Charlie Redmayne paid tribute to the veterans of the publishing industry who had passed away in the “brutal” last year, at the HarperCollins summer party on Wednesday night (5th July).
More than 1,000 people gathered at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for the event, including authors David Walliams, Jeremy Paxman and David Baddiel, as well as members of pop band Blue such as Duncan James and Lee Ryan.
HarperCollins c.e.o. Redmayne addressed the crowds in the courtyard of the 19th century museum to celebrate the publisher’s “terrific year”, whilst also recognising the many names the industry has lost.
“This is an incredibly special night at HarperCollins and marks a terrific year," Redmayne said. "The authors make this party, it is made for you and frankly the rest of us bask in the reflected glory – I know it sounds a little like my job but we do bask in your reflected glory."
David Baddiel, Judith Kerr and David Walliams
He paid tribute to the “ever sprightly and frankly ravishing Judith Kerr”, now aged 94, who HarperCollins first published in 1968 with The Tiger Who Came to Tea when Redmayne was “only two”. Across all editions the title has sold 1.24 million copies amassing £6.41m according to Nielsen BookScan.
Redmayne said: “The other person I wanted to mention was someone who showed enormous loyalty to this company for many years and a great friend of mine… the simply fabulous Barbara Taylor Bradford. Her next title will her 32nd book.” It was revealed in March that the author had signed deal for a four-book historical fiction series with the publisher.
He also paid tribute to Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond who passed away last week aged 91. Redmayne said: “I was going to recognise another great, great writer who has graced this party for many, many years and that was the extraordinary Michael Bond who we first published in 1958 with a Bear Called Paddington. Michael was an absolute gentleman, he was a truly wonderful writer and a stalwart of this party for many years. I am very, very sorry that he is not here but I am glad that his wife Sue and his daughter Karen are.”
He said: "The last 12 months have been really brutal for our industry in terms of losing friends. Too many wonderful authors, great agents such as Gillon Aitken and others but I did want to mention three people who loved this party particularly who were here last year and will be very sadly missed.”
Charlie Redmayne giving a speech
The c.e.o. paid tribute to his “great friend” David Miller, Carole Blake, who was “bloody good fun as anyone who experienced ‘those lunches’ will testify”, and Ed Victor, “arguably the greatest agent of his time”. He also revealed that Victor drove such a hard bargain that he only once made profit from a book Victor sold him. He added: “Heaven will be a far, far better place for their company.”
HarperCollins’ president and c.e.o, Brian Murray (pictured talking below), said the party provided an opportunity to look back at the publisher’s history and the “amazing milestone” of the 200th anniversary. He said: “I wanted to celebrate the 200 years of HarperCollins. Some of you might know that Harper goes back in New York City to 1817 and of course you know that William Collins and Sons goes back to Glasgow in 1819 so at HarperCollins we decided to celebrate two centuries of two great publishing houses that joined together to form one of the greatest publishing houses in the world."
He added: “As we look back and embrace our history we can also look to the future with confidence…We are one resilient group to last 200 years.”