Paul Hamlyn

Paul Hamlyn
Born Paul Bertrand Wolfgang Hamburger
12 February 1926
Berlin, Germany
Died 31 August 2001
Occupation Publisher, philanthropist
Title Baron Hamlyn
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Eileen Watson
Helen Guest
Children 2

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


He was born Paul Bertrand Wolfgang Hamburger in Berlin 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. 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.[1] The 'Everyday Cook Book in Colour' had sold in excess of one million copies by 1969.[2] Hamlyn used colour at a time when it was unusual and expensive for book publishers to do so accessing printers in Czechoslovakia 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]

He was awarded a CBE in the 1993 Birthday Honours[4] and made a British Life Peer on 23 February 1998 taking the title Baron Hamlyn, of Edgeworth in the County of Gloucestershire.[5]


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".[6]

The reference library within the British Museum Reading Room is named Paul Hamlyn Library following funding by his foundation,[7] although the British Museum has now taken the decision to permanently close the Paul Hamlyn Library as of August 2011.

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.[8]

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.[9]


Hamlyn died on 31 August 2001.

See also



  1. Paul Hamlyn, Publishing Lives, BBC Radio Four, March 13th 2014
  2. 'Everyday Cook Book in Colour' Marguerite Patten, Hamlyn Books (1969)
  3. Paul Hamlyn, Publishing Lives, BBC Radio Four, March 13th 2014
  4. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53332. p. 8. 12 June 1993.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 55055. p. 2325. 27 February 1998.
  6. "About the Awards", Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
  7. The British Museum website
  8. BBC News: £10m pledged to Royal Opera House"
  9. "Helen Hamlyn". BBC.
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