A look back at 2017: July to September

It's been a big year for Penguin Random House UK, full of award successes, brilliant titles and unforgettable campaigns. As the New Year draws closer, we're taking a moment to look back and reflect on a jam-packed year.

Read about January to March, and April to June. Skip forward to July... August... September.

July: Marching for Pride

On Saturday 8 July over fifty Penguin Random House UK employees took to the streets of London to march in support of Pride, which this year marked half a century since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. 

As part of Penguin Pride, our annual campaign celebrating the relationship between literature and LGBTQ equality, this year saw the beginning of a Pride Book Club, led by Penguin Platform and featuring LGBTQ YouTubers, in addition to a unique event featuring literature, live music, spoken word and author readings at Camden's Proud Galleries, featuring Kele Okereke (Bloc Party) and Z-Star Delta, and an essential LGBTQ library list.

 

Following the news that Jodie Whittaker is to be the new Thirteenth Doctor, we were delighted to announce that BBC Books and Penguin Random House Children’s UK had acquired world publishing rights for Doctor Who series 11 from BBC worldwide. Penguin Random House UK has long been the home of Doctor Who, with BBC Books publishing the series since the 1990’s and Penguin Random House Children’s UK publishing Doctor Who titles for over a decade, and books are a combination of titles that introduce the show and the Doctor to a new audience as well as more in-depth books for die-hard fans.

We also announced that The Snowman™ brand has been brought back in house, with Penguin Ventures now managing all licensing, consumer products and live events for The Snowman brand across all categories. Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Penguin Random House Children’s said:

Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book, The Snowman has been an integral part of our publishing business since it was first published by Hamish Hamilton in 1978. We are delighted to now be in a position to bring the entire Snowman business back in house and I know the Ventures team will ensure the brand continues to grow and evolve for future generations to enjoy.

August: A narrator 'better than an army of actors'

In August it was revealed that Michael Sheen would be the narrator for the audiobook edition of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One. Michael Sheen commented: 

    

    

The His Dark Materials trilogy had a profound effect on me. Rarely have I felt such loss on coming to the end of a story. So, as a reader and a fan, I was hugely excited on hearing that Phillip was returning to the story of Lyra and Dust and challenging the Authority. And, as an actor, it was a true privilege to be asked to record La Belle Sauvage, the first book of this new work. It was genuinely one of the most thrilling and enjoyable experiences I've had as a performer to sit in that darkened recording studio for three magical days and live inside the story of Malcolm and Lyra and their extraordinary journey.

    

 

On release, Michael’s spine-tingling performance of The Book of Dust was praised by fans and the media alike, with Slate.com calling it 'better than an army of actors'. The audiobook was a number one bestseller from the day of publication, received over a thousand 5 star ratings on Audible in the first month of its release, and Michael was shortlisted for Audiobook Narrator of the Year.

 

Listen to a snippet...

 

September: From Man Booker shortlisted authors to budding new writers

In September, Ali Smith's Autumn and Mohsin Hamid's Exit West were shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize, after judges whittled the longlist of thirteen down to just six. The two books shared the same editor, Simon Prosser, with both books being published by Penguin General imprint Hamish Hamilton. Two further Hamish Hamilton titles, Zadie Smith's Swing Time and Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness also made the initial longlist, which was announced in July.

 

Autumn, Ali Smith

A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both

Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever...

    

Exit West, Mohsin Hamid

An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind - when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world...

    

    

 

The Penguin Podcast reached its 50th episode in September. The podcast has played host to a wealth of talent from across Penguin Random House, including Zadie SmithHoward JacobsonHarriet Harman and Elvis Costello. The interviews, now conducted by David Baddiel, Paul Smith and Konnie Huq, introduce the listener to five objects that hold special importance with the author. Some, such as a real human skull brought in by Anthony Horowitz, turned out to be quite memorable…

Read more about the penguin podcast

 

    

    

It was also announced that Puffin’s Clare Balding and Tom Fletcher are both to be World Book Day authors in 2018, two of the ten authors chosen to pen new works that will be available for just £1, or free in exchange for a World Book Day token.

First launched in 1997 as a response to an increasing concern over poor reading and writing standards in children, World Book Day is now a global phenomenon. Over the past 20 years, World Book Day UK has distributed over 290 million £1 book tokens to children and young people across the country. This year, more than 1.2 million book tokens were redeemed and over £650,000 was raised for charity by World Book Day, enabling 1 in 4 children to purchase their first ever book.

And finally, across September Penguin Random House UK hosted 150 aspiring authors at three regional WriteNow events. Budding new writers from all over the country joined us in London, Bristol and Newcastle to learn more about how to get their book published, and for 10 exceptional writers – the chance to be mentored by a Penguin Random House editor for a year.

The fantastic line-up of authors speaking at each event included names such as Elif ShafakAfua Hirsh, Fox Fisher, Alan JohnsonBernadine EvaristoKit de WaalFrancesca Martinez, and Joe Earle; who talked to writers about their own experiences of getting published, their approach to writing and what advice they would give to new writers.

Alan Johnson, Kit de Waal, Tom Weldon, Nadia Shireen, Susie Day, Bernardine Evaristo and Joe Earle, take part in an author panel at WriteNow Bristol 

Charlene Allcott, one of our 2016 WriteNow mentees who will publish her first two books with Transworld, spoke about the positive impact the programme had had on her self-belief and confidence as a writer. She told other writers in the room to grab each opportunity they were given with both hands:

You are here because you have something to say, something that Penguin Random House think people want to hear and no matter how much further you go in the process do not give up that seat.

    

    

    

Read more

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