Pushkin Press celebrated its 20th anniversary last night (2nd February) at the London Library, a “particularly appropriate” venue, according to managing director Adam Freundenheim.
In a speech given to attendees, which included Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page and Fourth Estate and William Collins' executive publisher David Roth-Ey, Freundenheim said the company had been "very busy" over the last five years (pictured below).
"Pushkin started in 1997 and I joined five years ago [in 2012]. We’ve done a lot in these last five years, we started several imprints – Pushkin’s Children’s books, Pushkin Vertigo, ONE. We’ve been kind of busy, and a lot of you have a lot to do with that… I can’t possibly name everyone who’s contributed to Pushkin over the last 20 years or even over the last five years, but I want to thank all of you."
Speaking to The Bookseller, Freundenheim discussed his excitement about celebrating the anniversary and his plans to keep doing “more of the same” going forward.
“It’s obviously very exciting to celebrate a 20th anniversary, even if I’ve only been a long for five years of that ride. When I joined, Pushkin was publishing six to eight books a year and this year we’re going to publish more than 50 books. So, I feel like we’ve come a long way. And it’s very exciting this evening to have so many people around celebrating.
“What I feel excited about is I hope that we’re doing some of the stuff we’ve always been doing and doing a lot more of it. And we’ve also branched out into other areas like children’s books, and it all relates to the core thing that we’re about, which is bringing great books from all over the world to the UK. They’re mostly in translation but not exclusively and I hope that’s something we’ll continue doing for the next 20 years.”
In his speech, Freundenheim also spoke of Pushkin's star author Stefan Zweig and his connection to the London Library.
“The location is particularly appropriate for a couple of reasons: last year we published a wonderful series of books with the Library called 'Found on the Shelves’, which was a series of books about pamphlets that were discovered at the library. And another thing that I didn’t even realise until will were planning the party, is that Stefan Zweig who was one of the very first authors that Pushkin published 20 years ago, was in fact, a member of the library. The library has a little display case at the back, which has the joining form he wrote and signed himself in 1936, and there’s also a letter from 1938 when Zweig donated nearly a hundred books to the library."
He continued: "So Zweig has been important to Pushkin Press and we’ve published more books by Zweig than any other English language publisher and any other author of ours – we have over 30 books of his in print – so we were publishing Zweig in 1997 and we have more in 2017, which is also the 75th anniversary of his death tragically in 1942. He seems a particularly important writer this time last year, we published a wonderful book of his for the first time in English, a translation called Messages from a Lost World: Europe on the Brink, which I think the title probably says it all. It’s incredibly prescient and I think everything that Zweig wrote was very prescient. Zweig started out Pushkin and I think he will be someone we will stay with for a long time to come.”
Actor and director Simon McBurney gave a reading from Zweig’s classic novel Beware of Pity. McBurney is directing a stage play of Beware of Pity at the Barbican 9th to 12th February. Last year McBurney also directed a hugely successful stage version of The Encounter by Petru Popescu, which was republished by Pushkin to coincide with the production.