Media: The Literator: Inside Publishing - Proffitt motive

Last week's announcement that Stuart Proffitt has resigned from his post at HarperCollins, following Rupert Murdoch's decision that his company would not publish a book that might jeopardise his Chinese interests, finally brought to an end weeks of speculation as to why the publishing director was "working at home" and couldn't come to the phone "for legal reasons". Colleagues had been intrigued and speculation soon spread beyond the security gates at HarperCollins's Hammersmith offices.

Resignation on a point of principle will do Proffitt no harm at all, but there will be a great many colleagues, past and present, who will allow themselves a moment or two of pleasure at the spectacle of his fall from grace, because Proffitt is respected rather than liked.

Though described as "gentlemanly", he does not always conform to that description. Certainly the girlfriend who left HarperCollins for another publisher after her relationship with Proffitt ended would not see him that way. In addition, he is an assiduous guardian of his turf, alert to even the slightest suggestion of encroachment, and when Malcolm Edwards, the former HarperCollins fiction publisher who quit last year, was given additional management responsibilities and a new title, Proffitt had to be placated with a similar title, though his status changed not one iota. Indeed, one rumoured cause of his recent absence was his objection to the promotion of Nick Sayers in the reshuffle that followed Edwards's departure.

Beyond the headlines is Proffitt himself, a curious anachronism who looks as though he would be at home in a novel by Waugh or Wodehouse. At 36, he looks and acts much older, and as his profile increased with the acquisition of Lady Thatcher he took to wearing foppish velvet suits.

Whither Proffitt now? Certainly, the Penguin Group could do with a high- profile non-fiction publisher. So, too, Macmillan. But there are a limited number of openings and, if money is a priority, few publishers will be able to match his HarperCollins salary. However, hire Proffitt and it's likely that you gain at least some of his authors. It is not yet clear whether John Major will want to follow him and, if he does, how many publishers would feel it worth stumping up the pounds 1m-plus required to buy him out of his HarperCollins contract? Things could get very interesting.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam