Four hundred years of publishing history was toasted last night at the combined John Murray 250th and Hodder & Stoughton 150th anniversary party.
Over 500 people attended the event at London’s Guildhall, a venue that Hodder, Headline, John Murray and Quercus c.e.o. Jamie Hodder-Williams noted in his funny and warm speech was just a stone’s throw away from where the two firms were founded in 1768 and 1868.
Hodder-Williams began his speech noting that “you don’t have to be a Hodder to work here, but it helps” and saluted the many people who contributed to the firms’ success, including the Murray family.
He said: “For almost 250 years everyone who ran John Murray was named John Murray, which is impressive branding”. He also singled out former Hachette c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson, who merged Headline with Hodder in 1993 and brought John Murray into the Hachette fold in 2002.
Tim Hely Hutchinson and David Shelley
Hodder-Williams hailed agents, current staffers, particularly John Murray Press m.d. Nick Davies and the “inspirational” Hodder m.d. Carolyn Mays, but particularly praised the companies’ authors “without who we are nothing. Thank you for the books you’ve written—and the books you are going to write.”
Hodder-Williams also recounted a trip he and Mays took to the Hodder archives which unearthed “many fascinating things but also a lot of letters from agents complaining about royalties and authors apologising for getting too drunk at parties. Nothing changes.”
Hannah Black and Graham Norton
The event served as the unofficial launch of former BBC Radio 4 presenter Edward Stourton’s The Publishing Game, a history of Hodder which is to be released in July.
Among the authors in attendance were David Nicholls, Erin Kelly, Graham Norton, Mike Gayle, Mick Herron and James Bowen and his streetcat, Bob.