Alice Curry, founder and publisher of Lantana Press, has been awarded the 2017 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for being a "great role model for future generations starting out in publishing".
The prize recognises the professional achievements and promise of women who have worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years.
With a background in academia, lecturing in children’s literature, Curry set out to publish picture books with a greater equality of representation and to help facilitate a more global understanding of childhood when she set up Lantana Press as an independent house in 2014.
Since founding the company, Lantana has published seven picture books with five more in the pipeline, six of which have been translated into foreign languages. Curry is also a regular keynote speaker on the subject of the need for diversity in children’s books at conferences around the world.
Co-judges Catherine Clarke and Denise Johnstone-Burt, said: “The need for greater diversity was a common theme in this year’s submissions and we were very struck by the entrepreneurial spirit that animated our shortlist. Choosing a winner was a close run decision. Alice Curry stood out, for her radical switch from academia to starting up a publishing business that puts her passion and knowledge to practical use in a highly focused way. We applaud her success and have no doubt she will achieve much more in the years ahead.”
Curry received a £1,000 prize, sponsored by the SYP, and a two-day training course of her choice at the PTC. Ahead of her win, she said: “Running a small independent publishing house in today’s retail climate is not an easy task, and particularly a publishing house with an underlying social purpose. I would very much value the opportunity to undertake a two-day training course at the PTC since I have, in many ways, had to learn the business from the bottom-up and would greatly value some formal training.”
Judges said Curry was chosen as the winner from an "impressive" shortlist which comprised Sarah Braybrooke, managing director at Scribe UK; Candice Carty-Williams, senior marketing executive at Vintage Books and founder of the 4th Estate and Guardian BAME Short Story Prize; Amy Durant, former publishing director at Endeavour Press; and co-publisher of Daunt Books Zeljka Marosevic. The four shortlisted candidates receive a one-day training course courtesy of the PTC and a £25 book token courtesy of National Book Tokens.
Founded in 2003, the prize honours the life and career of Kim Scott Walwyn, who was publishing director at Oxford University Press and who died in 2002 at the age of 45. It is run in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and the Publishing Training Centre (PTC).
The judging panel comprised biographer and president of Wolfson College Oxford, professor Dame Hermione Lee CBE; 2016 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize winner Rebecca Lewis-Oakes; 2016 chair of the Society of Young Publishers Zara Markland; and Peter McKay, chief executive of the Publishing Training centre. The panel was co-chaired by Catherine Clarke, agent and m.d. of Felicity Bryan Associates, and Denise Johnstone-Burt, publisher at Walker Books.
Previous winners of the prize include Rebecca Lewis-Oakes, managing editor for fiction at Egmont; Anne Perry, founder of The Kitschies and editorial director of fiction at Simon & Schuster; Miriam Robinson, programme director for The Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity Conference and associate director at The Literary Platform.
The prize ceremony saw author Mary Beard give a keynote speech on women in the modern and ancient world, at Carmelite House, London.