Jonathan Cape Archive

Reference: JCDate: 1920s-1990sExtent: c.1100 boxes

Jonathan Cape established his publishing company in 1921.

The firm published both mainstream and more experimental literature, and included a number of classic works.

Early authors published were T E Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, and H E Bates. The 1950s saw authors such as Ian Fleming and Han Suyin. The 1960s to 1970s saw a string of successes with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Len Deighton thrillers, John Lennon’s In His Own Write, Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape, John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

In 1969 the firm merged with Chatto & Windus, with the Bodley Head joining in 1973 and finally Virago Press in 1982. The group was taken over by Random House UK in 1987, which merged with Penguin Books in 2013.


Readers will need the written permission of Penguin Random House before consulting material in this collection.


Please note that the pre-1960 archive is sparse. There are two series of correspondence that cover this period, the A files (JC A) and the early general correspondence files (JC G/1), the production ledgers (JC PL), and some early reviews and publicity (JC RP A). The bulk of the archive is dated post-1960.

The collection also includes papers related to Cape Goliard (formerly Goliard Press), a small imprint specialising in publishing poetry.

The collection consists of the following series:

  • JC 1-367 Editorial, production and publicity files. C.3,000, dating between the 1961 and 1989.
  • JC CG Cape Goliard files, 1960s to 1970s. Includes typescripts and manuscripts, editorial correspondence and administrative files, artworks, scrapbooks, publicity files and press cuttings, and details of external publications.
  • JC PL Production ledgers, 1920s to 1970s. Includes, stock, cost and revenue ledgers.
  • JC A Early author files, 1920s to 1960s. Main authors picked from the early general correspondence files. Typical contents includes editorial, production, publicity and review correspondence.
  • JC G Early general correspondence files, 1921-1957. Contains all other early author correspondence not found in A files.
  • JC RP A Early reviews and publicity, 1940s to 1970s. Files of reviews and newspaper cuttings arranged by published title.
  • JC MB Manuscript books, 1961-1983. Record of manuscripts received.

More Information