Roger Farrand obituary

Other lives: Publisher of scientific journals who became a champion of artists’ printmaking

My friend Roger Farrand, who has died aged 86, was publisher and then owner of the quarterly Printmaking Today magazine, which has provided a much-needed voice for artist-printmakers since the 1990s.

The magazine’s founder and editor, Rosemary Simmons, had set it up in 1991. Roger came along shortly afterwards to lend her the professional expertise he had gained from a long career in publishing. When the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers offered a blanket subscription to the magazine for its members, it really began to flourish. Roger and Rosemary then enlarged upon its quality and readership until she was able to retire and he could become its owner.

He appointed the engraver Anne Desmet as the new editor, establishing it as an advocate of the argument that printmaking is an original art form equal in status to the other visual arts. Roger sold the title to Cello Press in 2000 and then retired.

Born in Warwick, the son of Ernest Farrand, a railway signalman, and Lucy (nee Edna), a cook, Roger attended Warwick Grammar school and then won a scholarship to study history at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. There he met fellow student Gillian Hanson. After national service in Malta and Tripoli he married Gillian in 1958, and they raised three children.

Roger began his publishing career in 1957 as an editor at Reader’s Digest magazine before joining Academic Press in London, first as editorial director and then, in 1971, as managing director. During his time there he saw the commercial potential of academic publishing and developed a business model replicated later by larger publishing houses such as Reed Elsevier. By the time he left Academic Press it had 50 journals on its list, including titles such as the Journal of Molecular Biology and the Journal of Sound and Vibration.

In 1982 he set up his own company, Farrand Press, which also produced scientific journals, notably the British Journal of Psychiatry, as well as books of medical research, some of them by Gillian, who became a specialist in intensive care treatment and diabetes mellitus. He wound the company up in 2000 when he retired.

Roger was a polymath and a linguist, a generous man with interests in hill walking, rugby, opera and wine. He had a wonderfully sharp wit and enjoyed the company of many friends.

He also travelled widely in Nepal and Bhutan with Gillian. On a trek in the Himalayas in 1996 they reached 17,000ft, at which height they were both stricken by pneumonia. Although Roger recovered, Gillian developed pneumococcal septicaemia, which led to her death from septic shock shortly after they returned to Britain.

He is survived by their children, Timothy, Anthony and Stephanie, and 10 grandchildren.

Joseph Winkelman

The GuardianTramp

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