George G Harrap

In Some Memories 1901-1935, George G. Harrap recalled striking out on his own in October 1901, after nineteen years with Isbister & Co:

“The door I unlocked led to a suite of three small rooms on the second floor of Number 15 York Street, Covent Garden, and I confess that I felt a certain trepidation as to the outcome of this plunge into business on my own account…True the rent was as small as the rooms, but as I entered into possession I felt keenly that I had given a hostage to Fortune.

The front room was to be the sanctuary in which the new publisher was to receive distinguished Authors who would forthwith begin to jostle each other on the narrow stairs and in which he would make the august decisions that would bring joy or the reverse to humble aspirants for his patronage. How the kindly gods must have laughed!

The inner room was to contain some of my stock in trade, the invoice books, and the ledgers; there was a desk for my one and only clerk, and a small counter over which I hoped many booksellers’ collectors were, as time went on, to be supplied with my future publications.

The other room was presided over by my third employee, and here the main stock was to be housed and the outgoing parcels packed…

…We are frequently termed “American”…Were I an American I should, I am sure, be proud of my nationality, but the truth is I was born within sound of Bow bells…

…the firm of George Bell & Sons had been established there since 1864. Their premises were almost opposite Number 15 and from my window I could usually see Edward Bell busily occupied at his desk. I pause upon the memory…Edward and Ernest Bell embodied much that seemed precious in the traditions of publishing, and I could not but appreciate the friendly notice of neighbours who had richly attained to that to which, in those early years, I hardly dared aspire.

…To tell the truth, we left York Street with little thought but of the inconveniences that had attended our endeavour to get a bushel of grain into a quart pot. No glamour at that date attached to the tiny rooms, the rat infested basement, the narrow entrance littered with the debris of a flower and vegetable market.

In August 1910 we crossed the threshold for the last time…”.

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