Former deputy publishing director at Chatto & Windus Penelope Hoare has died aged 77, after receiving treatment for cancer.
Hoare had a career spanning 50 years in publishing and authors and figures from the trade have paid tribute to her as “highly intelligent”, “unduly modest”, “kind and loyal” and a “warm, funny human being”.
Tom Weldon, c.e.o of Penguin Random House UK, said: “She was highly intelligent and a brilliant editor; unduly modest; deeply kind and loyal; with a marvellous sense of humour, quick to spot the occasional absurdities of publishing and life in general; and with one of the most infectious smiles I have ever come across. She was much loved and will be sorely missed.”
After beginning her career in journalism, Hoare moved to Macdonald as editor (1969-1980) before progressing to Hamish Hamilton as editorial director (1980-1989) and Sinclair-Stevenson (1989-1992), continuing as senior editorial director at Reed General Books (1992-1997), where she rose to publisher at Sinclair-Stevenson. Hoare joined Chatto & Windus in 1997 when the Sinclair-Stevenson imprint was subsumed into Random House as part of the acquisition of Reed and edited authors such as Rose Tremain, Peter Ackroyd, Jane Gardam and many others, winning the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize in 2005 and named British Book Awards Editor of the Year in 2007. After leaving Chatto & Windus as deputy publishing director in 2009 she continued to work there as a freelance editor.
Clara Farmer, publishing director, Chatto & Windus, said Hoare was a “magnificent” woman and employees at the publisher would be “bereft” without her.
“Generous to her colleagues, and constantly encouraging to her authors – although stern to both when she needed to be – she had great integrity, and sense of purpose," she said. "Penny was also a terrific source of advice and gossip, always delivered with her wonderfully dry and pithy wit. We were stunned at the stamina she displayed during repeated bouts of cancer treatment, brushing off any enquiries about her health. She was last at her desk at Vauxhall Bridge Road just a few weeks ago and we were talking excitedly about a new manuscript that she would be editing. We are all bereft without her.”
Authors Rose Tremain, Richard Mabey, Neel Mukherjee and Patrick Gale are among those who paid tribute to her.
Tremain said: “Penny Hoare has been my editor and my dear friend for forty-one years. To her I owe the publication of my first novel, Sadler’s Birthday, after its rejection by six other publishers… I will miss Penny more than I can possibly say; her patience, her erudition, her humour, her affection, and her extraordinary stoicism, which enabled her to fight on through the terrible maladies of the last two years.”
Mukherjee said: “She was the perfect reader, seeing through to the soul of any book or manuscript, working with, not against, its spirit to make it a far better thing than the author could have ever imagined. She lived and breathed this; it was a vocation, not just a job. I'm going to miss her more than I can ever say.”
Meanwhile Gale said Hoare was “one of a dwindling breed and irreplaceable”.
Hoare’s funeral will take place on Friday 19th May at St Augustine's Church, East Hendred, Oxfordshire. A memorial service in London is planned for the autumn, with more details to come.