The best-selling author, who receives hundreds of fan letters each week, told The Independent that children from Eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal all had better spelling and grammar than British children.
“They’re writing in English, and apologising for their English, yet these letters will be more grammatical and spelt more properly than [those from] our own children. It’s quite extraordinary.” Around 90 per cent of children who write to her cannot even spell Jacqueline correctly, she said, adding that standards had slipped in the two decades that children had regularly written to her.
The Bow Tie Goes Independent
David Fickling is to leave Random House, where he is publisher at the David Fickling Books children’s imprint, to set up as an independent publisher.
Fickling’s new company will take the name David Fickling Books, with Simon Mason joining as the company’s managing director. The venture will continue to be based in its existing Oxford office and plans to publish 25-30 books a year.
Meanwhile titles scheduled to be published at Random House’s DFB imprint after Fickling’s departure will continue to be published as DFB books by the RHCP fiction team headed by Annie Eaton and the picture book team led by Fiona Macmillan.
RHCP’s existing DFB backlist—which includes the young adult edition of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas—will gradually move to one of the other imprints in the Random House children’s division…
“I like publishing to be personal, and I want to keep at the level of making books. I’m 60, it’s about legacy—the storyhouse going on, the editorial team continuing to go on publishing the best books they can find. It’s also about sharing with authors, and partnerships. And it’s about autonomy—publishers have to recognise great work when they see it; and when they see it, act and get it out there.”
Fickling said he was looking forward to joining the community of small independent publishers. “I admire Andrew Franklin at Profile, Jamie Byng at Canongate, these amazing publishers and many others. These are the great powerhouses. I want to work with them too, and be a publisher in that group.”
Supported by Stephen Fry, Margaret Hodge and Charlie Higson, independent booksellers Frances and Keith Smith delivered a petition calling on David Cameron to take "decisive action [to] make Amazon pay its fair share of UK corporation tax" to Downing Street on 24 April.
Over 150,000 people have joined the Smiths’ campaign, which they launched last December, saying that "we pay our taxes and so should [Amazon] – please take a stand with us and tell Amazon to pay their fair share".