Congratulations on winning a Young Stationers’ Sector Award. For those not at the Young Stationers’ Dinner can you explain what you won the award for?
I won the Young Stationers’ award for Publishing, Digital, and Design, which was for magazine, Londnr, that I launched online in 2015, bringing out our first print issue (my pride and joy!) this year.
What attracted you to journalism as a career?
Actually, I never planned to be a journalist, like every slightly introverted and bookish teenager I wanted to be a novelist! But when I was trying to work out how to get started in writing, journalism seemed like a logical first step – and then I fell in love with it.
Tell us more about Londnr…
I started Londnr with selfish intentions: I very much wanted a chance to write about the topics I was interested in (not just what I was commissioned!) and to publish writers I believed in, but who were struggling to get seen, as I was.
So Londnr was born, and it focuses on arts, culture, history and lifestyle in our capital, though that’s just the bare bones. We pride ourselves on really engaging storytelling and meticulously researched pieces. All our content is ‘timeless’, meaning it isn’t pegged to any current events. At first this was a practical decision (we would have been too small to compete with other media outlets) but now we find it also gives us a lot of freedom to write what we want, not cover what we have too.
As a result Londnr is as eclectic as its namesake city, we try and explore it from every angle and include the breadth of characters who’ve passed through and left their mark. Our aim is to get right under the skin of this amazing place, unearthing all the forgotten histories of London. Amongst the topics we’ve covered was a history of pineapples (Cromwell banned them thinking they were too frivolous, King Charles II loved them so much he had a portrait painted with one); the origin of barristers’ wigs and even the scandalous love affair between two British Vogue editors in the 1920s!
So, you are taking a publication from the internet to print – isn’t that going against the grain?
Quite a lot of people were surprised, yes. But the truth is in the magazine industry it’s difficult to be taken seriously without a physical product, it’s a show of commitment and I guess of success in a way. Anyone can start a website, but curating a whole magazine then selling it is a huge statement. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a prudent one, but actually independent magazines are performing very well at the moment, since each has its niche audience. It’s the heavyweight magazines that are suffering; there isn’t a mass market for print anymore.
What are the challenges and how is Londnr best placed to meet them?
Time. Time is the biggest luxury of our age. Most media platforms don’t have the time to do the quality checks, proof-reading, fact-checking, grammar checking that we do. The news and media cycles are so fast now that content has to be pushed out as quickly as possible, and inevitably the product suffers. We take our time because I won’t compromise on quality – and since Londnr is my baby, I don’t mind staying up late or working long hours to make sure it’s as good as it can be!
How do you see your role developing in the future?
I think as with any start up, as it grows you have to grow with it and be flexible. I’m the founder and editor, but I’m also in charge of production, budgeting, writing contracts, marketing, partnerships and handling the whole events arm – I launched Londnr Events in 2016, it’s our cultural programme of talks, aimed to provide writers with advice – so for those I put together the speakers, organise the venues, promote the event, sell the tickets… everything! I guess in the future, I hope I can do a bit less!
Do you see other cities in the UK or possibly overseas getting the Londnr treatment?
I would love to do another ‘Londnr’ project in a new city! That would be an absolute dream, but one that is a little too far out of reach for now!
If Stationers want to get their hands on a hard copy of the magazine where can they find it?
The easiest way to get a copy is definitely to get it online at LondnrMagazine.com, the publication retails for £10.00 but we’re offering a special Stationers’ discount, selling it at £8.00 (Members should log in to the Members Only area of the website and click here for details of how to get this discount) so don’t miss your chance to get a copy! I promise it is bursting at the seams with brilliant stories!
You’ve been a Stationer now for two years – can you recommend membership as a good move for someone at your stage in your career.
I would absolutely recommend it. The first time I came I knew nothing about it and had no idea to expect, and I met some of the most welcoming, warmest and entertaining people I have come across in London! The key thing about joining the Stationers’ when you’re a bit younger is that you have access to industry leaders through the membership, and can meet people whose career advice can be invaluable. The best part is a Stationer will always go to the greatest lengths to help you out professionally too. It’s a true community.
City of London Champion Laura Miller writes:
Everything you ever wanted to know about the City and more…
If you are a Stationer, either Freeman or Liveryman you may feel you have an idea of the Company, you have eaten cheese straws, patted a friendly Labrador and become familiar with the goings on at Ave Maria Lane. But what of the wider City of London community, a community that, by becoming a Stationer, you have joined?
Just what is the City of London Corporation? It was described to me once as one third worthy town council, one third financial powerhouse and one third Borgian intrigue. That is not quite true, but it is unique with its blend of the modern, the historic and, occasionally, the downright peculiar.
City Briefings are held inside the historic Guildhall.
Four times a year, the Livery Committee hold special ‘City Briefings’ at Guildhall to help answer some of the questions you might have. Who are these Councilman and Aldermen, Remembrancers, Recorders and Town Clerks? And, just how do you go about becoming Lord Mayor of the City of London?
A Stationer waiting for the event to begin.
The evening is supported by the City of London and held in one of Guildhall’s historic rooms, the stress is on being informative and convivial. The evening starts with tea, coffee and biscuits and the chance to mingle. Name cards at the October meeting revealed a variety of Freemen, Liverymen and Clerks. The briefing itself consists of a series of talks covering the Livery community as a whole, including one from a senior member of the City’s administration talking about what it does and an explanation of what a Freedom of the City of London Ceremony involves. Finally, an Alderman, often an erstwhile Lord Mayor will talk about the role of the Court of Aldermen. At the end there is an opportunity to quiz all the speakers on any aspect of the City of London.
Waiting for the panel discussion to begin
Once the educational part of the evening is concluded the wine and canapes appear and there is a further chance to network with attendees and speakers.
There is so much in which to become involved beyond your own company in the City – remarkable historic ceremonies, excellent music, world class theatre and of course the chance to become active politically at various levels.
I usually attend these briefings and keep a sharp eye open for Stationers. I would strongly urge anyone who wants to learn more to attend, it does not matter if you have been a Freeman or Liveryman for a couple of years.
Livery related merchandise
Further City Briefings take place on Tuesday 20th November 2018, and Tuesday 5th February 2019. They cost a very reasonable £20.00 and you are welcome to bring partners/guests.
The dates of the briefings (often up to a year or so in advance) are always given in the Office News Letter which forms part of your bulk mailing so if none of the dates above works for you have a look at the next Office News Letter and make a note in your diary. You can book to attend here.
Our Archivist, Dr Ruth Frendo, writes: To mark Black History Month, we’re highlighting a very significant document from our archive. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African was registered in our Entry Book of Copies on its first publication in 1789.
Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745–1797) was born in west Africa, and was sold into slavery as a child. In his memoir, he describes his home and upbringing as the son of an Eboe (Igbo) dignitary. He calculates that he would have been eleven years old when he was kidnapped by slave raiders. He was then sold on several times, each time taken further away from home, eventually finding himself on an Atlantic slave ship. There followed years of hardship, during which he learned to read and write English, worked his way up to the rank of able seaman, and purchased his freedom. He subsequently became a passionate activist for the abolition of slavery, and a defender of London’s black poor (many of whom had fought on the British side in the American War of Independence, and retreated from North America with the defeated British in 1783).
The Interesting Narrative… was published by subscription: in other words, the publication was financed by a group of individuals, all of whom received a copy, much as happens today with crowd-sourcing initiatives such as Kickstarter or Unbound. This was not an uncommon publishing model in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – notably, the first illustrated edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dryden’s translation of Virgil, and Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language were all published by subscription schemes. The list of subscribers to Equiano’s Narrative is now, of course, an interesting historical document in its own right, and illustrates how sympathy for abolition had gained ground among different social groups. Those who contributed include the Prince of Wales (subsequently George IV) and several members of the aristocracy, as well as Equiano’s fellow abolitionist Granville Sharp, and a long list of individuals whose histories, other than as supporters of the abolitionist cause, are now lost to us. Other prominent members of the African British community also subscribed: Ottobah Cugoano was himself a published author by this point, and his book Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species was an important abolitionist tract. Also on the list is ‘William, son of Ignatius Sancho’. Ignatius Sancho was an author and composer, and the first Briton of African heritage known to have voted in a British election.
Equiano’s use of two names in his authoring of the book is significant. In the book, he explains that Gustavus Vassa was the name given to him by his ‘captain and master’ on board the slave ship that first carried him to England. Prior to this, he notes, he had been assigned random names by different slavers: ‘In this place I was called Jacob, but on board the African Snow I was called Michael.’ But he also recounts that as a child he was named ‘Olaudah, which in our language, signifies vicissitude or fortune, also, one favoured, and having a loud voice and well spoken’. Reclaiming that name is clearly part of reclaiming his dignity from the dehumanising narrative enacted by enslavement.
Equiano’s memoir played a vital role in the abolitionist campaign. It’s not the first testimonial of slavery registered at Stationers’ Hall; earlier texts detail the sufferings of Europeans taken captive by soldiers and privateers of the Ottoman Empire, such as Francis Knight’s A true and strange relacion of seaven yeares slaverie Under the Turkes of Argeere suffered by an English Captive Merchant (1640). This tradition of writing used biblical imagery to express the self-perception of Christian Europe in relation to an alien ‘Other’, and was subsequently developed by English settlers in America into the genre of captivity narratives, memoirs of settlers enslaved by Native Americans. Equiano’s literary intervention appropriates and subverts this rhetoric, showing the Europeans as the enslaving ‘Others’. It’s a brilliant strategy of empowerment, and by registering the book at Stationers’ Hall, Equiano injects this subversion directly into the mainstream discourse.
It took another 40 years of dedicated campaigning for the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire. The shift of perception engendered by texts such as Equiano’s should not be underestimated in this campaign, and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano stands among the earliest works in a genre which, as developed by writers such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs and Solomon Northup, was to become particularly significant in American literature and the American struggle for emancipation.
As the new Company year starts, a new team of four Renter Wardens takes office. Renter Wardens serve for one year and this year they are (starting top left and moving anti-clockwise in the photo) David Harry, Andrew Jones, Rod Kirwan and John Waits. Their role is to ensure the smooth running of events and to guard the Court when it sits. They wear a dark blue gown with a thin red border and if walking outside, say when leading the Court as it moves between the Hall and the cathedral for the Cakes and Ale service, a hat is worn.
Liveryman Mike Mote accompanies the Court to the Cathedral in 2017- his year of office as a Renter Warden
Freeman Richard Gilpin has been kind enough to research the history of the role of Renter Warden and writes:
THE STATIONERS’ COMPANY’S RENTER WARDENS
The position of Renter Warden in the Stationers’ Company is an historic one, which dates back to the granting of the 1557 Charter. The Charter in turn led to a grant by the City in 1560 which gave the Stationers the right to have a Livery. In this grant the number of Liverymen in the Company was defined merely as ‘all suche and asmeny’ as could afford it.
By the summer of 1562 the shape of the company had become clear.
At its head were the Master, the Upper Warden and the Under Warden. Immediately below them in precedence were the Senior and Junior Renter Warden, chosen annually on Lady Day, who were senior members of the Livery but not members of the Court. Their main responsibilities were collecting the quarterly subscriptions from all freemen (until 1567 they were also called Collectors), keeping the accounts, and maintaining an up-to-date list of the names and addresses of freemen and liverymen. Until 1887 they also had to provide a Venison or Election Feast for the election of the Master and Wardens on St Peter’s Day, 29th June.
This work would have brought them into close touch with the Under and Upper Warden, an experience that would have been invaluable to them if they wished to progress in the Company.
Any Liveryman who was not already a Court Assistant would have discovered that until he had served as Renter Warden he would not have been eligible for election to the Court of Assistants. This would in turn have prevented him from progressing to become Under Warden, Upper Warden or Master. The office of Renter was a bar that had to be passed, either by Serving or Fining, before a man (and now a woman) could proceed to the Court.
In the 16th century Renter Wardens were drawn from the pool of Liverymen at the rate of one per year (each holding the offices in successive years), and a second pool was then created from which a new Under Warden was drawn off each alternate year. Of the first forty-five Liverymen, only eleven failed to become Renter Warden – of these, most were prevented by death.
The fining for avoidance of office as Renter Warden was introduced by the Company in 1578, and in 1598, when James Askew utterly refused to serve, he was ordered to prison as a warning to others, and fined £5 for ‘disobedience, obstinacy and breaking the ordinances’.
In the early 17th century, owing to the complexity of rents and fines at the end of leases involved in the collection of rents, this duty was taken out of the hands of the Renter Wardens and given to the Clerk.
By the 1690s a Renter Warden, having been elected by the Court from the Livery, still had the job of collecting quarterage, and had to account to his successor within a month of doing so; any failure incurred a fine of £5 for each month’s delay. Fines of £50 for refusing election and for failing to provide a dinner for the Livery on Lord Mayor’s Day (a somewhat onerous responsibility) could also be levied. Around this time the position of Assistant Renter Warden was created, and the occupant would normally have become Renter Warden a year later.
The Stationers’ Company entered the 19th century on a wave of prosperity. Rents were rising and, with the popularity of Old Moore’s, English Stock’s almanack business was flourishing. Not all Liverymen however were called to Serve or Fine for the office of Renter Warden: they formed, along with those who were not ambitious for promotion (or too poor to pay for it), a section of the Livery that was known as Rotten Row.
In 1884 the Court relieved the Renter Wardens of their obligation to provide the annual Lord Mayor’s Day Livery Dinner.
Today four Liverymen become Renter Wardens each year, and their responsibilities are significantly less demanding than their predecessors in the previous four hundred years. It is, however, a position that gives Liverymen a glimpse of life on the Court and it often leads to progression from the Livery to higher office
1969 photograph of Renter Wardens D Wyndham Smith, E Lovett-Derby, G Mandl, J McGarry. Charles Rivington (Master) is in the centre.
David Wyndham Smith and George Mandl were subsequently elected Master (in 1981 and 1992 respectively).
Ruth Frendo writes: In June I attended a joint meeting of the City, Cambridge and Oxford Archivists Groups, held at the Museum of the Order of St. John (photo above). The meeting was accompanied by a programme of talks and presentations on recent developments relating to archives held by some of the member institutions of the three different groups.
The City Archivists Group is a network for archivists working in the City of London, and also welcomes anyone with a professional or personal interest in the City’s archives. Group meetings provide a fascinating insight into the breadth and variety of these collections, which include archives of the livery companies, financial organisations, the Inns of Court, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Group has a special connection with the Stationers’ Company, as it was set up in 1986 by my predecessor as archivist, Robin Myers, with the support of the Master of the Company at the time, Alan Thompson. So it seemed particularly appropriate to give a presentation in which I talked about the fulfilment of another project initiated by Robin’s pioneering work: the improvements in preservation of, and access to, our records achieved by the construction of the new Tokefield Centre.
Talks on the programme varied as widely as the organisations represented, and included an inspiring presentation by the Salter’s Company Archivist and Public Programmes Manager, who described their work to widen educational access to their Company’s archive; an informative breakdown of digital project management by the Baring Archive’s Digitisation Archivist; and an introduction to the Institute of Historical Research’s Layers of London project, which is using historical property records held by London’s public and private archives to create a digital map which chronologically ‘layers’ the changing landscape of the city.
As well as offering a great opportunity to meet other professionals and discuss our work, the day gave us a chance to look around the fascinating Museum, which I had never visited, despite its nearby location in Clerkenwell. The Order of St. John’s established its Clerkenwell Priory in the 12th century, but the Order’s land was seized by the Crown during the Reformation, and the Clerkenwell property saw different uses over time (including providing the offices of the Master of Revels in the sixteenth century). The Museum’s collections chronicle the Order’s history and its role in cultural and medical developments, and is well worth a visit. Many thanks to Stationer Robert Athol for organising the meeting. Robert ran the City Archivists Group for the last three and a half years, and although he's now handing over this role, he will continue to play an active part in the Group's activities.
Members will be familiar with the story of the origin of the word ‘Stationer’ as the name those limners who stopped being peripatetic, and who set up stalls or ‘stations’ in St Paul’s Churchyard, were given. Julian Venables who was made Free in January writes on, amongst other things, astrology and is very interested in the Company’s almanacs and he has come up with an alternative theory about the origin of the word. While we can’t see the Company changing horses at this stage it is an absolutely fascinating theory as we are sure you will agree. Please click here to read Julian's article
Bettine Pellant, CEO, PICON and Liveryman of the Stationers' Company outlines the relationship between PICON and the Company and how each benefits the other.
While the Stationers’ Company has its roots in history, it has worked very hard over the years to ensure that, unlike many other Livery companies, it remains very relevant to the evolving print industry. One way it does this is by maintaining close links with the industry’s trade associations. One of these is PICON which represents the suppliers to the printing industry in the UK and has had close links with the Stationers’ Company for many years. There is a nice and natural synergy between the two on many levels. Whilst I am CEO of PICON, I am also very proud to be a Liveryman, so too is past PICON Executive Director Tim Webb who is a familiar face to many in the Company.
PICON is just one of several print industry trade associations that come together to support the Stationers’ Company’s events and awards. It provides a natural, neutral and historical hub for us all, bringing us together to meet, network and exchange ideas. One such event is the Winter Trade Association Meeting and Lunch on 22nd January when a number of trade associations will meet to discuss a variety of topics and listen to guest speaker Lord Triesman, a Labour Lord and recent Liveryman, talk about what we might expect from any change to a Labour Government should an election be called any time soon! This is a key event in the Stationers’ calendar which not only facilitates the variety of print industry trade associations to network and discuss matters in confidence, but also provides a valuable forum to update Stationers’ on what is happening in various areas of the industry.
PICON also supports the Shine School Media Awards and the Innovation Excellence Awards. Last year the PICON Shine Award for Best Business Strategy was won by St Paul’s Girls’ School for their school newspaper The Marble which turned a loss into a £1000 profit in just one year. The Innovation Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate innovation and the key role that our industries play in the UK economy. Tim Webb is on this year’s judging panel and the winners will be announced at an event on 26th June.
For PICON, the special link we have with the Stationers’ Company allows us to appreciate the past and celebrate the future.
Past Master Ian Locks recently came across an article, which he described as “the most powerful I have read for a long time which describes the history of the last 22 incredible years for the printed media”. It is well worth the read and you can do so by clicking here. With thanks to BoSacks & The Precision Media Group, America's Oldest e-newsletter est.1993.
The Clerk, William Alden, rightly insists on absolute black tie for gentlemen at livery dinners. So it was with some trepidation that I asked if my guest, Mr Julius Mih, could come in colourful African robes! To my delight he readily agreed. For my guest, on his first visit to the UK, this became an amazing experience.
Mentoring at SCWA – an eye-opener.
It seemed like a no-brainer, in 2014. The Company wanted volunteers to start a mentoring scheme at the Academy. I had the time, and after completing the very thorough safeguarding checks, was delighted to be deemed eligible.