The history of Picador

The beginning

The germ of an idea that became Picador was seeded in 1971. Plans for an imprint of outstanding international writing aimed at the thinking, seeking young got underway after Pan launched a new logo and had widened its editorial field into children's books with an imprint called Piccolo. 

Ralph Vernon-Hunt, Clarence Paget, Simon Master and Caroline Lassalle (the firm’s chief in-house reader) searched vainly for a name for their new imprint. Should it be Maple (after the street they were contemplating moving offices to) or, as Clarence Paget insisted, Primrose Books? No one could agree, so Caroline was given until 5 pm that day to come up with an alternative. She did, Picador was created, and she became its first editor.

Find out about what Picador stands for today

The beginning

The germ of an idea that became Picador was seeded in 1971. Plans for an imprint of outstanding international writing aimed at the thinking, seeking young got underway after Pan launched a new logo and had widened its editorial field into children's books with an imprint called Piccolo. 

Ralph Vernon-Hunt, Clarence Paget, Simon Master and Caroline Lassalle (the firm’s chief in-house reader) searched vainly for a name for their new imprint. Should it be Maple (after the street they were contemplating moving offices to) or, as Clarence Paget insisted, Primrose Books? No one could agree, so Caroline was given until 5 pm that day to come up with an alternative. She did, Picador was created, and she became its first editor.

Find out about what Picador stands for today

6 October 1972

Picador is launched with eight paperbacks: Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse, A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges, Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan, The Naked I edited by Frederick R. Karl and Leo Hamalian, The Bodyguard by Adrian Mitchell, Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter, Les Guérillères by Monique Wittig, and The Lorry by Peter Wahloo

1974

Sonny Mehta becomes Editorial Director for Pan and Picador

1978

Publication of the first Picador Paperback Original, Dispatches by Michael Herr

These white-spined paperbacks become the mainstay of any serious reader’s bookshelf

1981

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (now published by Vintage) wins the Booker Prize and in 1982 is the first Booker Prize winner on the Picador list 

Elias Canetti is the first living Picador author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature

1983

Picador author Graham Swift is on Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists list. His Booker-shortlisted novel Waterland is published by Picador in 1984

1984

Publication of the first Picador hardback, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite by Gregor von Rezzori

1985

The Bone People by Keri Hulme, a Picador paperback in 1986 and still in print in Picador in 2013, wins the Booker Prize

1988

Picador has its first number-one bestseller: The Beautiful Room is Empty by Edmund White

The Picador Classics list is launched with Black Boy by Richard Wright

1992

Three titles later published as Picador paperbacks are on the Booker shortlist: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (the eventual winner, now published by Bloomsbury), Serenity House by Christopher Hope (now published by Atlantic), and Black Dogs by Ian McEwan (now published by Vintage)

The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe is Picador’s first Booker-shortlisted original

1993

Toni Morrison is the second living Picador author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature

Alan Hollinghurst is named as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists

1995

The Riders by Tim Winton is the second Picador original title to make the Booker shortlist

1996

The first Booker Prize win for a Picador original, with Last Orders by Graham Swift

1997

The Picador Poetry list is created

The third Picador title on the Booker shortlist, The Underground Man by Mick Jackson

1998

The fourth Picador title on the Booker shortlist, Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe

1999

The fifth Picador title on the Booker shortlist, The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín

The first Picador title to sell more than one million copies is Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding; it has sold nearly five million copies to date

2000

The sixth Picador title on the Booker shortlist, The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

2001

V. S. Naipaul is the third living Picador author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature

2002

The seventh title on the Booker shortlist, Dirt Music by Tim Winton

2004

A second Picador title wins the Booker, The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, and the eighth Picador title on the shortlist is The Master by Colm Tóibín

Two more Picador titles sell more than one million copies: Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

2005

The third Booker Prize win for Picador, The Sea by John Banville

2006

Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn is the tenth Picador title to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize

2007

The first Picador ebooks are published

In 2008 the first Picador enhanced and e-only ebooks are published

2009

Picador poet Carol Ann Duffy is appointed Poet Laureate

Don Paterson, Picador Poetry editor, and Robin Robertson, Picador poet, are the first to win all three categories of the Forward Prize

2010

The eleventh Picador title on the Booker shortlist, Room by Emma Donoghue

2011

Richard Meier wins the inaugural Picador Poetry Prize for his collection Misadventure

2012

Picador celebrates its fortieth anniversary and creates anniversary editions of twelve of its most influential books: All the Pretty Horses, American Psycho, Bridget Jones's Diary, Dirt Music, Last Orders, Mother's Milk, Room, The Line of Beauty, The Lovely Bones, The Savage Detectives, The Sea and White Noise

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson is in the top twenty of the Sunday Times non-fiction paperback bestseller list for a whole year

2013

Richard House’s novel The Kills is published as four ebooks, with video, audio and pictures embedded within it – the first of its kind in the industry

Two Picador authors, Sunjeev Sahota and Helen Oyeyemi, are on the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list

Jim Crace's Harvest is shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Kills by Richard House and Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson are longlisted for the award

2014

Benediction by Kent Haruf shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize

Edward St Aubyn's satire of literary prizes, Lost for Words, wins the Wodehouse prize for comic fiction

Jessie Burton's debut novel The Miniaturist is a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, Waterstones Book of the Year and winner of the Specsavers National Book Awards Young Writer of the Year award