Paul Hamlyn (1926-2001) was an entrepreneurial publisher and philanthropist. He made his fortune in publishing, and is often considered among the leading publishers of the 20th century. His success was built on challenging traditional approaches to publishing, innovating in the development of new products that took high quality to a mass market. Famously, these included the first illustrated cookbooks, a series of classical music recordings (Music for pleasure) and high quality arts books, among many others.
Born Paul Hamburger in Berlin, he came to the UK as a migrant in 1933. Like many Jewish families, the Hamburgers left Germany to escape Nazi persecution. He served during the war as a Bevin boy, working in coal mines. He started his first book-selling business in 1949, selling volumes out of a wheelbarrow in Camden. From these beginnings, Hamlyn Books eventually grew. He later created Octopus and other successful imprints.
In 2012, we published an audio documentary about Paul Hamlyn’s life, drawing on interviews with family, friends and colleagues.
Paul Hamlyn was committed to offering new opportunities and experiences for less fortunate members of society. During his lifetime, and because of his experiences, he had a particular interest in social justice, challenging prejudice and opening up the arts and education to everyone, but particularly to young people.
In 1987 he established the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for general charitable purposes. Since then, we have continuously supported charitable activities that have enabled individuals, particularly children and young people, to experience a better quality of life.
Paul died in August 2001, but his magnificent bequest enables us to be independent and bold in honouring his beliefs and aims.