Cover Stories: Sue Freestone joins Quercus; Paul Sidey signs up Richard Littlejohn; Lakeland Book of the Year

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The Independent Culture

As suggested in this column, Sue Freestone, the Hutchinson publishing director responsible for such bestsellers as Sebastian Faulks, Stephen Fry and Robert Harris, is to join Quercus, the latest venture to be founded by Anthony Cheetham. Currently searing its name into the public consciousness with large ads for Aussie crime writer Peter Temple, the new company aims to build to a £50m business by 2011; it is currently at £3m, so there's work to do. Freestone, with a keen eye for talent and the patience to nurture it, will be a crucial building block. And it remains to be seen which of her many distinguished authors will join her.

Speaking of Hutchinson, Freestone's old colleague Paul Sidey has signed up Richard Littlejohn, the scourge of anything vaguely liberal. His book, Littlejohn's Britain (get it?), will be an attack on pomposity in all its forms. Not something he could ever be accused of himself, of course.

It's always heartening to see an independent publisher triumph. This week The Gardens at Levens by Chris Chowder (the gardener there for 29 years), published by Frances Lincoln, was named Lakeland Book of the Year - an initiative driven by the Cumbria Tourist Board and author Hunter Davies. Taking time off from the World Cup to present the award, Davies praised the book's "superb insight into social history". Another Frances Lincoln title, In the Footprints of Wainwright by Derry Drabs, has won the Dodd & Co award for photography. The firm's founder, who died too young a couple of years ago, would have been proud.