February 14, 2019

A.M. Heath Centenary

In 2019 A.M. Heath will have been in business for 100 years.

The first thing we have done to mark our centenary is commission a brief company history, researched and written by our own author Rob Dinsdale. It gives a sense of what we’ve been up to, and the writers with whom we have been working. Founded by two women in the aftermath of WWI, our history is a lot more interesting and amusing than a roll-call of distinguished names, and peppered with not a few unexpected twists and turns.

We have also commissioned one hundred short animations by artist Lizzy Hobbs which celebrate one hundred of our books from across the years. The animations are currently being released on our Twitter and Instagram, and they will soon find a home on the website too.

We’re focussing on activities that give something back to writers and writing. The major piece of sponsorship is a new prize for political fiction that we are setting up, within the Orwell Prize Foundation. Richard Blair, Orwell’s son, is the other sponsor. In the age of Trump and Putin it seemed an appropriate moment for such a prize, and the author of 1984 and Animal Farm would we hope agree that – particularly in the UK – we have been coy about recognising the politics in literature, and addressing the political head-on in fiction.

Secondly, we’re sponsoring some memberships of the London Library for aspiring new writers. It’s an amazing resource which many of our writers use all the time both for research and as a place to write. We will also be participating in a number of events that they lay on.

And lastly, we are sponsoring an anthology, working in conjunction with The Literary Consultancy. The Literary Consultancy does a fantastic job of bringing writers, who may otherwise be overlooked, to the attention of the wider publishing industry. The anthology will be made up of 20 talented, low-income, diverse writers from across the country.

You can’t really ignore a centenary, and when we first started thinking about where we’d come from – two feisty young women setting up on their own just after WWI – and where we’d arrived, with seven full-time agents, a team of three in foreign rights and a company of fifteen people altogether, it looked like progress. We have specialists in children’s books, crime and thrillers, popular fiction and non-fiction, history, memoir, and the whole range of literary writing; we are rattling off film and TV deals on a weekly basis in London, LA and elsewhere; our translation rights department is second to none.

It has been an industrious first hundred years of working with writers, and it continues to be a privilege. Thank you to all the writers, publishers, co-agents, scouts, and friends who have been part of it and kept us busy.


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