Hachette Authors Mural unveiled at Carmelite House

Hachette Authors Mural unveiled at Carmelite House

Hachette UK has commemorated its first year housing all seven publishing divisions under one roof on London's Victoria Embankment by unveiling a large-scale mural at Carmelite House, described as a "river of authors" to celebrate its past, present and future.

The mural - a series of waves depicted by thousands of authors' hand-lettered names - was designed by artist Kate Forrester and created by the Graphic History Company. It runs from the lower ground floor through common parts of the building, the lobbies and staircases of Carmelite house, up to the roof terrace.

Designed to be a celebration of Hachette’s "combined, distinguished publishing history", as well as to showcase its "authors through the centuries”, the work inscribes 3,500 authors' names which have been published since 1768, the year John Murray was founded. The authors were selected from over 55,000 published over the years, whittled down by software on merit of the number of times an author has been published to find the names that "still resonate today". Each author chosen to appear has at least five publications to their name (counting multiple editions of one work) up until 2010, after which most authors Hachette publishes will be included.

Authors featured in the mural are ordered according to the decade they were first published, for example names such as Lord Byron and HG Wells are inscribed at the lower ground level, with more recent and contemporary names, such as J K Rowling, found as you ascend the building. Wall space has been left in anticipation of adding to the work with each year.

Most names will only feature once. An exception is Daphne de Maurier who is listed twice: once for Gollancz, when first published in the 1930s, and again when again published by Virago in the 1970s.

Names are colour-coded to match the imprint they are associated with, but the blue and greens are also designed to create an impression of a river flowing through the building.

Andy Goodridge, the designer who took the artwork and rendered it for installation, achieved the end result by taking Forrester's hand-lettering and applying panto colours to each individual name using high-tack vinyl. 

The project was instigated by Hachette head of communications Clare Harington, with Emma Pike, who owns the Graphic History Company, steering the project to completion. Pike was assisted by Gollancz chairman Malcolm Edwards, who was praised by Tim Hely Hutchinson for his "unique knowledge and forensic attention to detail", as part of the research, conducted with the assistance of the British Library.

In-house staff were called in to help with the mammoth task of creating the lists of names and carefully proofreading them. The project talks begun in January, with the artwork and installation completed between June and September.

Tim Hely Hutchinson said: "I didn't think Carmelite House could get any better but it just has. I was stunned this morning to see the final piece of work, the timeline and that gorgeous photograph of St Pauls during the Blitz. We all feel so honoured to work on this special place with its roots in a distinguished past and its promise of a brilliant future."

He added that the  "immensely talented artist" Forrester was now "inextricably linked with Hachette forever". Forrester has also worked on many of Hachette's imprints in the past on their covers.

"Kate, I am far from alone in adoring your evocation of the river, with the mural's endless ebbing, eddying and flowing style in such gentle watery colours and the way you have turned names into so much very more than a list. One name after another stands out and strikes you. And the whole gives an immense impression of enfolding the onlooker into a great and continuing history. What a triumph," said Hely Hutchinson.

The company’s publishing divisions were united in Carmelite House between April-May 2015. The company was previously spread out between four separate London locations - Hodder & Stoughton in Euston Road, Octopus Publishing in Shaftesbury Avenue and Orion in Upper St Martin’s Lane, in addition to Victoria Embankment, but were integrated at a single London headquarters following a deal signed in December 2013

Headline also rebranded for its 30th anniversary in July with a new logo - a looming ‘H’ - referencing the company’s new offices at Carmelite House.