London’s Welbeck Launches a New Imprint with Christopher MacLehose

In News by Porter Anderson

One of the United Kingdom’s best-known proponents of translated literature, Christopher MacLehose opens a new imprint, Mountain Leopard Press.

A sign at London’s Prince Edward Theatre promotes support for the performing arts during the pandemic, reading, ‘The Show Must Go On.’ March 5, Soho. Image – iStockphoto: VV Shots

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

First Book: ‘Beirut 2020’
Readers of Publishing Perspectives may remember that in January, the London-based Welbeck Publishing Group acquired sixteen titles from the backlist of Palazzo’s editions with illustrations by Robert Ingpen, forming the basis of a new imprint, Welbeck Children’s Classics.

Today (March 23), Welbeck, under Marcus Leaver’s executive direction, has announced another new partnership, this time with Christopher MacLehose on a new translation imprint called Mountain Leopard Press.

Known as a leader in translated literature in the United Kingdom, the Edinburgh-born MacLehose is reported to have brought works into English from as many as 34 languages during his time as publisher of Harvill Press from 1984 to 2004 and then from 2008 when he created MacLehose Press as an imprint of Quercus Books. It was in the autumn 2020 that MacLehose left his eponymous press at Quercus after 13 years, as reported by Katherine Cowdrey at The Bookseller.

The new imprint is expected to be centered on translation, too, but should also include some literary work written originally in English. The imprint is expected to include narrative nonfiction, crime fiction in translation, and illustrated books, as well, a broad mandate.

Christopher MacLehose

In a prepared statement on today’s news about the new imprint, MacLehose is quoted, talking about three specific works ahead. “Mountain Leopard Press will begin by publishing an explosive memoir, Beirut 2020: The Collapse of a Civilization by Charif Majdalani,” he says. That book is to be published to mark the anniversary of the catastrophic blast in the Port of Beirut, August 4.

The Earthspinner (expected to release in September) is a book that MacLehose calls “a very beautiful novel by Anuradha Roy,” who today is based in Ranikhet.

And Stranger to the Moon is a book he describes as “a devastating fable by Evelio Rosero,”  with its release planned for December. Rosero, based in Bogota, is an author of nine novels that have been translated into a dozen languages, his awards including the Premio Nacional de Literatura in Colombia.

“In January 2022,” MacLehose says, “will be published the first novel of a historical quartet by James Buchan. The list” at Mountain Leopard, he says, “has translations in progress from seven languages and will strive with all it publishes to contribute to the development of humanity.”

Looking Ahead to First Releases

In Camden, London, February 23. Image – iStockphoto: VV Shots

On the new Mountain Leopard site, you find not only more information about authors Majdalani, Roy, and Rosero, but also on translators Anne McLean, based in Canada and co-translator of Stranger to the Moon; Victor Meadocroft, based in the United Kingdom and the co-translator with McLean of Stranger to the Moon; and Ruth Diver, based in New Zealand, and the translator of Beirut 2020: The Collapse of a Civilization. 

MacLehose is joined on the Mountain Leopard project by Rebecca Strong as senior editor. Strong worked with MacLehose at Harvill, followed by a stint at Bloomsbury and then a position as rights director for Random House’s Crown Publishing Group in New York City. Matilda Southern Wilkins is moving over from MacLehose Press at Quercus to Mountain Leopard with MacLehose, to serve as editorial and administrative assistant.

And the Welbeck connection is in the hands of Mark Smith, like Leaver now with Welbeck as an executive director and formerly at Quercus. Smith worked with MacLehose on bringing the Millennium trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson into English. More authors and translators MacLehose has worked with include Pierre Lemaitre, Philippe Claudel, Sergio De La Pava and Lars Mytting, Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, Peter Matthiessen, Georges Perec, Claudio Magris, Ismael Kadare, José Saramago, Vasily Grossman, WG Sebald, Javier Marías and Anna Politkovskaya.

Smith is quoted, saying, “I could not be happier to be reunited with Christopher and his new creation, Mountain Leopard Press. We had a very successful collaboration at Quercus and the books he curated there over 13 years are simply world-class.

“The new list looks equally high-quality and everyone at Welbeck is looking forward to introducing Mountain Leopard Press authors to readers all around the world.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here. More on the UK market is here. More on Welbeck Publishing Group is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.