Over the years the Stationers’ Company has invited 27 people who have contributed significantly to the communications and content industries to become Honorary Freemen and Liverymen of the Company.
The Rt Hon. W.H.Smith M.P. – 1880
William Henry Smith was a bookseller in the family firm W H Smith. When he took ownership of the family business he expanded it to sell books and newspapers in busy train stations. In 1874 he retired as an active partner in order to focus on politics. He received the title of Honorary Freeman and Liveryman in 1880 but by then he was well and truly focused on his political career, becoming a Leader of the House of Commons. W.H.Smith still has a presence on the high street.
Sir James M. Barrie Bart. OM. M.A. LL.D. - 1925
Sir James Matthew Barrie was a novelist and dramatist. He was most renowned for writing Peter Pan, a classic and timeless story which has been passed down to many generations and adapted into films and animations by Disney.
In 1913 Barrie was made a member of the order of merit and in 1925 he was given the Honorary Freeman and Liveryman title by the Stationers’ Company. Before his death he gave all the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Rudyard Kipling Esq. LLD. D. LITT. – 1925
Rudyard Kipling who was born in India was a novelist and poet. He was most well-known for writing The Jungle Book, a children’s classic which was made into an animated film by Disney. In 1907 he received the Noble Prize for Literature and was the youngest person to receive this prize to date.
He was well-travelled spending time in Devon, South Africa and the United States. Kipling was made an Honorary Freeman and Liveryman in 1925. After he died, his home became a museum dedicated to his life. Members who attended the Rudyard Kipling Banquet in 2013 will remember Jonathan Jones reciting some of his most famous poems!
Sir Basil Blackwell Kt. - 1972
Basil Blackwell had a passion for fine printing and was the first in his family to go into higher education (college). On the death of his father in 1924 Basil took ownership of the Company. It was well-established and had a good reputation in the printing industry which Blackwell maintained. In 1956 he was knighted and was the only bookseller in history to receive this honour. Sir Blackwell became an Honorary Freeman and Liveryman in 1972.
Sir Israel Gollancz LITT. D. F.B.A. – 1923
Sir Israel Gollancz was an English Literature scholar with a leaning for Shakespeare. He edited the Temple Shakespeare which became a best seller. Sir Israel was a professor at Kings College for 27 years and a founder of the Royal National Theatre. He became an Honorary Freeman and Liveryman in 1923. In memory of his life The Sir Israel Gollancz Prize was introduced in 1930. This prestigious award is now given to scholars of early English language, history or literature.
Dr Vinton Gray Cerf – 2015
Vint Cerf has contributed a huge amount of his time, knowledge and skills to society. He is known as one of the ‘fathers of the internet’ as he helped create the architecture of the internet as we know it! In 2005 He received the Nobel Prize for Computer Science and is now a very senior figure within Google.
Cerf is a member of the Information and Technologists Company and is a Freeman of the City of London. He became an Honorary Freeman and Liveryman at Stationers’ Hall in 2015 and in his speech he said that he would take it on as a ‘personal challenge to help that which we digitise to have longevity’.
The full speech can be viewed here.
Professor Hans Rausing K.B.E. - 2011
Professor Rausing was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 2006. He was also awarded the title Honorary Freeman and Liveryman of the Company in 2011. Rausing has made a magnificent contribution to positive change in the World by the invention and development of 'Tetra Pak', which enabled milk and other consumable liquids to have a hygienic and longer shelf life. His proudest achievement came when children in southern Italy were able to drink fresh milk for the first time in their lives and when it was discovered that children in Japan had grown measurably taller after they had access to fresh milk in 'Tetra Pak's'.
Sir Stanley Unwin K.C.M.G. LLD. - 1966
Sir Unwin was a British publisher and founder of The George Allen and Unwin House. Authors and strong public figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Bertrand Russell were published here which caused some controversy. He was best known for publishing the famous J.R.R. Tolkien series ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, which both became famous worldwide. In 1966 he was the 20th person in history to be given the award of Honorary Freeman and Liveryman.
The Rt Hon. Maurice Harold Macmillan MP - 1956
Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister of the UK in 1957 and served for 6 years. He was the last Prime Minister to be born into the reign of Queen Victoria and also the last to have served in the First World War after which he joined his family's company Macmillan Publishing as a junior partner.
Macmillan died at the grand age of 92 which is the greatest age attained by a Prime Minister.
Sir Edward Pickering Kt. - 1985
Sir Edward Pickering was a well-respected British newspaper editor for major titles including the Daily Express, Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail. He was also chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers, vice-chairman of the Press Council and executive vice-chairman of Times Newspapers Ltd.
Sir Edward was knighted in 1977 and made an Honorary Freeman and Liveryman in 1985. His involvement and support of St Bride’s led him to become a Master of the Guild of St Bride. In 1995 at the British Library, the Tyndale Society was formed with the support of Sir Edward Pickering to celebrate the importance of Tyndale’s work.