HarperCollins UK c.e.o. Charlie Redmayne celebrated Judith Kerr and paid tribute to Bob Bradford at the publisher's annual summer party last night (3rd July). He also spoke of his commitment to publishing "books that explore a range of ideas and thought" and to investing in literacy projects across the country.
Authors Tracy Chevalier, David Walliams and Nigel Slater were among the 900 guests in the blazing courtyard of the Victoria & Albert Museum for HarperCollins’ summer bash.
In his speech, Redmayne celebrated many of the company’s authors including Kerr, who was a regular fixture at HarperCollins’ parties right up until her death aged 95 last month, and was pictured talking with actor Eddie Redmayne (Charlie's half-brother) at the party last year. Kerr's daughter Tacy Kneale attended this year's event.
Redmayne also paid tribute to Bob Bradford, the husband of novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford, who has died aged 92, and lauded those authors who had contributed to HarperCollins' strong year in 2018. Redmayne said: "Sadly we weren’t able to follow up our Publisher of the Year win of last year, even though we had the number one bestselling book of 2018 with Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant, and . . . we also had the second bestselling book of 2018 with David Walliam’s The Ice Monster….as you can see I’m not competitive or bitter, and we should congratulate Penguin General, it must have been a wonderful surprise for them!"
Redmayne also made reference to the wider health of the business and importance of publishing across a spectrum of views. "Publishing is in fact in rude health—and it needs to be—as it makes a huge contribution not just to the economy, but also to education, to ideas, to debate and to freedom of speech. At a time when seemingly we are entering an illiberal phase, where there are those who would wish to shut down voices that they disagree with, it is vital for our cultural and societal wellbeing that publishers and booksellers continue to make available books that explore a range of ideas and thought. There are many reasons I may not publish a book but the fact that I or indeed anyone else might happen not to agree with it will never be one of them."
HarperCollins authors in attendance included David Baddiel, Lauren Child, Honeyman, Andrea Corr, Adele Parks, along with Michael and Clare Morpurgo as well as Philippa Gregory in a vintage Christian Dior hat. Guests were treated to an added perk this year with exclusive access to the museum’s sold-out Christian Dior exhibition.
Publishing trade figures including Booksellers Association m.d. Meryl Halls and executive chair Tim Godfrey, Society of Authors c.e.o. Nicola Solomon, as well as Curtis Brown agent Jonny Geller and various winners of the HarperCollins Literacy Project independent bookshop grant also attended.
Redmayne added: "As publishing reaches out to a broader audience we remain focused on literacy. I have been delighted that this year we have been working, and funding projects, in Stoke and in Glasgow. This year alone 100 HC Volunteers have supported programs in both cities and we have donated more than 10,000 books to schools, preschools, nurseries, university libraries and hospitals in those areas—and with our partners at the Sun in Scotland we have donated £1m of books to Primary Schools across Scotland. This commitment is something we intend to grow in the coming years. Investing in literacy is investing in the future of our industry and our country."
It was the publisher’s sixth year of holding its summer party at the 19th century museum.