Trade figures have paid tribute to publicist Ariadne van de Ven, who died in March at the age of 56.
Van de Ven passed away on March 14th from bone cancer.
Born in Holland, and having obtained an MA in English at the University of Utrecht, van de Ven moved to London in 1987 where she worked for Booktrust for three years. In 1990, van de Ven founded the Women in Publishing International Committee together with Clare Baker.
She started her a career in publicity at Yale University Press and then moved to W W Norton to be its publicity manager.
Alan Cameron, former m.d. of W W Norton, said van de Ven was an “exceptional person”.
“She had vigour, enthusiasm and a thorough grasp of current affairs, politics and English literature; qualities she put to good use as Norton's publicity manager”, Cameron said. “She was able to cultivate literary editors and reviewers, and within a few months she had transformed our publicity offering. Shortly after joining Norton, she arranged a lecture tour for the late feminist poet and critic, Adrienne Rich, who wrote afterwards to say that she quickly felt she was in the best of hands. Ariadne formed strong relationships with our authors and many, such as Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar, Richard Sennett, Henry-Louis Gates and Wynton Marsalis have cause to be grateful for the efforts she made on their behalf.”
Judith Pamplin, director of sales, and Victoria Keown-Boyd, marketing manager of W W Norton, added: “The intelligence Ariadne brought to the varied projects she worked on meant the results she gained were second to none.This had an inspiring effect on all who worked with her and stays with us. Her thoughtfulness and strong commitment to her moral principles will be greatly missed. Ariadne’s loss is heartfelt by her numerous friends in the world of books and beyond.”
In 2000, van de Ven became a freelance publicist, working for among others, Profile Books, Harvard University Press, MIT Press, Columbia University Press, Princeton University Press, the University Press of California and Atlantic Books.
Andrew Franklin, m.d. of Profile Books, said van de Ven was “marvellously spirited and very thoughtful”.
“She took a much more passionate interest in the books—and most of all their content and argument—than most publicists. She brought a formidable range of interests—and a searing political commitment—to her work”, he said.
Ann Sexsmith, previous director of Harvard and MIT, added: “Ariadne's ability to see straight to the argument of the book and to understand and support its author was outstanding. She combined insight, tact, sympathy and realism with a light touch. A delight as a colleague, it was more delightful still to find in her a friend. The grace and resolve she showed in her work was there in the weeks of her short illness and in her too early death.”