Home » Non-US, The Business of Writing » Pullman resigns from Oxford Lit Fest over author pay

Pullman resigns from Oxford Lit Fest over author pay

14 January 2016

From The Bookseller:

Author Philip Pullman has resigned as patron of the Oxford Literary Festival in protest at its refusal to pay authors.

He announced his resignation on Twitter, saying: “Because of the Oxford Literary Festival’s attitude to paying speakers (they don’t) I can’t remain as a Patron any longer. I’ve resigned.”

He added: “They never have [paid], and I’ve long tried to persuade them to, but they won’t. Time to go.”

Pullman told The Bookseller he’d been appearing at Oxford Literary Festival for 20 years and had never been paid for speaking at the event. Pullman’s role as president of the Society of Authors, which has been campaigning strongly for authors to be paid at festivals, made it “awkward” for him to continue as patron of the festival, he added.

“…In the early days the Oxford festival was a small-scale and much more informal affair, run on a shoestring,” he said. “In recent years it’s become much larger and grander, putting on an air of being ‘prestigious’ and ‘exclusive’ and flourishing its large array of corporate sponsors. It seems contradictory to me to lay on lavish ‘black tie dinners’ and at the same time claim that it can’t afford to pay speakers.”

He added that he “disapproved very strongly” of the festival’s demand that authors should not speak on the same subject or do any signings within 30 days or 40 miles of the festival event. “That’s equivalent to saying ‘we’re not paying you, and we’re not letting you get paid anywhere else either’,” Pullman said.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Here’s a link to the Oxford Literary Festival. PG is pretty certain that some people other than authors are being paid for their work on this event.

Non-US, The Business of Writing

19 Comments to “Pullman resigns from Oxford Lit Fest over author pay”

  1. Good for him.

    Of course it doesn’t cost him anything to take this stance.

    • Frees up some of his otherwise wasted time dealing with them, so a positive thing for him.

      (and who knows, maybe others will follow suit and their next ‘prestigious’ and ‘exclusive’ event will be a ghost town …)

  2. Ditto on the “good for him.” More of the bigger paid authors need to refuse to support any venture (company or event) exploiting authors.

  3. I love an author who puts their money (or lack thereof) where their mouth is. He’s protesting what they’re doing and he’s not attending the event. Pullman is the opposite of all those authors who cry and moan about how evil Amazon is, yet continue to sell their books there.

    I wish other authors would follow suit, but I’m sure they found someone eager and willing to take his place.

  4. From the Oxford Literary Festival statement:

    “The Oxford Literary Festival is a registered charity that does not receive any government or public funding. Each year, substantial sponsorship and donations have to be raised for the festival to take place.

    “We are proud that for the past 20 years we have been able to put on a festival featuring a broad range of fascinating authors from the UK and overseas at various stages in their careers.

    “We have over 500 speakers each year. If we were to change our policy, we could not put on a festival as large and diverse as Oxford’s which supports and promotes the work of both bestselling authors and of those at the outset of their writing careers or with a smaller following.”


  5. Good to hear a high profile author standing up for an author’s right to be paid. How was he meant to obey their preposterous 40 mile exclusion zone –
    with his Golden Compass?

  6. Good for him. Writers need to be paid. Always.

  7. They’re not paying them AND they have what amounts to a non-compete clause? That’s the very definition of arrogant.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.