Literary agent Clare Alexander is one of three new trustees to join writers’ development agency New Writing North along with education expert Mike Parker and writer Degna Stone.
Alexander, chair of Aitken Alexander, has joined the the board for the organisation based in Newcastle which focuses on creative writing and reading in the North of England, and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
After more than 20 years as a publisher, latterly as Publisher of Viking and Hamish Hamilton and editor-in-chief of Macmillan, Alexander became a literary agent in 1998, working with Gillon Aitken at his eponymous agency. The company became Aitken Alexander Associates in 2005. It is now led by Alexander.
Alexander revealed she had long admired the "outstanding energy and impact" of New Writing North.
"There is much talk about diversity in publishing at the moment," she said. "My own client list includes many writers from places like Nigeria, Pakistan, the Caribbean and elsewhere. But I wanted a new challenge that would take me to another part of the UK, and to help me better understand how the charitable sector and commercial publishing might work more effectively together."
She added: "I hope I can bring to New Writing North something of my years of publishing experience and international contacts, and am very keen to learn more about the arts scene outside London."
Among the other new trustees, Parker oversees Schools North East, the UK’s only regional schools network for all 1,150 schools in the North East of England. A former national journalist and business editor, he is an external affairs specialist who has devoted much of his working career to campaigning across education, business, housing and social care sectors.
Stone is a co-founder and former managing editor of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine, a contributing editor at the Rialto and is currently a pamphlet selector for the Poetry Book Society. She spent 12 years working in the literary department at Live Theatre in Newcastle before going freelance in 2017. She now works with Eclipse Theatre.
Chair of the board David Roche said: "I am delighted that Mike Parker, Degna Stone and Clare Alexander have agreed to join the New Writing North Board as Trustees. Mike brings extensive experience in senior roles across the private, public and voluntary sectors, and now has a fantastic overview across the education sector in the North East. Degna is a poet and a previous Northern Writers’ Awards winner who is passionate about helping diverse writers in the region find a platform for their voices. Clare's record in the UK publishing industry is unparalleled across both editorial and literary agenting, and her commitment to discovering exciting new and diverse authors and building their writing careers will be invaluable to New Writing North."
New Writing North is headed up by chief executive Clair Malcom, who discussed the opportunities for levelling the playing field for writers across the UK in a Bookseller blog in September.
The announcement follows The Bookseller's survey into class which revealed that almost 80% of those reporting from working class backgrounds felt their background had adversely affected their career in the trade.
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