Louise Dennys's introduction to the world of bookselling occurred during her summer breaks from studies at Oxford University when she worked at Blackwell's, the well-known bookstore. After graduation, she became manager of the Oxford University Press bookstore in London. Romance with a Canadian man led to her coming to Canada in 1972 where she obtained a position as editorial assistant at Clarke Irwin and later as editor. She formed a partnership with Toronto antiquarian bookseller, Hugh Anson-Cartwright, that saw the publication of five books, including The bass saxophone by Josef Skvorecky.
Dennys had been directed to Skvorecky by her uncle, the noted writer, Graham Greene. Her dedicated hand-selling of books by Skvorecky and other authors resulted in close working relationships with the writers whom she edited. The success of Anson-Cartwright Editions encouraged Ms. Dennys to try a solo publishing company specializing in foreign rights, E.L. Dennys Editions. Underfinanced, the company did not last long. However, her work had attracted the attention of Malcolm Lester and Eve Orpen.
In 1978, she joined the firm of Lester & Orpen which became Lester & Orpen Dennys the following year. There, as partner, Dennys concentrated on literary fiction, as exemplified by the company's International Fiction List. This mixed Canadian writers like Marie-Claire Blais with foreign writers such as Italo Calvino. Along with attracting good writers on an international level, Dennys and her partner established Canada as a separate market for English-language publishing rights.
The year 1991 saw Louise Dennys move to Knopf Canada to become its publisher and the Vice-President of Random House Canada. It remains to be seen if the proposed purchase of Random House Canada by the German conglomerate, Bertelsmann AG, will affect the number of Canadians on Random House Canada's author list. Meanwhile, Ms. Dennys continues to place Canadian authors in a global publishing milieu.
She has also been active in the literary and publishing communities through her work as Past President of PEN Canada; Past Chairwoman of the International Trade Committee of the Association of Canadian Publishers and lecturing in the publishing program at the Banff School of Fine Arts.
Adachi, Ken. — "Women in publishing: the gofers are gaining control." — The Toronto star. — (March 21, 1987). — P. M3
Fraser, Matthew. — "Publisher passes on council job." — The globe and mail. — (August 31, 1985). — P. E6
Lownsbrough, John. — "High-powered women in Canadian book publishing." — Chatelaine. — Vol. 58, no. 8 (August 1985). — P. 50-51, 64-68
Naiman, Sandra. — "A (beautiful) life of books : editor's story is stuff of bestseller." — The Toronto sun. — (April 5, 1982). — P. 39
Scrivener, Leslie. — "Her life reads like a bestseller." — The Toronto star. — (May 20, 1984). — P. C1, C2
Turner, Barbara. — "Lester & Orpen Dennys celebrates 10 years of success." — Quill & Quire. — Vol. 49, no. 7 (July 1983). — P. 44, 46