Girodias, Maurice

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Girodias, Maurice Gender: M
Maurice John Kahane
born on 12 April 1919 at 13:00 (= 1:00 PM )
Place Paris Arrondissement 16, France, 48n5146, 2e1634
Timezone WEST h1e (is daylight saving time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 21°32' s_mo.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 20°01 Asc.s_leocol.18.gif 10°42'

Maurice Girodias (photographed by Gilles Larrain)
photo: Gilles Larrain, license cc-by-sa-3.0


French publisher who founded the Olympia Press in 1953, specialising in risqué books, censored in Britain and America, that were permitted in France in English-language versions only. It evolved from his father’s Obelisk Press, famous for publishing Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Girodias published Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, J. P. Donleavy’s 1955 The Ginger Man (involving a 20-year lawsuit), and works by Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, John Glassco and Christopher Logue.

He was the son of Manchester-born Jack Kahane and a French heiress, Marcelle (née Girodias). His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic. Girodias lived a relatively idyllic childhood until the Depression forced his father to take up a new profession in Paris, publishing risqué books in English for the consumption of foreign tourists, who because of censorship could not obtain such materials at home. French censorship laws had a loophole allowing English works to be published without domestic confiscation.

Jack Kahane's venture (Girodias later took his mother's birth name to hide his partially Jewish background from the Nazis) was called Obelisk Press. It published notorious works by Frank Harris, Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin, as well as several pieces of light erotica written by Kahane himself.

Girodias's involvement with his father's business started early. In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer. After his father's early death in 1939, Girodias took over publishing duties, and at the age of 20 managed to survive Paris, World War II, Occupation and paper shortages.

After the war, with his brother Eric Kahane, Girodias expanded operations, publishing Zorba the Greek (in French) and Henry Miller's Sexus, among other texts. The latter volume touched off a firestorm in France, with trials and arrests for obscenity. The Affaire Miller ended with Girodias out of jail, but bankrupt and no longer in control of his company.

Expatriate writer Austryn Wainhouse introduced Girodias to a number of writers living in Paris associated with Merlin, a literary review. Girodias famously advised the group that the way out of poverty was for everyone to come and write dirty books for his new venture Olympia Press, which took its name from the similarity to his father's company, and Manet's famous portrait of a courtesan.

Among those who wrote for Girodias in the early days were American author Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, John Glassco and Christopher Logue. Alexander Trocchi, John Stevenson (Marcus Van Heller), Glassco and Logue penned "db's" ("dirty books") for the Atlantic Library Series, a short-lived line of erotica. Beckett published Watt and his Malone Trilogy through the more literary Collection Merlin. The South African poet Sinclair Beiles was an editor at Olympia.

After several police crackdowns, Girodias shifted his imprints, replacing the Atlantic Library with the Traveller's Companion Series, beginning with The Enormous Bed by John Coleman. Legal difficulties persuaded Girodias to include less openly erotic and more literary works in the series, and number six, Denny Bryant's Tender Was My Flesh, was followed by The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy.

His books were published in the United States under the Olympia Press, Traveller's Companion, Ophelia Press and Venus Freeway imprints. His erotic and hardcore pornographic books were published also in the United Kingdom, in West Germany, Denmark and in The Netherlands under the Olympia Press imprint.

Girodias tended not to pay his writers, if he could avoid it, not to document his work, or even live up to his contracts. He was involved in litigation concerning Lolita, Candy, The Ginger Man, Stradella and O, among other works. In the cases of Candy and O, Girodias won, setting a great deal of copyright precedents. In the cases of Lolita and The Ginger Man, he lost.

Maurice Girodias died in Paris of a heart attack on 3 July 1990 at age 71.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Glassco, John (born 15 December 1909)
  • associate relationship with Miller, Henry (born 26 December 1891)


Source Notes

Birth certificate in hand from Sy Scholfield, copy on file (Paris Archives, 16 arr., no. 319). Marriage, divorce and death data in margin.


  • Traits : Body : Race (Romanian-Jewish)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Heart disease/attack (Fatal)
  • Family : Childhood : Family noted
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Loss - Bankruptcy
  • Personal : Death : Illness/ Disease (Heart attack)
  • Vocation : Business : Business owner (Olympia Press)
  • Vocation : Writers : Autobiographer
  • Vocation : Writers : Fiction
  • Vocation : Writers : Publisher/ Editor (Book publisher)