Meet the Scottish Literary Archivist whose typical workweek consists of researching over EIGHTY-THOUSAND books from the past two hundred years
ARCHIVIST Dawn Sinclair discovers lost literary treasures – being responsible for nearly 200 years of history at the publishing giants HarperCollins.
The 32-year-old Scotsman has the colossal task of registering and documenting over 80,000 books at the company’s headquarters in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow.
As we team up with Collins for our £ 1million Free Books for Schools program, Dawn, from Greenock, says: “The archives are like a snapshot in time.”
“There is no better feeling when you open a box and find something that no one has seen in a very long time.
“I have to deal with almost 200 years of history and it’s a huge responsibility. But I love this.”
And buried in the bowels of the giant warehouse are also around 6,000 boxes of correspondence – including legal contracts, letters, photos and works of art – from some of history’s most famous authors.
Here, Dawns shares some of the rarest finds from old records of a company that began life as a Collins Publishing Powerhouse in Glasgow’s East End in 1819.
GAME OF THRONES
In the mid-90s we released Game Of Thrones by American author George RR Martin.
But because it was a big volume, they came up with the idea of printing a preview version of the first book. The plan was that if readers liked it, they could recoup 99p – the cost of the preview – from the price of the full book.
This little book is quite rare because the whole promotion program did not work as well as they had hoped. But that didn’t stop George from being very successful and Game Of Thrones from becoming a worldwide TV hit.
The world famous crime perpetrator was very close to Billy Collins, who was the fifth William Collins to own the business.
In a letter, on the right, dated July 19, 1946, she asks Billy if there is any chance of having tennis balls since she was an avid player.
This is the kind of thing they were talking about, as she also wrote to Billy berating him for the color of a book cover saying it was “excruciating.” She was very direct and honest with him, but there was also the other side of the relationship where he bought her sports equipment and even a car at one point.
When Agatha died in 1976 at the age of 85, he delivered the eulogy at her funeral.
Billy died that same year at the age of 76. Agatha was a strong, determined and incredible woman who we still publish today 92 years later.
WE published late 19th century atlases of the world – it’s fascinating how different the world was back then.
And, of course, everyone is familiar with the Collins Dictionary which is still extremely relevant even in the digital age where many people use Google’s spelling.
For many households, having the Collins English Dictionary is still a must.
And although Collins Dictionary.com is a very important part of our business, it is very unlikely that we will stop publishing a print version.
ALISTAIR was a school teacher in Rutherglen, near Glasgow, who wrote short stories in parallel.
An employee’s wife spotted one of his articles in a local newspaper and recommended Collins to publish it.
So he wrote for us HMS Ulysses with The Guns Of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare, which were made into big movies.
We have a lot of correspondence between him and owner Billy Collins, who would set up a meeting at Alistair in Switzerland. He died in 1987, at the age of 64.
Scottish Sun Partners With Collins Publishers To Bring FREE BOOKS To Elementary Schools Across The Country
HE IS everyone’s favorite bear – and the one who has found a new lease of life with the fabulous movies.
But 2018 is actually the 60th anniversary of the first publication of Michael Bond’s books.
We found a lot of correspondence between Michael and his editor Barbara Ker Wilson. This included her original review where she predicted that Paddington was going to be loved for a very long time – and she was right.
There is a lot of artwork, to the right, in the archives of Peggy Fortnum, who was the original illustrator, and watercolors by Barry Wilkinson for the Paddington Cubs mini books in the 1970s.
It was such a shame that Michael passed away last year at the age of 91 and couldn’t celebrate his beloved bear’s 60th birthday.
THIS 1958 masterpiece by Russian writer Boris Pasternak has been banned in his home country.
So getting this book published from behind the Iron Curtain took all of Billy Collins’ diplomatic skill – and Boris won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
At one point Boris fell ill and Billy wrote to the Soviets offering to take him to the UK and secretly bring him back for treatment so as not to publicly embarrass them.
Billy really cared about its authors and the well-being of his staff.
WILLIAM Collins was the first to be a teacher teaching factory workers basic math and English.
He started his business in 1819 with predominantly religious publications, including hymn books, but in 1839 he obtained the license to print the Bible.
Until this point, only specific publishers were allowed to publish the Bible with the permission of the King of England. The Bible is still one of our best-selling books.
THE TIGER THAT CAME TO TEA
The famous book by JUDITH Kerr celebrates its 50th anniversary and luckily the author is still with us since we recently celebrated his 95th birthday.
Surprisingly, she continues to write and illustrate her fantastic Mog books for us too – people still love this cat.
All of his books are classics, but people still seem to love The Tiger Who Came To Tea as much as they did when it was first released.
We pay for your stories and videos! Do you have a story or video for The Scottish Sun? Email us at [email protected] or call 0141 420 5200