With World Cup fever gripping the UK, HarperCollins UK CEO Charlie Redmayne, chose to thank FIFA for “not putting on an England game this evening” as he welcomed guests to the publisher’s annual Summer Party ‘in honour of our authors’, held once again at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s courtyard garden in London.
He thanked the entire HarperCollins team for their contribution to “a fantastic year” for the publisher. “Last year we celebrated our 200th anniversary and I think we have started our third century incredibly strongly. In the last year we have had 14 number one Sunday Times bestsellers which have spanned 53 weeks at the top, and we’ve had 17 weeks with the industry’s number one book.”
That title, of course, is Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and the author herself was among the roll-call of writers present. The list spanned decades of writing at the publisher – from Judith Kerr, the 95-year-old author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Michael Morpurgo of War Horse fame, to newer names like Sophia Money-Coutts, author of the chic lit The Plus One and Simon Worrall, author of The Poet and the Murderer, the true story of a forged Emily Dickinson poem sold at Sotheby’s in New York.
Other guests included former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Redmayne’s half-brother the actor Eddie Redmayne, historian Sir Max Hastings, the children’s authors Nick Butterworth and Eoin Colfer, and Lynne Reid Banks, whose L-Shaped Room published in 1960 is still regarded as a classic of its time.
Redmayne was pleased that the publisher had set up a new publishing operation in Ireland, doubling the size of its team, and said he was thrilled that HarperCollins UK was named Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards earlier this year. “The reason I’m pleased is that the award is for everyone – the authors, the editors, the warehouse staff. We have a great team who are at the top of their game. And most of all, of course, it about the authors: without you and your wonderful books we have nothing at all.”