In our last newsletter I mentioned Martyn Goff, for three decades the eminence grise of the (Man) Booker Prize, who had died after a long period of declining health. By a cruel twist of fate, this month then saw the death of Ion Trewin, Martyn's successor for the next decade.
I’ve had the great pleasure of working with them both and although they seemed dissimilar, they had a lot in common. Their love of literature, publishing, gossip, a good lunch… and, of course, the Man Booker Prize.
Ion's funeral, held last week in the beautiful church at Sandringham and attended by family and friends, both local and from the world of publishing, was a warm and loving tribute to a special man. A memorial service in his honour will take place at St Martins-in-the-field on Wednesday 30 September.
Publishing parties seem to be more of a rarity than ever this year so it was a particular pleasure to be invited last week to the party to celebrate the completion of the collected Everyman Wodehouse series and announce the shortlist for the 2015 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. The evening was worthy of the best Wodehouse novel with memorable speeches from Everyman Publisher, David Campbell, Sir Edward Cazalet, step-grandson of the great man himself, and John Franklin from Bollinger. It was a party to remember - helped no doubt by liberal samples of the sponsor's utterly quaffable product!
This month, I was involved in a campaign in an altogether different way when a last minute venue change left our campaigning and digital in need of a location for a video shoot. Working with the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, the team was filming a video documenting a soap star’s education in how to make pasta. Unfortunately the kitchen they had rented fell through, as a result of which a film crew, two celebrities and a couple of colleagues ended up at my house! And I came home to a fridge full of beautiful fresh pasta.
The early May Bank Holiday holds a special excitement for me this year since I am jetting off to New York for a one-off event at the Morgan Library. The evening will launch the brief run of a pop up exhibition which revolves around the Morgan Library’s purchase of three annotated books, recently auctioned at Sotheby’s in their ‘First Edition, Second Thoughts’ sale. This was an auction of 50 contemporary first editions, including Wolf Hall, Amsterdam and Metroland annotated by their authors, with the proceeds going to PEN.
Excitingly we’ve also arranged for Mike Poulton, who adapted Wolf Hall for Broadway, to be our keynote speaker. We’re also expecting many writers linked to the prize who now live in and around New York to come including Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey and 2014 shortlisted writer, Joshua Ferris.
Next month is looking equally as action packed with the opening of HOME in Manchester from 21-15 May 2015 and a range of events at the Hay Literature Festival celebrating the Man Booker International Prize winner (announced on 19th May), the winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and Helen Macdonald, winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.
Busy days! More next month.