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Notable alumni

Liz Calder

24 July 2023

BA English 1959, LittD 2019

Editor and publisher


Elisabeth Calder (Liz) is an editor and publisher who, during her distinguished career, has discovered some of the greatest writers of our times. She spent her early years in London before she immigrated to New Zealand with her family in 1949. Liz graduated from the University of Canterbury (UC) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1958, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by UC in 2019.

Liz began her publishing career in 1971 at Victor Gollancz, where she published among others Salman Rushdie’s first novel Grimus, John Irving’s The World According to Garp and Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve.

Moving to Jonathan Cape in 1979, she published Julian Barnes’ first four novels, including Flaubert's Parrot. She then went on to publish her first two Booker Prize winners, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac.

Her gift for identifying outstanding writers saw her rise through the publishing world to become a founding director of literary giant Bloomsbury Publishing. Many Booker prize winning authors followed, with Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Nobel literature laureate Nadine Gordimer listed amongst the company’s writers.

Liz was named Editor of the Year at the British Book Awards in 1997, received an Order of Merit for Services to culture in Brazil in 2004, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University Campus Suffolk in 2012 and was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2018.

Despite her busy career, she also co-founded Women in Publishing (1979) and served as Chair of the Royal Court Theatre in London. In 2019 she was also a judge for the Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Learn more about Liz Calder’s life and work.

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