Authors line up to defend sacked editor

WRITERS lined up to condemn HarperCollins' treatment of its chief editor Stuart Proffitt yesterday amid signs that some will leave or be tempted by rival publishers who are waiting to pounce.

Fay Weldon called yesterday for a meeting of HarperCollins authors to protest at Proffitt's departure and said she was considering her position: "I suspect that in future if a book is likely to be politically tricky then the author will go to another publisher. I think writers will be a lot more wary of going to HarperCollins. This is certainly not going to make things easy for them or the people who work there."

She added: "What upsets me is that the idea that writers can be insulted as a way out for the bosses. I can understand the book being stopped for political reasons, and that happens, but when the reason given is that it's not of sufficient quality then that's insulting to the writer and upsetting. I think it is very upsetting to suggest that Chris Patten's work is not up to standard."

Weldon was joined by Doris Lessing who told The Independent: "These big robber barons who make empires out of publishing treat their editors like dirt. I've been so shocked by it. It's unheard of this happening in a serious publishing house of intellect and merit and now suddenly we find it happening. Mr Murdoch couldn't care less about his authors."

Historian Peter Hennessey has already written to Mr Proffitt to tell him that he will be moving to wherever he goes: "If he can take his authors with him, then I'll go. The relationship between an author and their editor is a most special one. It's the reason we go to publishers. I think that a lot of his authors will go with him if they can."

Meanwhile rival publishers have already started contacting the agents of disgruntled writers: "Of course we will take advantage of it," said Martin Neild, managing director of Hodder & Staughton. "We're not quite drawing up a hit list, but there are a number of writers we are interested in. What happens in a situation like this is a general climate of uncertainty."

HarperCollins refused to comment on the story, but insiders said they were feeling rattled: "There is stunned disbelief here. I cannot recall this type of interference before. I should imagine editors will have some interesting questions to field from authors."

"If an author doesn't want to remain with a publishing house there is not a lot a publisher can do about it," said the insider. "You cannot force them to write for you and imagine the publicity if they start claiming they are being held against their will."

To add to that uncertainty it emerged yesterday that Stuart Proffitt's deputy Toby Munday is also leaving the company.

"This is fantastically damaging," said one publishing source. "They do a lot of political biographies. Now agents and authors will feel unnerved in case staying with HarperCollins will taint your work."

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Sport
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura sprays a line after calling for a free kick for Brazil
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Tax Solicitor

£40000 - £70000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Tax Solicitor An excel...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: This is an exce...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz