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Proud as Punch: Alison Morrison Diversity Award for Barrington Stoke

Alison Morrison Diversity Award 2016

At the Independent Publishing Awards last night we were shortlisted for two awards – Children’s Publisher of the Year and the Diversity Award. We were utterly convinced that we would win neither, and so when they called out our name for the Alison Morrison Diversity Award we were completely floored. The other publishers in our category were Oneworld, the inspiring company behind the Booker Prize winner A Brief History of Seven Killings, and Carcanet, a fiercely multicultural poetry list. We were fairly sure that Oneworld would win and we cheered our heads off when they picked up the Trade Publisher of the Year going later on.

We were incredibly pleased and proud to win the Alison Morrison Diversity Award. It means a tremendous amount to us that the judges agree that our inclusive mission falls within the definition of a diversity within the publishing industry. As we we said in our speech (or we think we said – we were winging it!), we believe that access to books and reading should be a right, and we all need to do more to open the doors that still lock too many people out. We also believe that children want to open those doors when they can ‘find themselves’ in books and we are committed to diverse and inclusive representation for that reason and also because it’s just the right, sensible thing to do.

We’re going to be announcing an exciting new publishing direction for our company very soon, and it’s one that is grounded in diversity. Fiction, we think, is about broadening horizons, living other lives, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. We want to travel to places we’ve never been, hear voices we’ve never heard and be challenged to look at the world in new ways.

Of course we remain hugely committed to the Barrington Stoke list and have so many exciting and diverse titles coming there too.

Huge thanks to the Independent Publishers’ Guild and to Grantham Book Services who hosted us on their table. Congratulations to all of the other winners and all on the shortlists. And we couldn’t finish this article without acknowledging the legacy of Alison Morrison, for whom the award is named. Alison was a trailblazer in encouraging diversity in publishing. She was murdered in 2014. Her colleague Elise Dillsworth presented us with the award; our thanks to Elise and to Alison’s friends and loved ones for their endorsement of this fantastic award.

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