Pavilion Books’ A Night in the Cells (#CellNight) has seen 18 high-profile figures from the literary and arts world, including publishers and literary agents, competing in a charity auction to be one of six people locked up in cells in the Pavilion Books offices on the night of Thursday 19th June.
Today this list is reduced to the “Dirty Dozen” as the first eliminations happen. The remaining 12 potential prisoners are listed in the Notes to Editors below. The final six will be revealed on Thursday 19th June.
Between them they have raised in excess of £42,000, through more than 800 donations, with support not only from the literary world, but celebrity endorsements including Benedict Cumberbatch, Jamie Oliver, Gillian Anderson, Harlan Coben, Jemima Khan, Thandie Newton and Grayson Perry, as well as from the public.
Each potential prisoner has chosen a book they would want someone to be able to send into prison to them – an option not available under current legislation.
This event was the brainchild of David Graham, a consultant at independent publisher Pavilion Books and a fundraiser for charities The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) and the Howard League for Penal Reform, to support their work and highlight the Howard League’s Books for Prisoners campaign.
Pavilion’s offices are situated in the Old West London Magistrates Court, within which are six Grade II listed holding cells, last used in the 1990s. One famous occupant of the cells was former Rolling Stone Brian Jones, after being charged with drugs offences in 1967.
After the six selected fundraisers have spent the night in the cells, Pavilion Books’ will host a Press Breakfast at 8.30am – with opportunities for those locked up to describe their experiences and why they support the Books for Prisoners campaign.
Chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, said:
“A book can be a real lifesaver if you are locked in a prison cell for weeks, months or years. Reading books also go hand in hand with education, with rehabilitation, with humanity. If we want to encourage prisoners to read then allowing loved ones to send in books and other essentials to prisoners is surely to be welcomed.
“The Howard League is therefore delighted that Pavilion Books has organised this fundraiser and we hope the government will take note that the publishing world is not impressed with its spurious arguments and obstructive attitude to our campaign.”
Chief executive of The Book Trade Charity (BTBS), David Hicks, said: “All involved in The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) are excited to be involved in this unique and imaginative event. Funds raised will help us to continue to support those in need in the book trade; people who have spent their lives promoting and encouraging reading. That we can also highlight the iniquitous issue of banning the sending of books into prison is a special bonus.”
Chief executive of Pavilion Books, Polly Powell, said: “Pavilion Books is delighted to host this event and to use our strange and powerfully atmospheric cells to support two great charities and such a good cause.”
The Books for Prisoners campaign is calling on the government to end restrictions which prevent families and friends sending books, underwear and other essentials to prisoners. A host of leading writers, including Alan Bennett, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan, have called on the Ministry of Justice to review the policy which has been in place since November.
Tens of thousands of people have shown their support for the campaign by signing a petition and sending photographs of bookshelves to the Ministry of Justice’s Twitter account using the hashtags “#shelfie” and “#booksforprisoners”. Support from English PEN has seen the UK government’s stance condemned by international writers and former prisoners of conscience across the world.
The Dirty Dozen are:
David Young, CEO of Orion Books, President of the Book Trade Charity (BTBS)
Anne Sebba, Chair of the Society of Authors, author of nine non-fiction books
Clare Conville, Literary Agent at Conville & Walsh, Co-curator of the Curious Arts Festival
Polly Powell – CEO, Pavilion Books
Carole Blake, Literary agent at Blake Friedmann
Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors
Jamie Byng, CEO of Canongate
Seni Glaister, CEO and Founder of The Book People
Andrew Franklin, Founder and MD of Profile Books
Deborah Bull, Director, Cultural Partnerships, King’s College London
Kevin McGrath, Co-Founder of The Clink Prison Restaurant Charity
David Graham – Publishing consultant, Pavilion Books
A Night in the Cells will take place at Pavilion Books, The Old Magistrates Court, 10 Southcombe Street, London W14 0RA.