About Bâton Wicks & Diadem Books
Diadem Books Limited, established in 1978 by Ken Vickers and Ken Wilson, was sold to Hodder and Stoughton in 1989 and was run from within the Hodder group with Wilson as publisher. Following the Hodder/Headline merger, Diadem publishing ended in 1993. Wilson left the company and set up Bâton Wicks to publish new titles and steadily re-acquire the Diadem list.
Both Diadem and Bâton Wicks titles predominantly concerned hillwalking, mountaineering and rock climbing. From time to time suitably related titles from other adventure sports were added. The general strategy is to acquire titles from writers, past and present, who have been intimately involved with key events and trends within broader mountaineering. Some guidebooks have been published – those related to adventurous sectors – together with short story collections, biographies and historical narratives. The adventurous diversity of British mountaineering is showcased in a series of related titles (Hard Rock – out of print, Cold Climbs and Classic Rock). Another theme is to re-popularise the great mountain writers of the past – Shipton, Smythe, Boardman, Tasker – by collecting their books into a series of omnibus volumes. Overseas focus is on the greater ranges and also the key rock climbing areas, both current and historical. A glance at our list of authors shows that many leading names are represented.
Small publishers have to rely on strong steady-selling backlists. We therefore try to publish books for the long term and keep them in print. Large illustrated titles like Classic Rock and The Mont Blanc Massif retain a steady popularity and are regarded as classics, while more modest publications such as On Thin Ice, The Games Climbers Play and Mountaineering in Scotland / Undiscovered Scotland have also been steady sellers. However, it is perhaps the publishing of some of the very best English language mountaineering biographies that Bâton Wicks is most proud of; books like Conquistadors of the Useless, Tilman the Eight Sailing and Mountain Exploration Books, Shipton the Six Mountain Travel Books and the Kurt Diemberger Omnibus.
Boardman Tasker Prizes were won by At the Rising of the Moon (Dermot Somers, 1994) and Deep Play (Paul Pritchard, 1997). In 2002 The Evidence of Things Not Seen, W.H.Murray's autobiography (published 6 years after his death), won the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival and the American Alpine Club's J. Munro Thorington Award.
In February 2013, Vertebrate Publishing acquired the entire business of Bâton Wicks Publications, including books published under the Diadem imprint.
Bâton Wicks' founder Ken Wilson, now retired, was delighted to pass on the business to Vertebrate, saying: ‘If anybody can honour the commitment to the Bâton Wicks authors and can carry forward the traditions in publishing mountaineering, outdoor and exploration books then it is Vertebrate. Few other publishers have their understanding and appreciation for the business, and we are delighted to be passing the books on to them.’
Vertebrate are committed to keeping Bâton Wicks titles in print, such as the recent reprint of Classic Rock. Many backlist titles are being given a new lease of life in digital form for e-reading devices such as Kindle and iPad under Vertebrate’s ‘Vertebrate Digital’ imprint.
In this new era for Bâton Wicks it has been exciting to publish new titles, like first-time author Gerda Pauler’s book The Great Himalaya Trail and Tony Smythe’s award-winning biography of his father, the legendary British mountaineer Frank Smythe, My Father, Frank.