Penguin Press publishing director Stuart Proffitt has won the London Library Life in Literature Award for his contribution to publishing, with the judges deeming him "the pre-eminent editor of non-fiction working in the UK today."
The £10,000 prize is given each year by the London Library, sponsored by Christie's, following on from a prize created by the Heywood Hill bookshop. The recipient can come from any field of literature, and has previously been awarded to figures such as Philip Mansel and Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Proffitt began his publishing career at Collins in 1983, leaving in 1998 to become publishing director at Penguin Press, a role he has held ever since. His authors have included Frank Kermode, Henry Kissinger, Simon Schama and Margaret Thatcher. As well as publishing, he also co-founded the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.
He said: "I accompanied the first two winners of this prize, Patrick O'Brian and Penelope Fitzgerald, when it was awarded to them in 1995 and 1996; I joined the London Library 30 years ago, soon after I left university; the first ever play I saw in London was Tom Stoppard's Jumpers. So to receive this Prize, in the Library, from Tom's hand and by the generosity of Christie's, is as moving for me as it is unexpected."
Proffitt was selected as the winner by a panel including Pushkin Press publisher Adam Freudenheim, authors Artemis Cooper and Philip Hensher, journalist Fiammetta Rocco and Christie's c.e.o. Stephen P Murphy. The decision was ratified by London Library president Tom Stoppard.
Freudenheim said: "All the judges agreed that Stuart Proffitt is without a doubt the pre-eminent editor of non-fiction working in the UK today and has been for the last 20 years or more, so it's long overdue that Stuart's role is publicly recognised with The London Library Life in Literature Award. Editors usually – and appropriately – remain behind the scenes, but few have been as important to the nation's cultural life and dialogue over such a long period as Stuart has, as his many authors can well attest."