2017 Speakers

  • Hilary Murray-Hill

    C.e.o., Hachette Children's Group

    Hilary was born in Gloucester and grew up in Mumbai and Bedford. She studied Social Sciences at South Bank Polytechnic spending a sabbatical year as General Secretary of the South Bank student union. Hilary was a keen political activist, campaigning against apartheid and grant cuts, and in the support of miners during the long 1980s strike.  Her first job in publishing, in 1988, was as a UK trade sales secretary at Hamlyn, then part of Reed Books. She left Reed in 1992 to work for a new start-up, Carlton Books (now the Carlton Publishing Group), leaving to take up her first role in children’s books, as Marketing Manager at Usborne Publishing, in 2000. In 2005 she moved to Scholastic Children’s Books as Sales and Marketing Director, and was made Managing Director in 2009. Scholastic was chosen as The Bookseller Children’s Publisher of the Year in 2013. She accepted a new position as Managing Director of Books for Egmont in 2014 but left later that year when she was appointed CEO of the newly formed Hachette Children’s Group. 


    Hilary has pursued a strategy of ‘radical clustering’ of the publishing teams at Hachette, creating new pre-school and trade non-fiction imprints and a greatly enhanced licensed programme. She has placed a strong focus on UK and international Group collaboration and innovation in marketing and publicity. The discovery of new talent from the widest possible sources and continual development of outreach are also major themes; Hilary has sponsored projects as part of the Hachette diversity programme, has mentored young people both within and outside Hachette, and instituted the Carmelite Picture Book Prize, for undergraduate students of illustration, now in its 2nd year, and The Enid Blyton Entertainment bursary scheme for student teachers.

    In her spare time, Hilary has raised over £10,000 for breast cancer charities, is a former school governor, and a keen reader of contemporary fiction. Her favourite adult author is Jane Gardam and she recently appeared on Backlisted podcast, talking about Jane’s book A Long Way From Verona. She regularly travels to India – her childhood home and favourite country. 

  • Marian Thérèse Keyes

    Senior executive librarian, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries

    Marian Thérèse Keyes is a senior executive librarian with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries and she co-produces the annual Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival. She was a former reviews editor of Inis Magazine and President of the Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature from 2011-13.

    @mountainstosea / @dlr_pop / @M_T_K_2_2_6_2 

  • Anna Bassi

    Editor, The Week Junior

    Anna has been creating magazines for young people for more than 20 years. From TV tie-ins to educational titles on subjects ranging from Roald Dahl to the Royal Ballet, she’s now added Britain’s fastest growing children’s magazine to her list. As editor of The Week Junior Anna is at the helm of a superbly innovative and multi award-winning title, which has proved not only that children are interested in current affairs but that they want to read, write, think and talk about what’s going on in the world.

    @mrsb_dda / @theweekjunior

  • Allie Esiri

    Writer and editor

    Allie Esiri is a former English stage, film and TV actress, described by Tatler as a ‘poetry powerhouse’. Her previous collection A Poem for Every Night of the Year was a phenomenal success, with rave reviews from a wide range of publications including the Observer, Books for Keeps, Prima, Tatler and You magazine. Allie is an accomplished host of events, including at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, the Sunday Times Education Festival, the Oldie Soho Literary Festival and the Hay Festival. Her Platform at the National Theatre in November 2016 with special guests Samuel West and Hattie Morahan was a sell-out success to an audience of over 1000 people.


  • Kiran Millwood Hargrave


    Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990 and studied at both Cambridge and Oxford University. She is an award-winning poet, with three collections published (the first at the age of twenty), and has completed residencies in Banff, Tokyo and Whitstable. Her debut children’s novel The Girl of Ink & Stars was one of the bestselling children’s debuts of 2016, and won both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Book of the Year. Her new novel, The Island at the End of Everything, is out now. She currently lives in Oxford.

    Twitter: @kiran_mh

  • Barry Cunningham

    Publisher and managing director, Chicken House Books

    Barry Cunningham has had an impressive career in publishing. After an English degree at Cambridge, he joined Penguin Books in 1977. As Children’s Marketing Director for Puffin, he worked with all the great names in children’s books including Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan, and was responsible for the re-launch of Beatrix Potter. In 1984 he was promoted to the Penguin Board and became responsible for the marketing of all Penguin Books, a position he held until 1988, when he was headhunted by Random House.

    In 1994 he was approached by Bloomsbury to set up their first children’s book list. Not only was the new list a success, but Barry soon became one of the best known names in publishing after he signed up J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

    Barry left Bloomsbury at the height of its success and, in early 2000, decided to start his own publishing company. The result was Chicken House, a lively and creative company publishing highly original and enjoyable children’s books, with a special emphasis on new fiction.

    Twitter: @barrychicken 

  • Dotti Irving

    Managing director, Four Colman Getty

    •          Dotti is the founder and chief executive of Four Colman Getty, which she set up as Colman Getty in 1987. The founding principles of the company were Dotti’s own passions for culture and campaigning, both of which continue to be the core business of Four Colman Getty today

    •          Four Colman Getty is an organisation that uses culture and campaigning to build profile for its clients who include the Man Booker Prizes and the Michelangelo Foundation.

    •          Dotti is involved in much of the strategic and creative thinking that is one of the hallmarks of Four Colman Getty. With an extensive contacts base that spans arts, culture, business and the media, her particular areas of interest are brand building, awards and handling partnership deals on behalf of clients

    •          Dotti is a lifelong member of the Groucho Club and a director of the Deborah Rogers Foundation. She regularly features in the PR Week’s Power Book and in the Bookseller Top 100.

    •          Being part of the larger company, Four Communications, has enabled Four Colman Getty to expand its reach, working with the in-house Travel, Public Affairs, Luxury and Design teams. Four Engage is the latest company to join the group and brings a truly exciting offer for clients who want to identify, target and connect with high value audiences. 

  • Kath Ludlow

    Managing director, Four Engage

    •          Kath is one of the UK’s leading brand content strategists with over 25 years’ experience at connecting high-value audiences with key messaging via targeting and segmentation.

    •          Before co-founding Four Engage, Kath was Editorial Director at WPP’s Forward, responsible for customer programmes including finance (Barclays, Standard Life) retail (Tesco, B&Q), automotive (Ford) and luxury (Bang & Olufsen, Patek Philippe)

    •          Kath founded Legend Engage in May 2013 with Rachel O’Sullivan. Together, they developed the agency’s proprietary data-led insights methodology, Mapper360TM, delivering deeper insights that inform all aspects of campaign strategy. Services include persona development and segmentation; proactive, data-driven campaign management; brand and competitor benchmarking and buzz analysis; and influencer mapping. This methodology powers their full suite of highly effective digital and social media content marketing. Shortlisted for Best Use of Insights at The Drum’s Social Buzz Awards, this methodology allows brands to identify, target and connect with high value audiences and rapidly grow fanbases and sales.  

    •          Acquired by Four in March 2017 and rebranding as Four Engage, the agency now delivers data-driven insights and highly effective campaigns for brands including entertainment (Global Radio, Guinness World Records), hospitality (BBC Good Food Show, Gardener’s World Live, National Pet Show) and healthcare (Puressentiel, Infirst, HRA Pharma).

  • Lauren Ace

    Brand director, Little Tiger Group

    Lauren Ace is Brand Director at the Little Tiger Group, where she began her publishing career as Publicity Assistant nearly ten years ago. In the intervening years she worked as Senior Publicity Manager at Macmillan Children’s Books and Campaigns Director at Riot Communications. In 2014 she won the Publisher’s Publicity Circle award for Children’s Campaign of the Year and was named a Rising Star by The Bookseller. 

    Job title: Brand Director, Little Tiger Group


  • Charlie Morris

    Publicity and marketing executive, Little Tiger Group

    Charlie Morris is Publicity and Marketing Executive at the Little Tiger Group. She has previously worked at Orion, Oxford University Press and as a bookseller. Immersed in the Young Adult community as a blogger, Charlie arranges monthly author takeovers on MuggleNet, guest reviews for The F Word and Inclusive Minds, and blogs about the importance of a reflective and inclusive literary landscape that sees a place for everyone. 

    Job title: Publicity and Marketing Executive, Little Tiger Group


  • Darren Chetty

    Teacher and writer

    Darren Chetty is a doctoral candidate and Teaching Fellow at UCL Institute of Education. He taught in London primary schools for twenty years. His research focuses on Philosophy for Children, Multiculturalism and Racism. Darren is a reviewer for Letterbox Library, a Special Advisor for #BAMEed and Breakin Convention and co-chair of the Committee on Race and Ethnicity of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.

    Job title: Teacher and Writer


  • Ger Graus OBE

    Director of education, UK & global, KidZania

    Ger moved to the United Kingdom in 1983 when he began his teaching career at Taverham High School in Norwich. Between 1991 and 1996 Ger was Adviser for Manchester City Council, responsible for the introduction of Modern Languages into primary schools.

    During 2007 Ger was appointed as the founding Chief Executive of the Children’s University, which under his leadership became a  multiple-award winning international charity providing 5 to 14 year olds with exciting, innovative learning opportunities outside the  normal school day. Successive independent evaluations by the University of Cambridge demonstrate that, through Children's University  participation, significant differences to children's lives are achieved. The evaluations clearly highlight Ger’s contribution in this.

    Ger Graus was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Staffordshire University in 2011 and was made an Adjunct Fellow by the University  of Adelaide in 2013. He was also awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to children. In 2014 Ger also joined KidZania London as Chief  Education Officer, having previously also advised KidZania on educational and partnership matters.

  • Catherine Johnson


    Catherine Johnson has written many books for YA and young readers including Carnegie nominated and YA Book Prize shortlisted The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo, and Sawbones also nominated for the Carnegie and winner of Young Quills award for historical fiction. She also writes for TV and Film including Bullet Boy. Her latest book is Blade and Bone.


  • Miranda McKearney OBE

    Founder, EmpathyLab

    Miranda is a social entrepreneur inspired by the power of words to change lives. She founded national charity The Reading Agency in 2002 after 25 years of pioneering work on marketing literature and libraries and received an OBE in 2005 for services to libraries.  Miranda has now embarked on a new life which involves spending much less time on the 7.48 toWaterloo. She has started a new organisation, EmpathyLab, which aims to build children’s empathy skills and social activism through stories.  In her spare time Miranda goes trekking and reads ferociously. She is a trustee of Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chair of the Book Marketing Society.  

    @MirandaMcK  @EmpathyLabUK 

  • Robin Banerjee

    Professor of developmental psychology, University of Sussex

    Robin Banerjee is Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Sussex. He works closely with EmpathyLab on the evolution of its programme. Professor Banerjee directs the university’s CRESS (Children’s Relationships, Emotions, and Social Skills) research lab, leading investigations of children's social and emotional functioning, and working closely with practitioners and policymakers in the areas of education and mental health. CRESS research is based in the School of Psychology and is closely affiliated with Sussex's interdisciplinary Centre for Research in Childhood and Youth.  Recent studies have examined the factors involved in peer acceptance and rejection, the social and cognitive processes involved in childhood social anxiety, and the connections between consumer culture, peer relationships, and well-being in school children.  

    A core applied focus of the CRESS lab is the development and evaluation of school-based strategies to support pupils' social and emotional functioning.  Robin is currently working with EmpathyLab on its innovative educational strategies to foster empathy in pupils at school, particularly through reading and engaging with books and stories.

  • Cristina Fuentes la Roche

    International director, Hay Festival

    Cristina Fuentes La Roche is International Director of Hay Festival, overseeing festivals in Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and Denmark. Prior to this, she was Director of National Events at Canning House, the House of Latin America in London, promoting cultural understanding between the region and the UK. During her time at Hay Festival, she has developed and directed a series projects promoting emerging talent from around the world, partnering Unesco World Book Capital: Bogota39 in 2007, Beirut39 in 2010, Africa39 in 2014, Aarhus39 in 2017, and the upcoming Bogota39-2017.

    Twitter @hayfestival

    Facebook /hayfestival

    Instagram @hayfestival

  • Adele Minchin

    Associate director, Riot Communications

    Adele Minchin is Associate Director at award-winning consumer PR agency specialising in culture and entertainment, Riot Communications. A Public Relations expert with over 18 years of experience, Adele was previously Publicity Director at Penguin Children’s Books where she helped launch the careers of children's writers including Eoin Colfer, Meg Rosoff, Jeff Kinney, Rick Riordan, Cathy Cassidy to name a few. 

  • Dr Alice Curry

    Founder and publisher, Lantana Publishing

    Alice Curry is the Founder and Publisher of Lantana Publishing, an award-winning independent publishing company nominated for the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year 2017. A former academic lecturer and freelance editor, Alice is this year’s winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize.

  • Nadine Kaadan

    Children's author and illustrator

    Nadine Kaadan is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, whose mission it is to spread a reading culture in the Arab world, in a way that is inspired by Syria’s rich heritage. Her book Answer me, Leila! won the Anna Lindh award for the best fiction book for children with special needs in 2011. Her latest title The Jasmine Sneeze, published by Lantana Publishing, is one of the first children’s books in the UK that touches on Syria’s long and proud culture and heritage in a period of history marred by war. Nadine has been invited to speak at several international book fairs, and her work was recently featured in a BBC short film under the title ‘Writer Nadine Kaadan Helps Syrian Children Understand War’, and was also featured in CNN Connect the World  program among others.

  • Mel Taylor-Bessent

    Director, Authorfy

    After completing her Professional & Creative Writing degree in 2009, Mel created Little Star Writing workshops to introduce children to the fun and rewarding nature of creative writing. After running workshops all over the world and winning the 'Best Educational Provider of the Year' award in 2016, Mel launched Authorfy, an online platform that used author videos and associated learning resources to inspire children, support teachers, and promote authors. Above all, she wanted to add creativity to the curriculum and start a 'Literacy Revolution' in schools throughout the world. 

  • Mainga Bhima

    Assistant editor, Penguin Random House Children's

    Mainga Bhima is an assistant editor in the fiction team at Penguin Random House Children’s. She works with a wide range of authors including Nicola Yoon, Jacqueline Wilson and Jennifer Bell, and is commissioning diverse books for children and young people aged 5–18.

  • Nazneen Ahmed

    Research associate, University College London & author

    Nazneen is British Bangladeshi and lives in Southampton. She is currently Research Associate in the geography department at University College London. She was selected for the WriteNow scheme for her historical fantasy novel for young adults, titled The Strange Children of Spittlefields which is set in 19th century Bengal, Gujarat and London. From June 2017 she also holds the role of Writer in Residence at Southampton’s public libraries, in association with the Arts Council funded project So:Write. She is represented by Louise Lamont at LBA Books.

  • James McKnight

    Chief creative officer, The Blair Partnership

    James McKnight, Chief Creative Officer at The Blair Partnership, is a brand strategist and creative director working across all areas of the Wizarding World brands including Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.

    As J.K. Rowling's agent, The Blair Partnership takes a creatively focused approach to brand management and franchise strategy, collaborating with many different partners on projects including publishing, films, experiential, theatrical and digital entertainment.

    Projects undertaken in the last year include the launch of the sell out stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and accompanying play-script, the first movie in a new series from Warner Bros., Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and most recently, the start of the Harry Potter 20th anniversary activities in the UK with Bloomsbury.

    Before joining The Blair Partnership, James held commercial, marketing and creative development roles in publishing at HarperCollins and Nickelodeon before moving into a career in entertainment, digital, consumer products and brand strategy for the Hello Kitty and Moshi Monsters brands. He joined The Blair Partnership in 2015.


  • Japhet Asher

    digital director, Carlton Publishing

    Japhet Asher is digital director at Carlton Publishing. He overseas the creative process for new print/digital formats, notably with augmented reality. He also creates new brands and develops business opportunities in print and digital content.

  • Julia White

    entertainment and lifestyle partnerships, Twitter

    Julia manages Entertainment and Lifestyle content partners for Twitter UK. This role sees her responsible for developing commercial and creative content partnerships across fashion, beauty, parenting, lifestyle, comedy and film, with a focus on video and live video. She works with a range of premium publishers like ELLE, i-D magazine, the Royal Family, Mumsnet and the British Fashion Council. It's her job to help them reach their Twitter potential whether it be innovation, reach or revenue. This job has seen her work on everything from the #Shakespeare400 campaign to Taste Festival to London Fashion Week. She joined Twitter in 2015 having previously led award-winning teams for 10 years in social media and digital content across global brands like Yahoo and OK! Magazine.

  • Lucy Powrie

    book blogger and YouTuber

    Lucy Powrie is a YA book blogger at queenofcontemporary.com and YouTuber at youtube.com/lucythereader. She is also the creator and host of the nationally trending YA Twitter chat #ukyachat. Since creating her blog in 2012 and her YouTube channel in 2013, she has reached over 1 million page views and 10,000 subscribers, and is very proud of the community of engaged YA readers she has built up.


  • Ian Hudson

    Worldwide c.e.o., DK

    Ian was appointed DK CEO in July 2016 and is responsible for this multi-award-winning global publisher, creating books in over 60 languages, selling to over 100 countries with offices across the globe.

    Ian began his career in publishing at magazine publisher Marshall Cavendish, where he became European Director. Ian joined Random House in 1992, working in a number of commercial, operations and publishing roles before becoming Deputy Group CEO of Random House in 2005.  In this capacity Ian led, amongst other things, the company’s strategic development and digital transition. Ian was part of the team that successfully completed the deal to merge Penguin and Random House in 2013. Post merger, Ian was appointed to two roles, as CEO of Penguin Random House International (English Language) and Deputy CEO of Penguin Random House UK. In these capacities led the operational integration of the two companies outside North America.  In his International role, Ian oversaw the Penguin Random House businesses in Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Singapore and South Africa.

    Ian was elected a member of the Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann in 2008, chairs the Bertelsmann Management Representation Committee, and was founding chair of the Bertelsmann UK Operations Group. Ian is a former Council Member and President of the UK Publishers Association, and is currently a Non-Executive Director of Which?, the commercial arm of the UK Consumers Association.

  • Nick Marsh

    Vice president of product, Wonderbly

    Nick Marsh is the VP of Product at Wonderbly, a tech and storytelling start-up that creates magical, personalised books for children. Nick has a background in design and entrepreneurship with experience of hiring and leading multi-disciplinary teams of designers, software engineers, researchers and strategists to develop remarkable new products, and services, for big companies, small start-ups and his own ventures.

  • Lauren Child

    Author, illustrator, Waterstones childrens laureate 2017 – 2019

    Lauren Child is a multi-award-winning, bestselling writer and artist. She is the creator of many much-loved characters, including Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola. Her first two books were published in 1999 – I Want a Pet and Clarice Bean, That’s Me, and she won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000 for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, the first of her Charlie and Lola picture books. Lauren published her first Clarice Bean novel in 2002 – Utterly Me, Clarice Bean. The Clarice Bean series has sold over 6 million copies worldwide. In 2010 she was awarded an MBE for Services to Literature. She was announced as the 10th Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate in 2017.

  • Catherine Clarke

    Managing director and literary agent, Felicity Bryan Associates

    Catherine Clarke was Publishing Director of the Trade Books Department at OUP for several years before she joined Felicity Bryan as an agent in 2001. She represents a broad range of writers of serious non-fiction, including history, biography, nature writing, and philosophy.  She also represents a number of bestselling and prizewinning writers for children and young adults. She became Managing Director of Felicity Bryan Associates in 2010. In 2017 she was chosen as winner of the Bookseller Literary Agent of the Year.

  • Tamara Macfarlane

    ,Owner Tales on Moon Lane Children's Bookshop, Moon Lane Education and Moon Lane Ink CIC

    Tamara Macfarlane is the owner of Tales on Moon Lane bookshop; winner of Children’s Independent Bookshop of the Year 2008 and 2011, London’s Independent Bookshop of the Year 2017 and Children’s Bookseller of the Year 2017.  Tamara combines running the bookshop with writing children’s books; she is the author of the Amazing Esme series (published by Hodder), co-author of the Dylan's Amazing Dinosaurs series (published by Simon and Schuster), and has just signed a three-book deal with Troika Books for the Comic Shop Mysteries Series, featuring superhero, Komodo Jones.

    Tamara has also set up Moon Lane Ink CIC, a community interest company dedicated to raising equality in children’s books.
    Tamara has judged many book awards, appeared at Bath, Oxford and Hay festivals, and runs various children's book festivals throughout the school year.

  • Alex O'Connell

    Arts editor, The Times

    Alex O'Connell is arts editor of The Times and the paper's children's book critic. She has three children and lives in London.

  • Ron Fogelman

    Writer, producer and rights specialist

    Ron Fogelman is an established Film & Media executive, writer and producer working across the spectrum of traditional & new media.  

    Ron is currently producing a major stage version of the acclaimed CBS TV Show THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This unique production receive its World Premiere at London’s prestigious Almeida Theatre in December 2017. The show will be directed by Richard Jones - winner of seven Laurence Olivier awards - and is to be adapted by New York playwright Anne Washburn.

    Ron’s consultancy and rights advisory business supports major corporations, independent producers and trade bodies operating in the international Film, TV, Stage and New Media industries. His commercial consultancy works across all disciplines of production, financing and distribution.


    Ron is also in a writing partnership with US writer, Kent Murray. They have co-created, written and developed THE PLOT, a one hour genre show acquired by Sony Pictures Television in the US with Davis Entertainment (THE BLACKLIST) producing. Ron is represented by WME in the US and United Agents in the UK.   

    Ron’s previous writing credits include the episode OBSESSION for Warner Bros. Animation’s Emmy-winning SUPERMAN – THE ANIMATED SERIES. 

    Ron’s corporate career has included senior positions on both the Independent and US Studio sides of the business. As an alumnus of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Ron handled licensing & distribution on their varied slate of movies including NOTTING HILL, THE BIG LEBOWSKI and THE GREEN MILE.  He subsequently held the position of Senior Vice-President – International Sales & Development at Universal Studios. There he negotiated major territory deals and co-ordinated distribution for projects such as Ridley Scott’s HANNIBAL, O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, BILLY ELLIOT and SPY GAME.

  • Phil Henderson

    Books buying manager, ASDA

    A native of Aberdeen, Phil Henderson studied History at the University of Glasgow before joining ASDA’s Graduate Training Scheme in 1997,  Following a variety of roles in stores, he moved into ASDA House to join the trading team in 2000 and since then has bought everything from frying pans to Christmas trees.  In 2014 he assumed responsibility for the Books category and has remained in place since.  In addition to his ASDA role, Phil is a member of the Council of the Booksellers’ Association of the UK & Ireland. 

    Along with his passion for books, Phil cares deeply about childrens’ literacy and is working to develop links between ASDA and a variety of charitable bodies to deliver more funding and engagement in this area.

    As a father of three, Phil has been involved in ongoing end-user trialling across childrens publishing since 2003, and in the spare time left after work and family commitments he is an avid hill-walker and a supporter of Aberdeen FC.

  • Daphne Lao Tonge

    Founder and owner, Illumicrate

    Daphne is a lifelong bibliophile and the founder of Illumicrate, the UK's first subscription box for YA and crossover titles. She enjoys unique, beautifully written books, fantasy and speculative fiction, and a good graphic novel. She blogs at Winged Reviews, loves tea, first editions, and fictional princes. She lives and works in London.


  • Kate Manning

    Sales and marketing director, Scoop Magazine
  • Tom Bonnick

    Business development manager and commissioning editor
  • Nina Douglas

    Freelancer, Nina Douglas PR