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Paul Elek (1906-1976) was a British publisher, the founder of Paul Elek Publishers, whose publication of Richard Pape's first book, Boldness Be My Friend saved him from bankruptcy.
1947 was the year of Paul Elek’s illustrated Camden Classics. These included Keith Vaughan’s illustrated Tom Sawyer, with several images recalling his youthful erotic experiences, John Minton’s ‘Treasure Island’ (1947), and Edward Burra’s take on Huckleberry Finn (1948). Elek’s protégé was John Calman.
Richard Pape's first book, Boldness Be My Friend, was an account of his Second World War adventures as a navigator in a Lancaster bomber that was shot down close to the German/Dutch border, and his captures and escapes. The book was brought to Anthony Blond's London literary agency in 1952 by Vanora McIndoe, the daughter of Sir Archie McIndoe, from Pape who was hospitalized in East Grinstead, and having plastic surgery, following a drunken motorcycle accident on the Isle of Man. After being read and approved by Blond's colleague Isabel Colegate, the book was published by Elek, who gave a £600 advance. It sold 160, 000 copies at 16 shillings each, and Elek avoided bankruptcy.
Elek was also an author, and published This Other London in 1951, Paul Elek Publishers, illustrated by David Knight.
Paul Elek Publishers published a number of large-format books on art and architecture in the 1960s and 1970s, including several series, Ancient Cities and Temples, The Making of History, Centres of Art and Civilization, and a short series, name unknown, of highly illustrated books on mediaeval architecture. One of the volumes, Lost Cities of Asia, in the series Centres of Art and Civilization, states that it is the first in a new series, each volume focusing on three cities, but subsequent volumes showed it as part of the original series. In many of the volumes the photography was by Wim Swaan and Edwin Smith, shown below by (WS) and (ES).
Just before his death Elek published ‘The Autobiography of an Englishman’ by “Y”, the pseudonym for Carl Yaeger, detailing a married gay man’s experiences. 'Y', a well-known author now in his sixties, was brought up in a liberal non-conformist home by parents at once benevolent and remote. At public school and Cambridge he formed strong emotional attachments to members of both sexes; he later conformed to social conventions by embracing marriage and parenthood. Although he was emotionally close to his wife, the marriage was a failure on the physical level. This side of his nature achieved fulfillment only in a brief affair outside marriage that first revealed the ecstasy of complete physical release to a man already near middle age. After the shattering experience of his wife's sudden death, 'Y' followed his earlier inclinations, experimenting with male attachments until he found joyous satisfaction once more in an association that broke up, however, in its turn, just short of bitterness and tragedy.
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