Paul Hamlyn

Paul Hamlyn, Baron Hamlyn, CBE (12 February 1926 – 31 August 2001) was a German-born British publisher and philanthropist, who established the Paul Hamlyn Foundation in 1987.

Paul Hamlyn
Paul Bertrand Wolfgang Hamburger

12 February 1926
Berlin, Germany
Died31 August 2001 (age 75)
TitleBaron Hamlyn
Spouse(s)Eileen Watson (dissolved 1969)
Helen Guest (1970–his death)[1]


He was born Paul Bertrand Wolfgang Hamburger in Berlin, Germany, in 1926 and moved to London with his Jewish émigré family in 1933. His father, Richard Hamburger, died when Paul was 14. Shortly afterwards he changed his surname to Hamlyn, which he picked out of the telephone directory. His brother Michael Hamburger (1924–2007) was a poet and translator.


He began his publishing career in 1949, selling books from a wheelbarrow in Camden, north-west London.[2] In 1965 he set up Music for Pleasure records as a joint venture with EMI. He transformed Paul Hamlyn Group and Octopus Publishing Group, now owned by Hachette Livre, into major UK publishing houses. His success was developed on the idea of publishing eye-catching, glossy books in colour that appealed to a non-literary retail market. In 1961, for example, he published Marguerite Patten's seminal domestic cookery book Everyday Cook Book in Colour, a great success that established Hamlyn in the cookery retail market.[3] The Everyday Cook Book in Colour had sold in excess of one million copies by 1969.[4] Hamlyn used colour at a time when it was unusual and expensive for book publishers to do so, accessing printers and publishers in Czechoslovakia, such as Artia,[5] for the purpose. It was one of several innovations that included selling his books in retail outlets such as supermarkets and hardware shops, in addition to the usual literary outlets.[3]


In 1993 Hamlyn became the University of West London’s first Chancellor, and was also awarded a Royal Society of Arts medal.[6] He was appointed a CBE in the 1993 Birthday Honours[7] and made a British Life Peer on 23 February 1998, taking the title Baron Hamlyn, of Edgeworth in the County of Gloucestershire.[8]

Philanthropy and legacy

He established the Paul Hamlyn Foundation in 1987 as a focus for his charitable interests, and it is now one of the UK's largest independent grant-giving organisations. The foundation administers Awards for Artists, the objectives of which include to "encourage artists to continue to practice despite outside pressures, financial or otherwise".[9]

The reference library within the British Museum Reading Room was named the Paul Hamlyn Library in 2000, following funding by his foundation, although the British Museum took the decision to permanently close the Paul Hamlyn Library as of August 2011.[10] The Paul Hamlyn Library that opened at the University of West London in September 2015 is unconnected with the former British Museum Reading Room reference library of the same name.[6][11]

In May 2007 the Royal Opera House announced that the Floral Hall atrium will be renamed Paul Hamlyn Hall in his honour, following a £10m endowment from his foundation to the Paul Hamlyn Education Fund that will be used by the Royal Opera House to support its education and community activities.[12]

Personal life

Hamlyn married first Eileen Watson, with whom he had two children, Michael and Jane, and secondly Helen Guest (in 1970), who survives him. Helen Hamlyn is a designer and philanthropist, who heads the Helen Hamlyn Trust.[13]


Hamlyn died aged 75 on 31 August 2001.


Coat of arms of Paul Hamlyn
A Bear sejant Azure grasping in the dexter forepaw a Rose slipped and leaved Or
Lozengy fesswise Gules and Azure the gules fimbriated on the upper side Or and the upper sinister side Argent in the azure a Roundel Or
On either side a Blue and Yellow Macaw proper
There Must Be Another Way
Other elements
Badge: On a Sun in Splendour Or an Octopus Azure [14]

See also



  1. Nicholas Faith, "Obituary: Lord Hamlyn", The Independent, 4 September 2001.
  2. "Paul Hamlyn", Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
  3. "Paul Hamlyn", Publishing Lives, BBC Radio Four, 13 March 2014.
  4. Marguerite Patten, Everyday Cook Book in Colour, Hamlyn Books (1969).
  5. Philip Jarvis and Sue Thomson, "Paul Hamlyn: The Must Be A Better Way...", in: Richard Abel and Gordon Graham, eds, Immigrant Publishers: The Impact of Expatriate Publishers in Britain and America in the 20th Century, Routledge, 2017 (ebook edition).
  6. "About the Library", University of West London.
  7. "No. 53332". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1993. p. 8.
  8. "No. 55055". The London Gazette. 27 February 1998. p. 2325.
  9. "About the Awards", Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Archived 20 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "The Paul Hamlyn Library", The British Museum.
  11. "Ealing site - Paul Hamlyn Library", University of West London.
  12. BBC News: £10m pledged to Royal Opera House"
  13. "Lady Helen Hamlyn". Woman's Hour. BBC Radio 4.
  14. Cracroft's Peerage.

Further reading

  • Philip Jarvis and Sue Thomson, "Paul Hamlyn: The Must Be A Better Way...", in: Richard Abel and Gordon Graham, eds, Immigrant Publishers: The Impact of Expatriate Publishers in Britain and America in the 20th Century, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2009; Routledge, 2017.
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