Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Rendell’

Writers in Parliament

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 7th December, 2016

simon-rendell-and-valerie-amosYesterday the House of Commons terrace hosted the Winter Reception of the All Party Writers Group, sponsored by the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), on whose Board I sit. These events seem to grow each year, which is a good reflection of a growing awareness in both the Commons and the Lords about the challenges facing writers today. The creative industries contribute at least £70 billion a year to the UK economy and writers are a vital part of that production, yet writers’ incomes have in general fallen drastically in recent years. The J. K. Rowlings of this world are the exception, as the average professional writer these days earns only about £12,000 a year, which is barely enough to subsist on. Moreover, tough challenges are coming down the line, not least Brexit and the advance of the digital age. This means a lot of uncertainty lies ahead, which is why it is so important that writers have allies in Parliament to intervene as appropriate when relevant legislation is being discussed, from the digital economy bill to EU copyright directives. In recent months a new body, UKWriters, on whose steering group I sit, has been coordinating some of the lobbying work and priority-setting by writers’ organisations, including ALCS and the Society of Authors.

andy-mcnabSeveral of the MPs and peers present at yesterday’s receptions are authors themselves (and therefore beneficiaries of secondary royalties from ALCS, as well as Public Lending Right (PLR). It was good to see, among others, Tim Clement-Jones, Valerie Amos and Richard Balfe. However, the peer most in people’s minds was the late Ruth Rendell, in whose name an award was created, to recognise the work of someone who has promoted literacy brilliantly. I was honoured to be the ALCS representative on the judging panel and delighted that the first winner was Andy McNab whose back-story as a writer and brave exploits in “unsafe spaces” for literature (such as factories and prisons) richly merited the accolade. He was alas unable to be present to accept the award from Ruth Rendell’s son, the psychiatric social worker, Simon, as he was yomping somewhere far-flung. But Simon had come over from Colorado, where he lives, and Andy McNab was represented by a witty and impressive recorded message redolent of the sort of originality and quirkiness that makes him so special.


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Ruth Rendell at the ALCS

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 25th November, 2010

Baroness Rendell, peer of the realm and peerless writer of mystery/murder stories was the guest speaker at the AGM of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) at the Clothmakers’ Hall on the edge of the City this evening. Though the organisation now has over 80,000 members — allegedly making it the biggest writers’ association in the world — fortunately only a few hundred turn up to the annual meetings, these days held in alternate years in London and the provinces. ALCS now distributes well over £20 million in royalties to authors each year — from photocopying and other rights — which doesn’t go all that far, but I can tell you, as someone who earns most of his bread and butter from his ‘pen’, it helps. After the administrative and financial reports, there is always a guest speaker, but Ruth Rendell broke with precedent by talking entirely off the cuff — a rather charming ramble along the past 47 years of her publishing life, through to her love of the London Underground. No dead bodies or unseemly messes were left at the end, disappointingly, but as ever on these occasions, the canopés were rather fine.


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