Mundy to be Samuel Johnson prize director

Mundy to be Samuel Johnson prize director

Toby Mundy, the founder and former c.e.o. of Atlantic Books, is to become the first director of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction. Meanwhile submission deadlines for publishers will change to “accommodate the timelines and deadlines of the publishing calendar”.

In his new role Mundy, who is also founder of the TMA Limited agency and consultancy, will act as a year-round spokesman for the prize, and will help to expand its “reputation, profile and reach among writers, publishers, booksellers, literary agents, the media and the public”.

This year will also see changes to the dates for submission, which previously followed the calendar year. For the 2015 prize, books published between 1st November 2014 and 31st November 2015 will be eligible.

Mundy said: "The new dates for eligibility in 2015 align more closely with the production schedules and important publication dates of the publishing calendar. With this new timeframe, all books should be available in a format that the judges can consider by the prize submissions deadline in the summer."

In addition to Mundy’s new role, which he takes on with immediate effect, and the date changes, the prize also announced that this year’s winner announcement and dinner in November will be supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, whose principal is the US philanthropist Len Blavatnik, and that FT Weekend editor Caroline Daniel has joined the prize steering committee.   

Stuart Proffitt, chair of the prize steering committee, said: “In recent years the Samuel Johnson Prize has gone from strength to strength and with these changes we can build on its success. Toby’s appointment is one of a number of important changes we are making to carry the prize forward.”

Mundy said: “The Samuel Johnson Prize is the pre-eminent award for general non-fiction in the UK and, increasingly, around the English-speaking world, and I am honoured to be its first executive director.

“Now in its 17th year, the Samuel Johnson Prize celebrates knowledge and ideas, aspiration and storytelling to express the important idea that non-fiction expands our understanding of the world, a mission that seems more important than ever.

“Non-fiction books are the only medium humans have for creating thick descriptions of the world. The best non-fiction is not a parade of facts, it provides the reader with an extraordinary and enriching experience.

“Yet the eco-system that supports quality non-fiction is under pressure as book prices fail to keep pace with inflation, author earnings fall and publishers worry increasingly about the up-front cost of making quality non-fiction books. These books need the on-going support of media, booksellers, publishers, and of the Samuel Johnson Prize if they are to continue to flourish.”

The 2014 prize was won by Helen Macdonald’s grief memoir H is for Hawk (Jonathan Cape).

Submissions for this year’s prize will open in spring 2015 when the 2015 judges will also be announced.