It seems rather apt that my last day working on the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction brought with it the kind of looming grey skies and relentless rain more suited to a Dickensian winter in London, than one of the last days in August during what was promised to be one of the hottest summers on record. Whether a severe case of pathetic fallacy or simply the weather we Brits must expect from the week prior to the August Bank Holiday weekend, it’s fair to say my mood was as despondent as the weather outside.
It feels like a lifetime ago that I first read Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth; that I tore out its author bio – filing it away with the hope that one day I might meet her. It, too, feels like a lifetime ago that my wonderful first boss Edwina encouraged me to start a book blog; insisting that it was the only way to guarantee a future in publishing. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that one day I’d be working for Kate Mosse on the literary prize she founded many moons ago; never did I think that I’d be lucky enough to one day convert my passion into my career and find a job that helped champion reading, writing and women’s literature.
The past two years have been the best kind of journey; I’ve learnt an incredible amount about both books and the world of social media – and have been lucky enough to work with some of the most passionate and inspiring people I’ve ever met; from the teams at Unity to Sunshine, from the teams at Diageo to Freuds. There have been the hugest of highs; and with them the balance of crushing lows, but more than anything it has been the most amazing adventure and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Working for the prize has fuelled my unending love of literature, and it has been an unbelievable privilege and honour to work on it for the first two years of Baileys sponsorship. I always knew that handing over the reigns would break my heart a bit, but I know I’ll follow the prize all the way from Sydney, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for the twentieth anniversary. It might be the most bittersweet of goodbyes, but I’m ready for my next chapter, and for everything that Sydney might throw at me.