Main content

Sebastian Walker

Episode 8 of 8

Lynn Barber chooses ‘Where’s Wally?’ book publisher, Sebastian Walker. With Mirabel Cecil and Matthew Parris. From May 2012.

Lynn Barber first met Sebastian Walker at Oxford. "He was the first person I'd ever met who was gay...quite funny looking with a big adam's apple and bespeckled face...he dressed in a very dandy way."

He formed Walker Books in 1978 which, in Lynn's words, "launched a whole new era of children's book publishing." He took every opportunity to reinvent the rules of publishing - he paid the illustrators more money than anyone else, befriending the likes of Maurice Sendak and Helen Oxenbury till they agreed to work for him. He struck a deal to sell books through Sainsbury's supermarkets and justified it in the name of child literacy. Titles like 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' and 'Where's Wally? would establish Walker Books as a major player in children's book publishing. Walker would describe the financial side of business as a "bore" preferring to spend his money on lavish parties for his friends.

Lynn Barber talks to Matthew Parris about why Sebastian Walker remains such a memorable friend. They're joined by Walker's sister and biographer Mirabel Cecil who says her brother "..had very little sense of his own identity", and that his one true love was really the piano.

Producer: Toby Field

First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2012.

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Friday 00:30

More episodes


You are at the last episode

See all episodes from Great Lives


Great Rock and Roll Lives

Great Rock and Roll Lives

Stories of inspiration from great musicians from Bowie to Billie Holliday

Download this programme

Download this programme

Subscribe to this programme or download individual episodes.