third horn at the London Symphony Orchestra, she became the principal horn for the Halle Orchestra from 1943-45. She was the first woman to lead a section in a major orchestra and when she then took over her father's publishing company after his death in 1967, she was one of the earliest women to run a publishing house.
Livia joined Victor Gollancz Ltd in 1953 and initially worked in production and advertising but quickly became familiar with all aspects of the business and was the natural successor to her father. Like Victor, Livia had a big personality, as her Times obituary
shows, and she maintained a very good working relationship with Daphne du Maurier, who published her first book with Gollancz in 1934, Gerald: A Portrait
(a biography of her father, the actor Sir Gerald du Maurier). Gollancz was an important and influential publishing house and along with du Maurier, published Kingsley Amis and George Orwell. When Victor Gollancz died, there were fears that crucial authors might leave the company but loyalty was important to Daphne and she was determined to stay with Gollancz. Her first novel under Livia's leadership of the firm was The House on the Strand
(published in 1969). Daphne wrote to Livia that the novel, in which the narrator goes back in time to medieval Cornwall, was 'unusual, moves fairly fast, and would come under the suspense category'. Livia was delighted the novel and it remains a firm favourite among du Maurier fans.
To find out more about the fascinating life and character of Livia Gollancz, read her Times obituary here
and this article in The Bookseller
online. To learn more about the publishing house, we recommend the history written by Daphne's editor Sheila Hodges, Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing House: 1928-78
(London, Gollancz, 1978).