The Literator: Inside Publishing

Jeanette Winterson is once again causing ripples, if not waves. The famously self-possessed author has quit oh-so-fashionable Granta Books, whose MD, Frances Coady, she followed from Random House, swearing undying loyalty to her. She has now returned whence she came, having succumbed to the siren call of the celebrated Caroline Michel.

As with Martin Amis, who lured HarperCollins into paying almost pounds 500,000 for what turned out to be a one-book contract and then returned to Random House, the crux of the issue is backlist. Cape, under which imprint Winterson was published, owns what's called the head contract to Oranges, Sexing the Cherry etc and thus it is they who license the paperbacks. Naturally, these are currently with Cape's sister list, Vintage, and Random House would very much like to keep it that way. Thus Granta or any other house seeking to acquire paperback licences would find the asking price set prohibitively high, as was the case with Amis.

Coady claims there are "no hard feelings", though the move is bound to add to the acrimony between herself and her former employer. Meanwhile, Cape publisher Dan Franklin is pooh-poohing industry gossip of a pounds 600,000 deal, saying only that the price for two books is "reasonable". The first of them is to be a collection of short stories.

A Fleet Street institution is to close at the end of the month. Simmonds, one of London's oldest bookshops, was founded in 1946 by Louis Simmonds, a presence in the cluttered, characterful shop until his death in 1994. The history of the tall, narrow premises can be traced back to the time of Henry VIII and it has at various times been a barbershop, a coffee-shop, a skinner's and a confectioner's. It escaped the Great Fire of London but was badly damaged in the Blitz - to be restored by Simmonds. Lawyers, judges and journalists have always made up a large percentage of its customers, and they will surely miss a shop that was very much a part of the Fleet Street "village". Always a family affair, Simmonds has for many years been run jointly by Louis' son and daughter, David and Judy, who are now bidding farewell to regulars who are practically friends. "They're all saying, `It's the end of an era'," says David.

A glance at the list of best-selling travel books suggests that most people prefer armchair travel. Figures for the 12 weeks ending June show that Bill Bryson outsold everyone else by a large margin. Notes from a Small Island, which boringly gathers every cliche-ridden idea about Britain between paper covers, sold an incredible 24,101 copies. At number three, The Lost Continent, the book that was plucked from the slush pile and which is Bryson's only truly funny outing, has notched up 7,532, while at number four Neither Here Nor There has shifted 6,143 copies. Pity Paul Theroux, a real travel writer, at number five with The Pillars of Hercules which could only manage 3,096. In case you're wondering, The Gardens of England and Wales was in second place with 11,601 copies. Are we to assume Scotland doesn't have any gardens?

Oscar Wilde continues to be big business for Fourth Estate, currently riding high with three best sellers, including Longitude, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. They have signed up three Wilde projects. Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland, is to edit a collection of letters, much expanded from the 1962 edition, which will be published to mark the centenary of Wilde's death in 2000. He is also to write a study of Wilde's legacy and the myths that have grown up around him. Finally, Holland will assemble a collection of photographs, The Wilde Album, which Fourth Estate will publish later this year to coincide with the release of the Stephen Fry film. Many of the photos have never been seen and they include shots of little Oscar in his pram as well as a deathbed photograph.

Over the next few weeks, numerous publishers will be wishing Shirley Hughes a happy 70th birthday, publishing new books and republishing old ones. The doyenne of children's illustrators was told by her tutors at Ruskin that she'd never make a living with her pen. While she would have preferred a career as a fashion designer, she's got no complaints and fashion's loss is the book world's gain.

Hughes was launched in 1960 with Lucy and Tom's Day, but it wasn't until the 1970s that she published her second book, Lucy and Tom Go to School. In 1977, Dogger was the big breakthrough and she has not stopped since. Now, daughter Clara Vulliamy is following in her mother's footsteps (her son Ed is a journalist on the Guardian) and Hughes' only worry is "living long enough to do all my ideas".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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 Media

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'