Regulatory announcements

Nigel Newton to receive The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award 2020

24 February 2020

“In the 1980s Nigel Newton was known as the Boy Wonder because he did something viewed as next to impossible - he started a new publishing company and actually pulled it off.”
Margaret Atwood

“It is no hyperbole to say I know no one quite like Nigel Newton, a genuine Renaissance man.”
Khaled Hosseini

“Nigel Newton is one of the most important publishers of the last 30 years”
Charlie Redmayne

London, 24th February 2020: The London Book Fair will present the LBF Lifetime Achievement Award 2020 to Nigel Newton, Founder and Chief Executive of Bloomsbury Publishing.

Since starting Bloomsbury Publishing at the age of 31 in 1986, Nigel Newton has become widely respected as a visionary publisher with a global outlook and influence. He is a gifted entrepreneur who has led Bloomsbury from a start-up with an initial investment of less than £2 million to floating on the London Stock Exchange in 1994 to a market capitalisation of over £200 million today. Its annual sales are about £160 million from, unusually, both academic and general publishing, with 2500 books a year. Bloomsbury operates internationally with 750 staff in its offices in London, Oxford, New York, Sydney and New Delhi, and the drive continues with a new venture in China.

Bloomsbury has published books by Khaled Hosseini, Margaret Atwood, William Dalrymple, and Peter Frankopan. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, published by Bloomsbury, won the Golden Man Booker Prize as the best novel of the last 50 years. Bloomsbury is a leading academic publisher in the humanities and social sciences and a publisher of academic digital resources including Drama Online and the Churchill Archive Online. The academic division has won many awards.

With his colleagues, he played a part in perhaps the greatest publishing success of modern times with the publication of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books between 1997 and 2007—a UK phenomenon that has reverberated around the world ever since.

Beyond Bloomsbury, Nigel has made a huge contribution to the book industry. He has been a consistent supporter of book-related and other projects, including serving as President of Book Aid International, a Member of the Advisory Committee of Cambridge University Library, and Board member of the US-UK Fulbright Commission. He has served as Chair of World Book Day, a member of the Booker Prize Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Charleston Trust, a member of the Publishers Association Council, Trustee of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Chairman of the British Library Trust, head of the Selwyn Association, associate of Newton Vineyard, and helps with Cuckmere Haven SOS. He is an Honorary Doctor of Letters of Sussex University and was recently elected an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury, said: “It’s a great honour to be given this award. Thank you!

I’m so grateful to our wonderful authors and to all my colleagues, past and present - in particular David Reynolds, Liz Calder, Alan Wherry and Mike Mayer for their vital parts in Bloomsbury’s start in 1986 and for many years after, helping to confer the publishing values, vision, and entrepreneurial drive of Bloomsbury which remain to this day.

“Bloomsbury’s mission is to be an entrepreneurial, independent publisher of works of excellence and originality to a worldwide audience. Our purpose is to inform, educate, entertain and inspire readers of all ages. We aim to champion a life-long love of reading and learning to help build a reading culture with all the benefits which that brings society, with a particular interest in first-time writers.

“I am also very grateful to all Bloomsbury employees, authors and illustrators, customers, printers, freelancers, distributors at MDL and MPS, directors, shareholders and fellow publishers and members of the book trade.

“I’d like to thank the London Book Fair for being the amazing meeting ground of our industry that they are, for championing the importance of literature – and, of course, for this award.”

Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace) commented: “In the 1980s Nigel Newton was known as the Boy Wonder because he did something viewed as next to impossible - he started a new publishing company and actually pulled it off. I became a Bloomsbury author through Liz Calder, who’d been my editor at Cape but was head-hunted by the BW, bent on recruiting the best publishing talent he could find.

“It was a rollicking ride! Nigel’s Lifetime Achievement Award is ridiculously well deserved. Well done, Boy Wonder!”

Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns) said: "What a great pleasure to congratulate Nigel on this overwhelmingly deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.  It is no hyperbole to say I know no one quite like Nigel Newton, a genuine Renaissance man. Lucky for me, what Nigel knows and loves most are books and writers.  Let me add my voice to those of fellow Bloomsbury authors and thank Nigel for giving my books a home like no other and for connecting my work to countless readers around the globe.  More personally, I thank Nigel for his deep generosity, his unfailing warmth and effortless grace, for always making me feel way smarter than I am, and of course for all the wine and secret Yosemite spots.   Heartfelt congratulations to you, my fellow San Franciscan.   Well done."

Liz Calder, Publisher, commented: “Nigel’s visionary plan for an independent publishing company in the late 1980s, just when so many independents were being gobbled up by US and European conglomerates, inspired many of us to join The Great Bloomsbury Adventure.
And we never looked back. Thank you Nigel. It was a blast!”

Charlie Redmayne, Past President, The Publishers Association, added: “Nigel Newton is one of the most important publishers of the last 30 years. Many publishing companies have launched in this period but none have achieved what Bloomsbury has done. Building a huge commercial success as well as publishing some of the most brilliant and important books of that period.

“He has done all this whilst remaining one of the nicest guys I know. He is enormous fun and cares deeply for our industry and the work we all do’

The Rt Honourable The Lord Paul Boateng PC DL, Chair of Book Aid International, The House of Lords, Westminster said: “Nigel Newton’s leadership in the publishing industry and his championing of the role of Books and Publishing not least in the field of International Development over many years has been of huge significance. He has made an outstanding contribution both professionally and personally. Book Aid International and our global partners owe him a debt of gratitude He is worthy recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award .We continue to value him as our Honorary President and join with many others in wishing him well going forward. Ayeeko Nigel ! as we say in Ghana. Well done indeed!”

Jessica Gardner, University Librarian, University of Cambridge commented: “Nigel Newton’s exceptional gifts as a publisher mean that Bloomsbury perfectly bridges the popular and the academic, with beautiful, well-judged books we want to read and a thriving digital platform with outstanding educational content. He’s made readers, students and librarians happy the world over”.

Richard Ovenden, OBE, Bodley’s Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford said:  “Nigel Newton has been a tremendous innovator in the publishing world - constantly developing new ideas and new approaches to publishing: from the creative world of fiction to the erudite areas of academic publishing. It is hard to think of a publisher with a greater and more positive impact in recent decades than Nigel.”

Jacks Thomas, Director at The London Book Fair, said: Conferring on Nigel the LBF Lifetime Achievement Award is both a pleasure and an honour. His contribution to publishing, both Bloomsbury and beyond, is immense both here and around the globe as the Bloomsbury magic has been exported worldwide. From trade to academic, a champion of entrepreneurial publishing, Nigel is behind one of the most interesting independents in UK publishing today. Many congratulations!”

Nigel Newton was born and raised in San Francisco. He read English at Cambridge. After working as a trainee at Macmillan in London, he joined Sidgwick & Jackson. He conceived the idea of Bloomsbury in 1984 when he was 28 and the name Bloomsbury Publishing shortly thereafter. He left Sidgwick in September 1986 to launch Bloomsbury with three fellow publishers. Bloomsbury floated on The London Stock Exchange in 1994 and has grown organically and through 28 acquisitions. 

The LBF Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing will be presented to Nigel Newton by Stefan von Holtzbrinck, Chief Executive Officer of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, at the International Excellence Awards, an invitation-only event on Tuesday 10th March 2020, 6.00pm in The Conference Centre, Olympia, London.

The London Book Fair’s Advisory Board voted for Nigel Newton from a shortlist of international publishing figures.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognises an individual who has made a truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing. It is open to publishers, agents, editors, scouts and anyone else involved in international publishing from any country in the world. Last year the award was presented to Dorotea Bromberg, Brombergs Bokförlag, Sweden. Previous recipients include Sara Miller McCune, Sage Publishing, Luiz Schwartz, Companhia das Letras, Deborah Rogers of Rogers, Coleridge & White, Sonny Mehta of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., Lord Weidenfeld, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Christopher MacLehose, now of MacLehose Press, John Lyon of Little, Brown (posthumously), Lynette Owen of Pearson Education, Peter Mayer of The Overlook Press/ Duckworth Publishers, Drenka Willen, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Antoine Gallimard, Éditions Gallimard, Jorge Herralde of Editorial Anagrama and Michael Krüger of Hanser Verlag and Baroness Gail Rebuck, Penguin Random House. 


Media enquiries: Please contact Edwina Boyd-Gibbins at Midas PR, Tel: 020 7361 7860,

[email protected]

10-12 MARCH 2020


Notes to editors:


The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. Taking place every spring in the world’s premier publishing and cultural capital, it is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalise on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. LBF brings you direct access to customers, content and emerging markets. LBF 2020, the 49th Fair, will take place from 10-12 March 2020, Olympia London. LBF’s London Book and Screen Week will run for the third year, with the book fair as the pivotal three-day event within a seven-day programme. For further information, please visit:


The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing celebrates an individual's career dedication to breaking down borders in international publishing. Anyone involved in international publishing, from any country in the world, can be nominated. The award is judged by The London Book Fair Advisory Board, made up of senior figures in the international publishing industry.


2019- Dorotea Bromberg, Brombergs Bokförlag, Sweden

2018- Sara Miller McCune, Sage Publishing, US

2017- Luiz Schwarcz, Companhia das Letras, Brazil

2016- Gail, Baroness Rebuck DBE, Penguin Random House, UK

2015 - Peter Usborne, Usborne, UK

2014 - Deborah Rogers, Rogers, Coleridge & White, UK

2013 - Michael Krüger, Hanser Verlag, Germany

2012 - Jorge Herralde, Editions Anagrama, Spain

2011 - Sonny Mehta, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., US

2010 - Antoine Gallimard, Éditions Gallimard, France

2009 - Drenka Willen, Harcourt, USA

2008 - Peter Mayer, Overlook Press and Duckworth, UK & USA

2007 - Lord Weidenfeld, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, UK

2006 - Christopher MacLehose, MacLehose Press, UK

2005 - Lynette Owen, Pearson Education, UK

2004 - John Lyons, Little,Brown, UK & USA


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