HarperCollins celebrates freedom of speech at Summer Party
HarperCollins UK “robustly defended free speech against some deeply unpleasant oligarchs and the Russian state” and stood by its author Catherine Belton (Putin’s War) against whom legal action was brought by Putin’s lawyers with the publisher successfully “battling a legal onslaught”.
These words from HarperCollins UK CEO Charlie Redmayne at the publisher’s Summer Party for its authors, held at the courtyard of the V&A Museum in London, were greeted with applause by the 400-strong audience of authors, editors, and agents. It was an eclectic gathering that included Earl Spencer, brother of Diana Princess of Wales; the lyricist Tim Rice whose credits include Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita; the war historian Max Hastings; and the pop singer Martin Kemp, whose band Spandau Ballet had a string of hits in the Eighties.
The publisher last held its Summer Party in 2019 just before Covid struck. “It is such a joy to be back,” Redmayne said. “The last two years have been tough for everyone. Authors had their routes to market blocked off with so many bookshops closing, and it was a worrying time.
“But there was a positive side too. Booksellers became inventive about getting the books out and people rediscovered the joy of reading, the power of books to provide entertainment and solace. And BookTok brought books to new readers.”
He praised staff at HarperCollins’ distribution centre “who continued to come in through the pandemic”, and said that a new state-of-the-art warehouse would be opening in Scotland in 2025. “We’re proud to have launched HarperNorth [based in Manchester] and Harper Ireland, and in the US we have taken Houghton Mifflin’s trade list under our wing. We’re lessening our impact on the environment and we’re working hard to be a more diverse publisher. We thank all authors for choosing to be with us and can assure them that they are joining the best team in the business.”