Obituary: Phil Pelham

Obituary: Phil Pelham

Hodder & Stoughton c.e.o. Jamie Hodder-Williams pays tribute to Hodder field sales manager Phil Pelham.

Hodder field sales manager Phil Pelham has died, aged 65. Phil started his Hodder life at Coronet, which was at the time a separate paperback division under Eddie Bell. The paperbacks he sold in colossal volumes included the early Maeve Binchy novels, Jeffrey Archer’s huge bestsellers, Jean M Auel, Noel Barber, James Clavell, James Herbert and Stephen King at his mass-market peak.

In the old days of massive targets for reps, prizes and competitions galore, Phil regularly took home the money, and his sales always peaked dramatically towards year-end, when calcula- tions were finalised. When some of the Hodder sales team moved to HarperCollins with Eddie Bell, Phil stayed with Hodder & Stoughton, loyal to his colleagues and, in particular, loyal to his authors.

When publishing became vertical and hardback sales teams merged with paperback teams, Phil brought his paperback selling skills to bear and sold huge volumes, being instrumental in the launch of Rosamunde Pilcher’s career.

The biggest challenge to Phil’s career came from our sports publisher Roddy Bloomfield. Manchester City had no supporter more fervent than Phil. He was there when they were relegated, and when they triumphed. So when Roddy acquired Sir Alex Ferguson’s Managing My Life, Phil might have found it a little challenging. In fact, no one could have championed those books more strongly—Phil must have been single-handedly responsible for hundreds of thousands of Ferguson books sold in Manchester, and took huge pride in the part he played in creating what was, at the time, the fastest-selling memoir since records began. His dedication and professionalism would be hard to match and he set the standard for excellence. Our editors, publicists and authors miss Phil already, and many of the authors he helped launch continue to thrive today.