Icon founder Peter Pugh dies, aged 76

Icon founder Peter Pugh dies, aged 76

Tributes have been paid to Icon Books’ founder-chairman Peter Pugh, who has died, aged 76. 

“It is with the deepest regret that we have to announce that Icon Books’ founder-chairman, Peter Pugh, died peacefully on Sunday (24th February), aged 76,” the publisher said. “Our thoughts go out to Peter’s wife, Felicity, and their children and grandchildren.”

Pugh founded Icon Books, a member of the Independent Alliance, in 1992, starting with just four titles in the Beginners series, which is now known as the Introducing series with around 90 titles.'The non-fiction publisher now features titles across popular science, history, psychology and current affairs. Recent bestsellers include The Etymologicon and The Billion Dollar Spy.

Icon m.d., Philip Cotterell, said: "Peter was immensely proud of what Icon had achieved and we will honour his legacy by continuing to build on his creation."

Paul Donovan, former executive director of Allen & Unwin in Australia, also paid tribute to Pugh's "big-hearted" nature while hospitality expert Mark Fagan said Pugh "Enriched the lives of all those who knew him". Fagan tweeted: "Sad to lose my friend and colleague, Peter Pugh. He was such a good sport, and enormous fun to work with. A true gentleman in every sense. As an author, he wrote excellent company histories including hotels."

Cotterell told The Bookseller how he was struck by Pugh, on their meeting around a decade ago. “I was immediately drawn to Peter when I met him," he said. "I was so taken in by him and Icon Books. After two years of consulting for him, he said would you like to run it and I took 45 seconds to reply, saying ‘I’ll give it a go’. That was almost eight years ago and I hope it has continued to improve in that time.”

He added: “If there was one word which encompasses everything that Peter was, it is ‘generous’. He would send copious amounts of salmon and the amount of salmon he would send to clients every Christmas was probably enough to sustain the Scottish fishing industry.

“Peter was like something from the 1950s but was also so switched on. He was very hands on and would come into the office regularly so was involved in the day-to-day running and this was reflected in the enthusiasm the staff had for him. He was active until the very end.

“He was the quintessential gentleman and absolutely charming, an absolute one-off. I don’t think we’ll see his kind again.”

Pugh’s son, Alex, will take over immediately as chairman while Felicity will be appointed his alternate director.