Jeremy Addis Obituary

Jeremy Cecil Addis was a considerable character whose presence was nationally and internationally known through Books Ireland the magazine founded by him in 1976 in County Kilkenny after some years working with Browne & Nolan in Dublin. He was widely knowledgeable in book-design, publishing, literature and history; a self-effacing, private person who rarely attended arts and literature events or launches. Jeremy wasn’t one to boast, yet he outdid the Irish Times and the broadsheet Press in having more Irish books in lengthy reviews each issue which is possible in an exclusive books journal. Books Ireland is circulated by subscription to cultural institutions and libraries worldwide for the Irish Diaspora, as well as the local market.

I spent ten years working in Sandymount, Dublin as deputy editor along with him and his team, including Shirley Kelly (Features), Siobhán Ní Fhoghliú (Gaelic Editor), and Lucy Tucker (Advertising Manager). The ‘infamous’ BI Office known to the reviewers and visitors was always crammed to the door with books, outdoing any bookshop in terms of the just published. Every book that arrived was listed in the First Flush column which became the central information source, latterly on disc for the publishing industry, and still is under the current editor, Tony Canavan. The Books Ireland Christmas Party on January 6 became a tradition that Jeremy insisted upon to restart the year and has become an immovable feast.

He hired and paid his reviewers well but was selective in choosing them, demanding vast background and objectivity. He never ‘censored’ content; there was no general reviewing policy, hence the eclectic mix of forthright expert viewpoint-reviews. The magazine was run in an atmosphere of fun and seriousness. He was often hilarious in telling about the book world that he loved: the vanity fair of gossip, the backbiting and paranoia. He always joked with writers for their Irish-English usage.  

Books Ireland had its successes, scandals, and threatened libels which Jeremy faced with good humour and aplomb. The financial premise of the magazine often encountered shortfall and near dissolution. In March of this year, Jeremy celebrated 40 years of the publication at a ceremonies in his honour in Dublin and London. Amidst the retrospect was the fact that in December 2012 Books Ireland lost all sponsorship including the Arts Councils, North and South in one of those out of the blue ‘cuts policies’. Thankfully, Nick Maxwell of Wordwell with his team stepped in and amazingly re-floated the magazine in the Spring of 2013. Wordwell also produce History Ireland and Archaeology Ireland.   

Jeremy Addis was born in Oxshott, Surrey. His father, Eric Elrington Addis was a barrister in London who joined the navy at the outbreak of WWII. Lieutenant E. E. Addis, second-in- command of the HMS Warspite was killed during a German bombing raid in Alexandria. Jeremy’s mother, Hazel Iris Wilson was a Hutchinson romantic novelist, writing under the pen name, Hazel Adair. His father, under the pen name Peter Drax wrote thrillers for Hutchinson, including the co-authored Sing A Song of Murder with Hazel which reached a French edition.

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