Who we are:
Well, who we are and what we do.
We’re a small, fiercely independent imprint for – or so we trust – sound, solid works, fiction and nonfiction. We believe that the future is in independent voices and independent publishing. We have the greatest respect for the great, established houses, academic and mass. But sometimes an army of manœuvre can (in Mr Pyle’s terms) beat tar out of an army of mass. It can, as General Thomas J Jackson – Stonewall himself – said (and proved, in the Valley), ‘mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy’, for ‘[s]uch tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible’. We have the advantages of our size: nimbleness not least.
We can make – and have made – our works each a Gesamtkunstwerk, from typography to cover design to the date of publication: we don’t have quarterly book drops, but can time a release for a significant date, from 4 July to the anniversary of, say, Trafalgar. We have neither the advantages nor the disadvantages of the large houses. Nowadays, a physical plant, vast presses, and the attendant overhead have ceased to be necessary … or indeed advantageous (although we envy them their advertising budgets); and we have dispensed with these. We mean simply to inform and to entertain, and to publish work we’re proud of.
And we are always on the lookout for new, independent voices. Our ear is open – and so is our transom.
The oldest entries in the catalogue are books written by the partners themselves, Mr Wemyss and Mr Pyle; and by Mr Pyle’s late father. Yet this is no vanity project. We have an exciting new novelist in our sights; this year is to see the début of some excellent ghost stories by another new author; and we have long had in the pipeline a superb work of history by a distinguished Italian scholar, and the first in our series of Bapton’s Brief Lives (Markham Shaw Pyle, commissioning editor), a biography of US Grant. (It is our view that scholarship, like excellent fiction, cannot and must not be rushed, and we are intensely relaxed about publication dates. Good work takes the time it takes.)
It’s an exciting time, and as reader and – as it may be – as aspiring writer, you are invited to join in these excitements.
A brief word about the partners – of whom, as authors, more on another page – would not come amiss.
Markham Shaw Pyle holds his undergraduate degree (Politics and Philosophy, with special honours in the latter) and his law degree from Washington & Lee. He has collaborated with GMW Wemyss in critical, annotated editions of Kenneth Grahame and of Kipling; in essays and works of criticism; in a history of that year of portent, 1937; and in a celebrated centenary history of the British and American enquiries into the loss of RMS Titanic. He is also the author of a history of America and its Congress on the day – August 12, 1941 – on which the House of Representatives, four months before Pearl Harbor, kept the draft … by one vote; and of the correspondence between George Washington and his remote cousin, the patroness of early Methodism, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, concerning her plans to move whole congregations of her ‘Connexion’ to the frontier of the newly independent America, to deal fairly with the Native Americans and make the backcountry blossom.
GMW Wemyss lives and writes, wisely pseudonymously, in Wilts. Having, by invoking the protective colouration of tweeds, cricket, and country matters, somehow got through school (Floreat, you lot) and evaded immersion in Mercury whilst up at University, he survived to become the West Country’s beloved essayist; author of a history of the Narvik Debate, the fall of Chamberlain and the rise of Churchill in May 1940; co-author of works of essays and criticism, and of histories of 1937 – that year of portent – and of the UK and US enquiries into the sinking of Titanic; co-editor and co-annotator of Kipling’s Mowgli stories and of Kenneth Grahame; and author of Cross and Poppy, the first novel in his Village Tales series, the sequel to which is forthcoming. Like Mr Pyle, he is of rather a sardonic humour.
Bapton Books have a Tumblr. As seen on their respective pages, Mr Wemyss and Mr Pyle are both on Twitter and on Facebook.
It is not often that a reader is treated to a story so utterly well-conceived or so perfectly set down … inimitable voice … a real treasure … wonderful and wondrous tales.
– from a five-star Amazon US review of GMW Wemyss’ Cross and Poppy.
… examines three areas that are (generally speaking) woefully neglected … a well thought-out, illuminating piece of history covering topics that are often sadly neglected. Pyle writes with integrity, authority, and an appealing energy….
– American novelist Curtis D Edmonds, in a five-star Amazon US review of Markham Shaw Pyle’s Benevolent Designs: The Countess and the General: George Washington, Selina Countess of Huntingdon, their correspondence, & the evangelizing of America.
... this sharply and eruditely-drawn account.... This is a parliamentary procedural as well as the re-creation of a vanished pre-War world; its political and intellectual processes as well as a sociology ranging from Trollope to Joyce. This is far more than another clever ‘Titanic’ book.
– Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Paris Contributing Columnist, The Sunday Telegraph, on GMW Wemyss and Markham Shaw Pyle, When That Great Ship Went Down: The legal and political repercussions of the loss of RMS Titanic.