Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Goodbye Marion Lloyd

Marion Lloyd: Brilliant
The Hospital Club in Covent Garden was abuzz with almost-weeping authors and publishers last night: the excellent and redoubtable Marion Lloyd is retiring from publishing. I've been a great admirer of her books for years: sometimes doing a round up is very difficult, as hers always warrant more attention. She's picked and nurtured many excellent authors  - Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge, Sally Nicholls, Eva Ibbotson, Georgia Byng and dozens more - and her books have won every prize going. Her husband and children (who include the actor Harry Lloyd) were also in attendance. It was on her advice that I read Peter Dickinson's fantastically good The Ropemaker.

The head of Scholastic said in a speech that when Marion, as a descendant of Charles Dickens, was introduced to the Queen, the Queen said - "You're Marion Lloyd. The publisher." Which, as accolades go, is up there with the best.

In a warm and funny speech, Marion said that she was very lucky to have got her job at all - she began as a shorthand typist. It is a sad indication of the world today that someone "without qualifications" would not be able to get into the publishing business as she did. In her day, she could buy a book for a thousand pounds and sell 25,000 copies; these days, it's more likely that you buy one for £25,000 and sell a thousand copies. She joked that retirement sounded like slippers and cardigans, and that she didn't want to do anything like that; so let's hope that we still see more of her in the book world in the years to come. A hearty cheer for Marion, for her wonderful imprint, and for all the excellent books that have stimulated and challenged children's imaginations over the last forty years.

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