"It's a little bit like marrying myself," commented publisher Ursula Doyle [pictured] at the launch party for her new imprint, Fleet, at the Horse Hospital arts venue in The Colonnade, Bloomsbury, last night (Wednesday 11th May).
Agents including Clare Alexander, Lucy Luck, James Gill and David Miller joined Fleet launch authors Virginia Baily (Early One Morning), Katherine Wilson (Only in Naples), Tracey Thorn (Naked at the Royal Albert Hall), Amanda Coe (Getting Colder and What They Do in the Dark), Rachel Cooke (Her Brilliant Career), Anthony Quinn (Freya) and Katie Ward (Girl Reading), to celebrate the birth of the Little, Brown standalone literary imprint.
Little, Brown m.d. Charlie King said: "An imprint is a mark of quality and taste, and a platform for brilliant authors and editors, and Ursula will be buying books without any criteria except that they are books Ursula is passionate about; that's what Fleet stands for, the freedom to acquire."
Doyle said that the "nerve-racking" process of launching a new imprint had got off to the best possible start with the inclusion of Baily's Early One Morning in the Waterstones spring book club, and her raft of thanks to authors and colleagues included a nod to designer Nico Taylor, responsible for Fleet's well-received hare colophon. Doyle revealed that the creature is named "Alice" after the "boon companion of my childhood" - in fact a pet rabbit, said to have survived on a diet of chocolate buttons.
The launch of Fleet, which will publish six to eight originals a year in hardback, paperback and e-book, comes amid a surge of new imprint launches in 2016, including Orion's Trapeze, Quercus' riverrun, Harlequin's HQ and Alex Clarke's as yet unnamed new imprint at Headline.