Maurice Girodias photographed by Gilles Larrain
Maurice Girodias (12 April 1919 - 3 July 1990), was the founder of the The Olympia Press. At one time he was the owner of his father's Obelisk Press, and spent most of his productive years in Paris.
The son of the Manchester born Jack Kahane and a French heiress, Girodias lived a relatively idyllic childhood, until the Depression forced his father to take up a new profession, namely publishing risqué books in English at Paris 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.
Kahane's venture (Girodias later took his mother's birth name to hide his Jewish background from the Nazis) was called the 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 and 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.