Ernest Hecht OBE, founder and publisher of Souvenir Press, has died, the Bookseller reported, noting that he "remained at the helm of Souvenir Press, conducting business from his West London home, 'till the last.' " He was 88.
Hecht founded the independent press in 1951, "setting it up in his parents' back bedroom after securing a £250 loan from his father," the Bookseller noted. He "went on to publish an eclectic list, including Nobel laureates, humor classics--such as Jenny Joseph’s Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple--cult classics such as Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods and the series of Modesty Blaise thrillers by Peter O’Donnell." He received the first Lifetime Achievement award at the British Book Awards in 2001 and was honored with an OBE in 2015.
Describing Hecht as "much more than a publisher," a Souvenir Press spokesperson said: "An ever-generous host, whether at long lunches or his many theatrical and musical events, Hecht was a loyal friend to many, offering ideas and advice, but also criticism when he felt it was needed. He was wise and witty, a great anecdotalist with a mind like a steel trap who forgot nothing. No one would say he was easy--but for Ernest that was all just part of the sport. Publishing will never see his like again and his passing leaves a void in a great many lives."