Duffy, Straus and Basford recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

Duffy, Straus and Basford recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

London-born writer and theatre-maker Stella Duffy and colouring-book author Johanna Basford have received OBEs and Peter Straus, managing director at Rogers, Coleridge and White, has been honoured with a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. ​

Duffy, who was raised in New Zealand before returning to the UK, is the author of 14 novels, including The Room of Lost Things and State of Happiness, which were both longlisted for the Orange Prize, as well as over 50 short stories and 10 plays. Her latest novel, London Lies Beneath, is due to be published with Virago in November 2016.

Duffy has also been active in the ongoing campaign against Lambeth Council’s closure of local libraries, writing an open letter in April backing the Carnegie Library occupiers, which gained signatures from David Mitchell, Ali Smith, Cathy Cassidy, Nick Hornby and David Nicholls, among other authors.

Duffy is also the founder and co-director of Fun Palaces, a locally-led campaign promoting greater access to arts and sciences, and also a founding member of the Women’s Equality Party.

After receiving her OBE, Duffy said she hoped that the "unexpected honour" would help to "push open some doors" and encourage more people to become involved in creative arts.

“I have worked in theatre and as a writer for more than thirty years, always with the hope that our work in the arts can be of value to all and make a difference," she said. "For example, Fun Palaces was born of my mounting frustration at the continued lip service paid to full cultural engagement – an engagement where everyone is truly welcome to participate, as creators, not just audiences. I hope that this unexpected honour will help us push open some doors, have vital conversations, make the difference we need. The change we believe in, the empowered and active citizens who are Joan Littlewood’s 'everyone an artist and everyone a scientist', is needed now more than ever before”. 

A prominent supporter of Stonewall, Duffy has also been named Stonewall Writer of the Year twice for her work, and is a Patron of Diversity Role Models which works to end bullying of LGBTQ young people.

Duffy's editor, Antonia Hodgson, editor-in-chief at Hodder & Stoughton, said: "Stella Duffy is both a brilliant artist and a generous, tireless supporter of the arts - for all. I’m so glad she is being honoured and celebrated for all her exceptional work. Everyone at Virago is thrilled for her."

Basford, a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee who was also awarded an OBE, for services to Art and Entrepreneurship, has sold millions of her bestselling adult colouring books, Lost Ocean (Virgin Books), Secret Garden (Laurence King) and Enchanted Forest (Laurence King), in over 30 territories. 

The illustrator revealed that she had called Buckingham Palace, after receiving the letter informing her she would be receiving an OBE, "to check if they had made a mistake".

Basford said: "If I’m honest, I don’t feel I deserve praise for simply being lucky enough to do work that I love, but I’m hugely grateful to have been selected for an OBE and will receive it humbly and on behalf of our amazing, worldwide colouring community.

"It’s an incredible honour and something that I think acknowledges more about the colouring community than it does any one individual within it – we’re part of a global movement that is making people healthier, happier and more creative."

Basford's editor Elen Jones at Virgin Books, a division of PRH, set to publish two new "inky imagined worlds" by Basford in 2016 - Magical Jungle and Johanna's Christmas - added: "We are incredibly proud of Johanna and offer our huge congratulations on what is a highly deserved honour."

Straus, who was recognised for his services to literature, worked at Hodder & Stoughton, Hamish Hamilton and Macmillan, before joining RCW in 2002. During his time as editor in chief at Macmillan he worked with authors including Don De Lillo, Helen Fielding, Cormac McCarthy, V.S.Naipaul, and Michael Ondaatje, and his client list boasts authors among which are Kate Atkinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Rachel Johnson, Kate Long, Alexander Masters, Don Paterson, Jenny Pitman, Adam Thirlwell, Rupert Thomson and Colm Toibin.

Ann Rennie, library services manager for London Borough of Havering and the London Library Consortium, was also honoured.

The list this year on the Queen's 90th birthday honoured 1,149 people for their services to the country and also recognised Sir Rod Stewart, who was made a knight, and astronaut Tim Peake, who published a picture book with Penguin Random House in April, Goodnight Spaceman, that was inspired by Peake’s mission to the International Space Station last year. Other notable recipients included “Forces Sweetheart” Dame Vera Lynn, Loose Women TV-star and journalist Janet Street Porter, actor Brian Blessed, footballer Alan Shearer and Newcastle double act “Ant and Dec”, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.