Hachette Children’s Group (HCG) executive publisher Anne McNeil is to retire after 20 years at Hodder Children's Books, and nearly four decades in publishing.
McNeil's career in the industry, which spans 37 years, began at Sparrow Children’s Books, after which she moved to Hutchinson Children’s Books and then The Bodley Head, where she became the imprint’s children’s publishing director under the Random House umbrella. She edited Shirley Hughes’ Alfie and Annie Rose books, and Mairi Hedderwick’s Katie Morag titles. She also guided the careers of authors including Susan Cooper and Pat Hutchins, and published Rosemary Sutcliffe’s final novel.
McNeil joined Hodder Children’s Books as publishing director in 2001, building a list with both homegrown authors and illustrators, in addition to international brands such as the Enid Blyton Estate and The Vampire Diaries.
She has overseen the development of current UK Waterstones children’s laureate Cressida Cowell, as well as David Almond, Kes Gray and poet John Agard, who has been on her list for 30 years. She has also continued to commission and edit, acquiring author and musician Akala for his first children’s book The Dark Lady; Eoin Colfer for his graphic novel Illegal, and a group of debut novels including Michael Mann’s Ghostcloud, which publishes this autumn.
Hilary Murray Hill, HCG c.e.o., said of McNeil's career: “Anne’s achievements are numerous, and extraordinary: she’s been a powerhouse list-builder, a brilliant advocate, and a gifted editor; I admire her very much. She’s also been a supportive, fun colleague. I’d like to thank Anne for her incredible service to Hachette, and to the whole children’s book industry for close to 40 years, and wish her every possible happiness in her new life outside publishing. I know I speak for everyone when I say that Anne’s knowledge of children’s books, her passion for writing and illustration, as well as her kindness and huge joie de vivre, will be very greatly missed.”
McNeil said: “I have had the most exciting job in the world. Bringing characters and stories to life, from first ideas to finished book, to schools, libraries and homes, sometimes to stage, TV and film... my job has been hugely fulfilling, creative, demanding and utterly absorbing. I have been privileged to work in a vitally important industry with immensely committed and inventive people, including authors, illustrators and publishing colleagues. Together we have made books that have reached children the world over. It’s been a career that has given me joy and purpose. After a year in lockdown and nearly four decades, however, I have decided it is time to make a change, step outside and see what the rest of my life has in store. I leave my authors in the best possible hands with Hilary and the enormously talented team at HCG. They deserve every success.”
McNeil’s last day at HCG will be Friday 14th May. Thereafter, her authors and illustrators will be edited and published by senior trade publisher Ruth Alltimes and her fiction team.