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This report is taken from PN Review 223, Volume 41 Number 5, May - June 2015.

Robert Gavron 1930–2015 Michael Schmidt
Robert Gavron (Baron Gavron of Highgate) was the proprietor of PN Review from 1983, when he acquired it with Carcanet Press Ltd, until his death in February 2015.

I first met Bob Gavron in 1982. I am not sure what he expected. I was looking for someone to back Carcanet, a twelve-year-old over-ambitious poetry publishing house with a rapidly growing fiction list, a burgeoning deficit, and a well-­established unworldliness. We had lunch at the Savile Club, where we talked mainly about life, common friends, family, books. Next we lunched at the Connaught where Bob squirted the yolk of a quail’s egg up his tie. Bob sent me a note to say he thought we could work together – he was just tidying up another project. He was, it transpired, acquiring the Folio Society which, since 1983, has been our sister company, though we are decidedly, if not the ugly sister, the shy and retiring one, toiling away in the north, though secure in his affections.

It was characteristic that when he took over Carcanet he bought out all twelve shareholders at par, myself included. It made no sense to own part of so small an operation, and Carcanet’s accumulated deficit meant that buying us at par was very generous. Bob appointed a chairman but kept a watching brief. For the first few years he believed we might become commercially viable. He had never owned a loss-making company before, except to repair it and turn it around. But a diverse and expanding poetry list seldom makes money. Our fiction list, ...

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