The 50 most influential people in Literary life
London Evening Standard 9th October 2007
Compiled by Danuta Kean and David Sexton
THE TOP FIVE
Amanda Ross, 44,
CACTUS TV, MD, AND PRODUCER OF RICHARD & JUDY
The woman who chooses the titles that make it into Richard & Judy’s Book Club, pictured right – which accounted for 26 per cent of all books sold last year. She can make a bestseller at whim, whether it deserves it or not, from The Star of the Sea to The Interpretation of Murder. Publishers will do almost anything to get in her good books; Jane Fallon’s Getting Rid of Matthew was rejacketed after Ross complained the old cover was “too wintery” for R&J’s Summer Reads.
Ian McEwan, 59
Having earned a reputation as Ian Macabre in his early career thanks to the creepy short stories in First Love, Last Rites and In Between the Sheets, McEwan has joined the great and the good. He is both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. He is the only one of the glorious Granta 1983 list of Best of Young British Novelists to figure on the shortlists of the big literary awards and bestseller lists in each succeeding decade. His fame is now being further extended by the film of his best book, Atonement.
Gail Rebuck, 57
RANDOM HOUSE, CHAIRWOMAN AND CEO
The best-connected person in publishing. Imprints include Jonathan Cape and Chatto & Windus. Her authors range from Salman Rushdie and Dan Brown to Alastair Campbell, whose diaries she published this summer and with whom she and husband Philip Gould holiday. Nicknamed The Terminator, she signed a publishing contract in the delivery room of St Mary’s hospital, just after the birth of her second child. It’s rumoured she has also signed up the Blair memoirs.
Tim Hely Hutchinson, 53
HACHETTE LIVRE UK, CEO
Son of the eighth Earl of Donoughmore and educated at Eton and Oxford, Hely Hutchinson created Headline 20 years ago, initially publishing airport thrillers, before taking over the long-established Hodder and John Murray. In 2006, the French mega-firm Hachette bought Time Warner to become the largest publishing group in the UK and appointed Hely Hutchinson to run the show. The most powerful publishing CEO in the country.
JK Rowling, 43
Harry Potter may be over but Rowling’s overwhelming influence on children’s literature will continue, thanks to the film franchise and a theme park, and publishers trying desperately to find her successor in fantasy fiction. All eyes will be on Rowling to see what happens next in her career – but most in the books business will be hoping it doesn’t hog the limelight. Her sales records and riches seem unlikely ever to be rivalled by another author. She will be a billionaire before long.
Gaynor Allen, 36
TESCO, BOOK BUYER
Previously at Borders and Selfridges, she is now in the hot seat of British bookselling. She has been a literary prize judge and started a Tesco Book Club. The supermarket’s ability to shift more books than any other retailer makes them as tough with publishers as they are with farmers.
Victoria Barnsley, 53
HARPERCOLLINS, CEO AND PUBLISHER
Founder of the upstart independent Fourth Estate, Barnsley has shown herself to be an adept leader for HarperCollins (which bought Fourth Estate). She is in the vanguard of technological development. Married to Nick Howard of the Castle Howard family.
Stephen Page, 42
Publishing’s pin-up boy, Page is credited with turning round the august, dull Faber after taking the helm in 2001. His savvy marketing sense and commitment to independent publishing in a world of mundane corporates have won him friends and influence. Sceptical about electronic publishing.
Kes Nielsen, 34,
AMAZON.CO.UK, SENIOR BOOK MANAGER
Well liked blokey sort who negotiates the internet giant’s book promotions. Can pressure publishers for better trade terms thanks to the site’s ability to sell books not stocked by high street rivals. His background at Waterstone’s and WH Smith means he knows what those rivals receive in return for prime placing – so he is able to be even more ruthless.
Ed Victor, 68
The nearest thing London publishing has to a Hollywood player. A fixture at the best parties, his clients range from 2005 Man Booker winner John Banville to Nigella Lawson. As tough as he is charming, the Brooklynborn Victor has squeezed some record-breaking advances out of publishers, including about £3m for Eric Clapton’s autobiography.
Bill Scott-Kerr, 43
The affable Scott-Kerr made it when Dan Brown became a global phenomenon with The Da Vinci Code. The only publisher in the world to acquire all Brown’s books, he helped Transworld to a healthy profit after paying Brown less than spectacular advances.
Andrew Franklin, 50
PROFILE BOOKS, MD
The maverick Franklin set up the stylish independent house Profile after leaving Penguin in 1996. Turnover this year was £9m. The biggest success has been Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which sold three million worldwide, but Franklin has also won the loyalty of Alan Bennett. He may now be a millionaire but Franklin insists on turning up to book parties by bike.
Peter Collingridge, 32 and James Bridle, 27
APT STUDIO, FOUNDERS
Apt is responsible for the most innovative new media and film projects in publishing. At a time when promoting books through short films was radical, Collingridge had 2.5m people hitting a film about Life of Pi. Bridle, an expert in artificial intelligence, joined Apt this year and was responsible for London Lit +, the open-source literary festival.
Hannah Black, 32
CENTURY, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Black turned the publishing world upside down last year when comic Peter Kaye trounced more expensive celebrity rivals to the Christmas No1. An anti-misery memoir, Kaye’s The Sound of Laughter set a new standard for celebrity biogs. This year the Century queen published Paul Weller’s annotated lyrics Suburban 100 and next year brings out Dawn French’s much anticipated autobiography.
Jon Wood, 34
ORION, PUBLISHING DIRECTOR
A publishing w¸nderkind with excellent instincts for commercial publishing. He also oversees the Gollancz imprint, which is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the burgeoning interest in horror and science fiction.
Caroline Michel, 48
PETERS, FRASER AND DUNLOP AGENCY, CEO
All change on the agency scene as Michel left William Morris in September and parachuted into PFD. She will have her work cut out as 11 directors threatened to quit before she arrived and could take authors with them. Michel is a pillar of the establishment, numbering Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterson among her circle.
Anthony Cheetham, 64
Smart and with a formidable reputation as a serial entrepreneur, in the past 25 years Mexican-born Cheetham has set up and sold Century, to Random House for £64m, and Orion, to Hachette in 1998 for a sizeable sum. Quercus, founded in 2004, looks like repeating the feat. Littleknown Quercus author Stef Penney took the Costa for The Tenderness of Wolves.
Simon Prosser, 43
HAMISH HAMILTON, PUBLISHING DIRECTOR
Squat, bespectacled Prosser is the kingpin of publishing editors thanks to Zadie Smith, Kiran Desai, Alain de Botton, Jonathan Safran Foer, Helen Dunmore, Dave Eggers and Ali Smith. Hamish Hamilton has become the most exclusive literary salon in London. Last year his authors won all three major literary awards – the Man Booker, the Whitbread and the Orange.
Matthew Bates, 36, and Mike Roberts, 34
WH SMITH TRAVEL, BUYERS.
If ever you have bought a book at a station bookstore, fiction or non-fiction, or in a WH Smith airport shop, these two will have chosen it. They have a reputation for choosing more eclectic and up-market choices than you might expect.
Jamie Oliver, 32
When Penguin’s Tom Weldon teamed up with the Naked Chef in a groundbreaking deal that saw the publisher help create a cookery show for Channel 4, they unleashed a phenomenon that’s still dominating our screens.
Richard Charkin, 58
BLOOMSBURY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The scourge of literary agents has just been poached after what he calls “the best 10 years of my career” at Macmillan. An internet pioneer before most in the trade had used a search engine, he joins Bloomsbury as it prepares itself for the post-Harry Potter years with a brief to expand.
Sarah Waters, 41
Pipped at the post for the Orange and Man Booker more than once but that has not dented her sales, or the popularity of TV adaptations such as Tipping the Velvet. Waters’ great achievement is to have taken lesbian love affairs out of the Queer Studies sections of bookshops.
Jason Cowley, 42
Eyebrows were raised when Cowley was announced as the editor of Granta, in succession to Ian Jack. At The Bookseller in the early 1990s, Cowley ruffled feathers with scoops such as the decision by certain publishers to break the previously sacrosanct Net Book Agreement. His eclectic career has taken him from literary criticism to editing the Observer Sports Monthly. His editorship of Granta promises to be lively.
Peter Straus, 46
ROGERS, COLERIDGE AND WHITE, AGENT
One of the most respected and knowledgeable people in the industry – he claims to know every ISBN prefix by heart and fanatically collects first editions – Straus, formerly head of Picador, has earned authors such as Gautam Malkani substantial advances. Critics feel his emphasis on money has put unrealistic expectations on debut authors.
Mariella Frostrup, 44
RADIO 4, OPEN BOOK PRESENTER
Frostrup fronts the popular Radio 4 books magazine. Extremely well read and articulate, she is a lot more than just a husky-voiced blonde and is said to have the best contact book in Britain – including George Clooney.
Anne Louise Fisher, 61
An unsung publishing hero, Fisher scouts for talented authors who will be of interest to overseas publishers. These rights sales can mean the difference between being published or dropped as even if a book isn’t a commercial success here, the money from abroad can subsidise its publication.
Mary-Kay Wilmers, 69
LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, EDITOR
In a world of soundbites, Wilmers has kept the torch burning for the literary intellectually challenging and, often, very, very long literary essay. She has also made the Arts Councilfunded magazine into a Leftwing cabal. The LRB opened its own bookshop in Bloomsbury in 2003, which swiftly became a place of safety for the lover of fine literature trying to make sense of the “3 for 2″ world.
Carol Tonkinson, 42
HARPERCOLLINS, NON-FICTION PUBLISHER
Philadelphian Tonkinson is head of HarperCollins’ “inspirational publishing” lists – misery memoirs. It’s a £24m market, of which Tonkinson’s titles have 40 per cent, making her one of the top editors in the business.
Clare Alexander, 54
AITKEN ALEXANDER, AGENT
After a distinguished career as a publisher, Alexander became a literary agent. It was a natural move as corporate publishing forces editors to kowtow to the marketing and sales department. She has excelled in the new job, her most notable success being Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time.
Nigel Newton, 51
The gloss may have gone off the Soho-based City darling now that JK Rowling has finished Harry Potter, and the company shares, which have made Newton a rich man, are now worth half what they were. But he is keen to snap up rival publishers – young buck Canongate is a possible target – and big name writers, such as William Boyd.
Sebastian Faulks, 54
Formerly literary editor of the Independent, Faulks wrote several modestly successful novels before hitting the big time with the WW1 saga Birdsong, still selling well to reading groups and wowing the ladies. Charlotte Gray stuck closely to the love and war template, but curly-haired Faulks has now branched out to write a new James Bond novel to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth.
Pat Kavanagh, 65
Respected and feared, her reputation as one of the best literary agents in London did not protect Kavanagh when Andrew “The Jackal” Wylie came after Martin Amis, who promptly dumped her after 22 years, causing a further painful bust-up between him and her husband Julian Barnes. Still, she had plenty of distinguished and successful clients to comfort her, including Andrew Motion, Joanna Trollope and Clive James – who may go with her if she leaves PfD.
Mark Lawson, 45
BROADCASTER AND JOURNALIST
The most-prolific arts journalist in Britain, writing columns for the Guardian, acting as anchor for the influential Front Row arts show on Radio 4 and presenting Newsnight Review. His media reach makes him probably the most influential book critic in broadcasting.
Jonathan Lloyd, 60, and Jonny Geller, 39
CURTIS BROWN, CHAIRMAN AND AGENT
Smooth Lloyd networks tirelessly for his authors, including Jeffrey Archer, and flashy, pugnacious Geller won great deals for Donna Tartt, Hari Kunzru and Jake Arnott. Formerly a struggling actor, he’s an expert at pitching, Hollywood-style.
Sigrid Rausing, 45
The clandestine Swede and Tetra Pak heiress has won the hearts of lovers of literature after she extended her philanthropy to publishing with the acquisition of Granta. She also helped widely respected publisher Philip Gwyn Jones set up Portobello Books, an aspirational independent. See also Social London
Philip Pullman, 60
Crowned a long career as a children’s writer with the spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy, an imaginative epic that married everything from children’s fantasy to quantum physics, all wrapped around an anti-Christian message. The first film in the trilogy, The Golden Compass, is out and expected to do for Pullman what the Potter films did for Rowling.
Toby Mundy, 39
ATLANTIC BOOKS, FOUNDER AND MD
Corporate refugee Mundy founded Atlantic in 2000. Aided by one of the smartest editorial teams in London, Atlantic punches well above its weight. Its books have appeared twice on the Man Booker shortlist and won the Commonwealth, Costa and Orwell Prizes.
Zadie Smith, 31
Spotted young by Simon Prosser of Hamish Hamilton, this north London writer found fame and riches with her debut, White Teeth, although she has said its youthful excesses now make her cringe. After a dodgy second novel, her reputation was sealed when her third, On Beauty, was shortlisted for the Man Booker and swiped the 2006 Orange Prize from Sarah Waters. Takes herself very seriously and has now – with her partner, the poet Nick Laird – moved to Rome to avoid the media circus.
Mark Lucas, 52
LUCAS ALEXANDER WHITELY, AGENT
He has built a reputation for publishing the hard boys of the thriller market, including former SAS soldiers Andy McNab and Chris Hunter. But his real skill is at marrying ghostwriters with the right client to create lucrative media brands.
Ion Trewin, 64
MAN BOOKER PRIZE ADMINISTRATOR
When it was announced that Trewin would succeed Martyn Goff as administrator of the most prestigious prize in British publishing, there was a sigh of relief. Formerly literary editor of the Times, then one of the best-liked and most-respected editors in the industry at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, he has been responsible for some of the biggest-selling books of the past 20 years, notably The Alan Clark Diaries.
Kate Mosse, 46
AUTHOR AND ORANGE BOOK PRIZE FOUNDER
Watching talented women get consistently overlooked by the big literary prizes fired up Mosse to found the Orange Prize for Fiction. She struck pay dirt as a novelist in 2005 with Labyrinth, a medieval-meets-modern saga set in south-west France, which won the Richard & Judy Best Read. All eyes will be on her for the follow-up this autumn, Sepulchre.
Peter Stothard, 56
As editor of The Times, Stothard took its circulation beyond 900,000, the highest in its history. At TLS he has endeavoured to take the magazine beyond the academic world. His own interests are reflected in his essays on classical poetry.
Patrick Neate, 36
AUTHOR AND CLUB PROMOTER
Sick of reading to bookshops full of would-be writers rather than readers, Neate founded Book Slam, a monthly literary night club at Neighbourhood in Notting Hill. It regularly draws crowds of 400 to listen to the eclectic mix of music, performance and book readings, and has spawned copy-cat events overseas and at music festivals. Winner of the 2001 Whitbread Novel Award, Neate is the Pied Piper of literary hipness.
Amelia Granger, 39
WORKING TITLE FILMS, LITERARY DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE
One of the few British film companies capable of delivering a film after snapping up rights in books makes Granger a publisher’s first call. She has been involved in the adaptations of Bridget Jones and Atonement. Forthcoming projects include Joseph O’Connor’s The Star of The Sea and Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong.
Jamie Byng, 38
Has taken Canongate from a tiny Edinburgh independent in 1994 to Booker-winning publisher in less than 10 years. A passionate advocate for his authors, who include Yann Martel and Michel Faber, Byng can make a book sell by sheer enthusiasm. A boho-workaholic (a rare beast), he is the son of the Earl of Strafford and initial investors in Canongate included his stepfather Sir Christopher Bland.
UP AND COMING
Nick Stone, 41
The unassuming son of historian Norman Stone won the prestigious Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for his unconventional thriller Mr Clarinet. Set in Miami and Haiti, it was inspired by the gun his father used to shoot an Alsatian that attacked him as a threeyearold. Penguin published his second novel, King of Swords, in August.
Owen Sheers, 33
POET AND AUTHOR
Born in Fiji, raised in Abergavenny, the pint-sized poet has a reputation for breaking hearts among the Camillas and Sashas of publishing. Faber published his first prose work in 2004, The Dust Diaries, and an acclaimed novel, Resistance, this summer. One of the most exciting talents of his generation.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 30
2007 ORANGE PRIZE WINNER
The Nigerian’s debut novel Purple Hibiscus was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2004 and awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2004. Her latest novel, Half Of A Yellow Sun, was a popular winner at this year’s Orange.
Charlotte Mendelson, 35
AUTHOR AND ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER, HEADLINE REVIEW
Her third, possibly breakthrough novel When We Were Bad is a funny and affecting novel of life in a north London Jewish family. In the day job she has helped build Review into a commercial success without sacrificing literary quality.
Robert Macfarlane, 31
ACADEMIC AND AUTHOR.
Macfarlane’s wonderful first book, Mountains of the Mind, won a bunch of prizes and was filmed for the BBC. His second, The Wild Places, just published, about seeking wilderness in the UK, is even better. Inspired by such writers as Roger Deakin and Richard Mabey, Macfarlane is pioneering a new form of exquisite nature writing. He teaches English at Cambridge, when not wandering off.