about Sylvester

Entrepreneurial days

Sylvester as a camera owner photographing his son on Primrose Hill, photographer of the photographer unknown:

During the 60s Sylvester set up his publishing company, Stonehart Publications, along with Robert Troop. It was at this time he introduced the British public to newsletters, starting with The London Property Letter.

So how do you start small? ....... I had a big think-up. Instead of a big, fat, costly magazine, with big fat advertisers, and thus the need for tens of thousands of readers to buy their goods, why not a small, intensive, concentrated publication offering serious advice to people who might need it for their career, or for especial interests, or for happiness or even just to satisfy their aspirations of easy wealth and early retirement. ......

And thus was born the idea of a newsletter, no such thing existing in Britain at the time, though there are now not hundreds, but thousands.

From I Danced with Mrs Gandhi

The Birth of Direct Mail

I myself, with Bob [Troop], another rough colonial, put marketing and PR onto an effective basis in the world. All it needed apart from a skill with words was a certain amount of cheek and insouciance and not too much damned English reserve. When we launched my flagship, Stonehart Publications, in the early 1960s, with the help of family loans, we had to find a way of selling our newly-devised publication on property. I called in Phillipa Copley-Smith my secretary, "Phillipa," I started out commandingly, "you'll run off please a thousand copies of this circular that Bob's written inviting people to take out a subscription to our newsletter; that's what we're calling this new sort of magazine, just twelve pages altogether, but very punchy and to the point, telling people how to aspire to big things - a newsletter."

"Punchy," she echoed with little enthusiasm. I stood beside her desk, holding out the copy. She peered at it, then peered all around, at the walls bare of anything but life-size posters of the Beatles which we were publishing not very successfully, then through the only window at the public car-park out there, stuffed them all into one reproving look on her face and accepted the piece of print, saying rather absently, "Oh, I see, a newsletter." Then she asked primly: "and to whom do you want me to post these circulars?"

"Just go through the telephone directory for any names and addresses of people in posh areas of London. They'll be interested, as we'll show them how to make a profit from their unused attics or basements... buy up leases... any spare space - plenty money!"

There were other magazines that came and went such as Camera Owner (later sold on to become Creative Camera under Colin Osman) and, most importantly, Running.

First issue of Running which took over from Jogging Magazine.

He was founder publisher of Running Magazine started 1980. He turned to this subject naturally as he was a longtime runner himself, a World Masters' Champion and many times British Champion over 100m and 200m in his age category. Out of Running came the newsletter Peak Performance, still being published to this day by Electric Word, the company that Julian Turner and Sylvester Stein formed in 2000 to publish Peak Performance and other sports related and educational newsletters.

Sylvester pumps iron to hone his sprinting power
Sylvester once again pipping his friends to the post winning yet another Championship medal, a subject worthy to make the cover of Gate (the Highgate Harriers club newsletter).
Cover photo: David T Hewitson

This is how the race is done and won (above) and this is the result (below).

Medal man
Photo: Doug Poole

Written to get the World on the move. Published by Corgi.

As a lover of life and wanting every one to share in its joys he wrote The Running Guide to Keeping Fit and 99 Ways to reach 100 to show people the way to a long healthy happy life.

Original cover of 99 Ways published by Century Hutchinson.
Way no 1: Above all, running!
Way no 92: Humour, laugh until it stops hurting.