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Of no fixed abode
Peter Mayer Publisher
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I think you took down some of the initial features of arriving at Heathrow and going to see Ron Blass.  But then, Mary and I went into London where we discovered - perhaps we knew it from Mr Blass, or his PA, Betty Hartel - that no arrangements had been made for us to stay anywhere, which we found a little bit peculiar, because we were somewhat more used to the way American corporations handled chief executives [when] they were [moved] from one city to another.  And we thought a company like Penguin, owned by Pearson, would have some experience with this kind of thing.

So we took that on faith, but were slightly disappointed when we discovered that we had to do everything ourselves which we didn't mind doing, but we were foreigners in England and London, and didn't know what things cost, and didn't know where one should ideally or temporarily live.

And an arrangement was made for the Goring Hotel, where we camped.  And really, we camped there because there was the bed in the room that we were given.  And, as I recall, we had a suitcase open to the left side of the bed and to the right side of the bed.  And we would, for months, step out of the bed into the suitcases.

Well, I went to work each day, and Mary scouted around with different estate agents for either a temporary house to rent, or maybe even a house to buy, or a flat to buy, or whatever.  And I didn't have any time, really, to aid her in any of this.  So she did pretty well, I think.  And we finally rented something behind the Royal Court Theatre, not so far from Sloane Square, a house on a six-month rental, after perhaps a month in the Goring Hotel.  And life began in a more or less reasonable fashion.

We discovered it wasn't exactly where we wanted to live, wasn't exactly the kind of house we wanted to have, or flat, but these things didn't matter so much to us.  We were younger then.  We were younger then.  And very happy to be in London.

Peter Mayer (1936-2018) was an American independent publisher who was president of The Overlook Press/Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc, a New York-based publishing company he founded with his father in 1971. At the time of Overlook's founding, Mayer was head of Avon Books, a large New York-based paperback publisher. There, he successfully launched the trade paperback as a viable alternative to mass market and hardcover formats. From 1978 to 1996 he was CEO of Penguin Books, where he introduced a flexible style in editorial, marketing, and production. More recently, Mayer had financially revived both Ardis, a publisher of Russian literature in English, and Duckworth, an independent publishing house in the UK.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Goring Hotel, London

Duration: 3 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015