David Shelley is to take over as c.e.o. of Little, Brown in July, with current c.e.o. Ursula Mackenzie working on “special projects” for the publisher and its parent company Hachette UK until her retirement at the end of 2016.
Shelley, hitherto Little, Brown publisher, has now been appointed deputy c.e.o. of Little, Brown, reporting to Mackenzie, and he will take over the c.e.o. role on 1st July. The 38-year-old joined the Hachette UK main board on 1st January.
Mackenzie, who will be 65 in the year of her retirement, will become chairman of Little, Brown on 1st July.
She said: “I have always hoped to be able to hand over a happy and successful company in a smooth transition to a carefully chosen successor, so this is an ideal arrangement as far as I’m concerned. David and I have worked closely together for many years and I am certain he is the best possible person to lead Little, Brown into an even more exciting future. I am looking forward to the next couple of years too as I am confident I can make a positive contribution both to Little, Brown and Hachette – and if David’s initial list of suggestions is anything to go by, I will certainly be kept very busy.”
Tim Hely Hutchinson, c.e.o. of Hachette UK, said: “David and Ursula are a formidable partnership; they have worked closely together since David became first deputy publisher in 2009, and then publisher in 2011, creating and delivering Little, Brown’s hugely successful strategy which has led to it being named Publisher of the Year for the third time in 2010 and for the fourth time in 2014.
“I am delighted that, for the next six months, the partnership will continue while Ursula hands over to David and thereafter Ursula will work alongside David on specific projects for Little, Brown and with me on projects for Hachette UK.”
Mackenzie joined Little, Brown in 2000 as publisher, after 15 years at Transworld. She was made c.e.o. of Little, Brown in 2006. She is also on the Publishers Association council and served as president of the group in 2012.
Hely Hutchinson said: “Ursula is a remarkable chief executive and publisher. Her vision and drive have ensured that Little, Brown has become the internationally admired and hugely successful publishing house it is today.
“Ursula embodies the passion, verve and commitment with which Little, Brown publishes its books and while there will be other opportunities to thank her and to pay a much fuller tribute to her achievements, today I wish to acknowledge the enormous contribution she makes to Little, Brown, to Hachette and through her past role as president of the Publishers Association and on the Council of the PA, to the wider industry.”
Shelley joined Little, Brown as editorial director in 2005, after five years running the independent publisher Allison and Busby.
He became Sphere publisher in 2007, then Little, Brown deputy publisher in 2009, and publisher in 2011. Shelley was also responsible for bringing J K Rowling's Robert Galbraith novels to Little, Brown.
Hely-Hutchinson said: “David is an outstanding publisher. It is just under 10 years since he joined Little, Brown as editorial director and in that time he has built an exceptional list, working with many of the greatest and most celebrated authors writing today including Mitch Albom, Mark Billingham, Carl Hiaasen, Dennis Lehane, Val McDermid and J K Rowling. Shelley also published both Robert Galbraith novels, the first before it was revealed that the author was actually J K Rowling writing under a pseudonym.
“He has nurtured the careers of some of the brightest publishing talent in the Hachette group, ensuring, with Ursula, that not only is Little, Brown a byword for great publishing and great publishing talent, but it is also a very happy place to work and to be published. Ursula and I have long felt that David was her natural successor and I look forward to working with him as he develops the company that Ursula has led so brilliantly for the last nine years.”
Shelley said: “I have learnt so much from Ursula over the past 10 years and could not have hoped for a wiser or more empowering boss. I feel extremely privileged to be taking up the reins from her, and am immensely excited at the prospect of leading Little, Brown into the future. I am passionate about the company – the authors we publish, the team here, the relationships we have with agents and with booksellers – and so this is my dream job.”
Mackenzie's departure will see a further depletion of senior women leaders in the industry, following the departure of Victoria Barnsley from HarperCollins UK last autumn after 13 years, succeeded by Charlie Redmayne, and Tom Weldon's appointment to c.e.o. of Penguin Random House in 2013, with Gail Rebuck moving to a chairman position.
There remain four female publishing divisional managers at Hachette UK: Octopus Publishing Group c.e.o. Alison Goff, Hodder Education m.d. Lis Tribe, Headline m.d. Jane Morpeth, and Hachette Children’s c.e.o. Hilary Murray Hill.