Blackstaff Press at 50
Join us to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of Blackstaff Press.
In 1971, at the height of the Troubles, Jim and Diane Gracey took a huge leap of faith and founded a publishing house in Northern Ireland. Fifty years on, Blackstaff Press is one of the most important publishing houses on this island, with a reputation for originality, quality and tenacity. Through conversation and some archive treats we’ll celebrate the remarkable story of a press that has defined publishing in Northern Ireland for half a century. This event will explore the vision that has underpinned Blackstaff; the defining moments in its history; how it kept going through the tough years; and what lies ahead for both Blackstaff and publishing in Northern Ireland. Naturally, we’ll also be talking about some of its most influential books and authors. Join Blackstaff’s former managing director, Anne Tannahill, and its current managing editor, Patsy Horton, in conversation with Eamonn Hughes and other key contributors.
Anne Tannahill joined Blackstaff as a trainee editor in 1976 and became managing director in 1980 when the company’s founders Jim and Diane Gracey sold it to Michael Burns. Together Michael and she published hundreds of books, many of them winning prestigious awards for content and design. Anne retired in 2003.
Patsy Horton joined the editorial department of Blackstaff Press in 2000 and became managing editor in 2003 when Anne Tannahill retired. Since then, she has been busy expanding and developing the Blackstaff list, including creating a digital list. She works closely with Malcolm and Wesley Johnston of Colourpoint Creative, who bought Blackstaff from the Baird Group in 2017.
Dr Eamonn Hughes taught in the School of English at Queen’s, specialising in Irish Studies on which he has published widely, including a brief history of Blackstaff. He has recently worked with Van Morrison on his volumes of Selected Lyrics. He is currently President of the Linen Hall Library.
Join Blackstaff’s former managing director, Anne Tannahill, and its current managing editor, Patsy Horton, in conversation with Eamonn Hughes. With contributions from Professor Paul Arthur, Wendy Dunbar and Damian Smyth.
Wendy Dunbar began working for Blackstaff Press as a designer in 1978. During her twenty-six years there, she designed over 250 books, many of them winning major design awards. She is currently a freelance book designer.
Paul Arthur is Honorary Professor in Peace Studies at Ulster University. He has published two books with Blackstaff Press – The People’s Democracy (1974) and Special Relationships: Britain, Ireland and the Northern Ireland Problem (2000). He has lectured extensively in Europe and the United States.
Damian Smyth is Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He has published six collections of poetry. His seventh collection, Irish Street, is due later this year.