Glenn Thompson, founder and publisher of Writers and Readers in the U.S. and one of the first black independent publishers in the U.K., died in London September 7, after a long battle with cancer. He was 61.
Born in Brooklyn, Thompson settled in England where he began his publishing career at Penguin Education. In 1974, with his companion and, later, wife, Sian Williams, and others, he founded the Writers and Readers Collective in London. He not only published such writers as John Berger, Susan Sontag and Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley, but also launched the For Beginners series, a line of nonfiction books in comics form. In 1987, Thompson moved W&R's operations to New York City, adding two imprints: Harlem River Press, for black fiction and poetry; and Black Butterfly Children's books. Over the years, Thompson was plagued by a variety of litigation. And while he is remembered for his efforts in support of African-American writers, he was an inspirational figure in independent publishing in general and nurtured the publishing careers of individuals of many backgrounds.