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Celebrating 70 years of Suhrkamp Verlag

01.07.2020

They are short lines in which Bertolt Brecht addresses Peter Suhrkamp in May 1950, but they nevertheless have a powerful effect: »Dear Suhrkamp, of course I would like to be, by all means, with the publishing house you are running.« The support signalled in those lines is an important one – and just a few weeks later, Hermann Hesse is going to provide the ultimately decisive endorsement for the foundation of Suhrkamp Verlag.

An eventful time had preceded this: In 1936, publisher Gottfried Bermann Fischer was forced to emigrate by the National Socialists and Peter Suhrkamp kept the remaining part of S. Fischer Verlag in business under »trusteeship«. After war ended, Bermann Fischer demanded the return of the publishing house to the S. Fischer family.

In a settlement the parties eventually agree to let 48 authors decide whether they want to remain with S. Fischer or be published by the to be newly founded Suhrkamp Verlag. Along with the aforementioned Hesse and Brecht, 33 other authors decide to go with Peter Suhrkamp: Enough to venture into founding a new publishing house.

On July 1, 1950, the retail company Suhrkamp Verlag is entered into the commercial registry of Frankfurt am Main, where the publishing house is going to have its headquarters from now on. The first payment to the newly founded company was a mistaken transfer from S. Fischer Verlag, as Siegfried Unseld reports in his biography on Peter Suhrkamp: »DM 250,- for a Hesse licence. It was the publishing house’s first chapter.«

On September 8, 1950, Peter Suhrkamp presents his inaugural programme to the authors: The first books published by Suhrkamp Verlag include Selected Essays by T. S. Eliot, Max Frisch’s Diary 1946-1949, Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game and Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900 – authors and books that have accompanied the publishing house throughout its now 70 years of history.

Today, the publishing group includes Insel Verlag, Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Verlag der Weltreligionen, Suhrkamp Theater Verlag and Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag. So far, around 25.000 works have been published overall. During that time, 16.492 new titles were published by Suhrkamp Verlag – in its core programme, in the imprint Jüdischer Verlag and in the series Bibliothek Suhrkamp (since 1951), edition suhrkamp (since 1963), suhrkamp taschenbuch (since 1971), suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft (since 1973), Suhrkamp BasisBibliothek (since 1998), Suhrkamp BasisBiographien (since 2005), Suhrkamp Studienbibliothek (since 2007), editon unseld (since 2008) and filmedition suhrkamp (since 2009).

On the occasion of Suhrkamp Verlag's 70th anniversary, the dpa conducted an interview with publisher Jonathan Landgrebe, which you can read in full here.

»So Now Farewell! And Take Good Care«
Peter Suhrkamp, Annemarie Seidel
»So Now Farewell! And Take Good Care«
The Correspondence
Peter Handke, Siegfried Unseld
The Correspondence
The Correspondence
Thomas Bernhard, Siegfried Unseld
The Correspondence
The Glass Bead Game
Hermann Hesse
The Glass Bead Game
Diary 1946–1949
Max Frisch
Diary 1946–1949