Richard de la Mare, Catherine de la Mare, Christina Morley, Frank Morley, Geoffrey Faber, Catherine de la Mare, Donald Morley and T. S. Eliot at Much Hadham Hall, Hertfordshire, 4 July 1939.
Courtesy of the estate of Geoffrey Faber.

Richard de la Mare


Richard de la Mare (1901–86) – elder son of the poet Walter de la Mare – joined Faber & Gwyer as production manager in 1925 and became a principal director in 1928; he would rise to become Chairman in 1960, and later President of F&F Ltd. On 2 Oct. 1924 Geoffrey Faber wrote to Alsina Gwyer: ‘He is 24 and appears to be all that a young man ought to be. Very pleasant mannered, intelligent and not afraid of hard work … The de la Mares, as I expect you know, have an extraordinarily wide circle of literary friends and acquaintances, and the association of your de la Mare with us may prove a very useful one.’ Dick de la Mare became expert in all aspects of book design and production, which he helped to revolutionise, and he commissioned designs and illustrations from artists including Edward Bawden, Rex Whistler, Paul Nash and John Nash; he also introduced writers to the firm, including a family friend, Siegfried Sassoon (F&F sold nine printings of Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man [1928] within three years), Edith Sitwell and David Jones.

On 30 May 1941 TSE told A. L. Rowse, of de la Mare: ‘He is the greatest living producer of books and his word is final and your difficulty will be that if you do not crash against his sense of what is beautiful and suitable in production, you may suffer shipwreck on the other rock of his business acumen and sense of economy.’ TSE was to tell de la Mare, on 27 Sept. 1963: ‘How happy I have been in this long association with you – since 1925. A long time!’ And Peter du Sautoy, a later chairman of F&F, said of him: ‘He had no use for tricks and quirks that impaired legibility. “For heaven’s sake don’t show off,” was advice he often gave’ (The Bookseller, 5 Apr. 1986). De la Mare gave the 6th Dent Memorial Lecture, A Publisher on Book Production, 1936. See also Philippa Toomey, ‘Publish and be happy: Half a century in the book trade’ (a profile), The Times, 5 Sept. 1975; RdlM on the F&F Book Committee: ‘both Geoffrey Faber and T. S. Eliot had completely open minds’.

Dudley Barker, ‘Richard de la Mare: Chairman of Faber and Faber Ltd’ (profile), Trade News, 14 May 1966, 28, quotes RdlM: ‘Although [TSE] was never a fully working director … Eliot took a considerable part in the affairs of the firm, and was important in its history. He came regularly to the office, and almost until the time of his death attended the weekly editorial meetings. For many years he was responsible for the choice of the poetry we published. He enjoyed being a publisher – he told me so. He had a curious pleasure in some kinds of routine work. And he had a good head for business.’