Next up in our Meet the Boydell Team series is Elizabeth Howard, in the office we call her Lizzie, from the UK editorial team.
What led you to your current role at Boydell & Brewer?
In the final year of my Ph.D. I helped to set up, and then became president of, a society at the university. While I was president, I realised just how much I enjoyed being in an organisational role. For this reason, I stared to look for career opportunities outside of being an academic. But I didn’t want to give up being a member of the research community. My job at Boydell is prefect for me as it helps me blend my interest in all things historical with my organisational skills. I also feel like I’m still developing as a historian in this role – I’ve discovered so many new areas of research through all of the books that I am helping to produce.
What’s the absolute best part of your job?
The best part is working in a small office where I get to be involved with all stages of a book’s life. It’s great to know that all of the departments are working together to make the book’s journey with us as smooth as possible. Everyone has been so helpful with answering my questions, and it’s great to be able to talk through any queries with people face-to-face.
What’s the best day you’ve ever had at work?
When I passed my Ph.D. viva the whole office surprised me with cake and balloons. It was a total shock, as Bonnie from pre-press had been keeping me out of the kitchen all day, and Catherine from marketing then tricked me downstairs! It was amazing to feel so valued and celebrated, even though I’ve only been here a few months.
I’ve kept the balloons, but the delicious cake made by Elizabeth in editorial did not last very long at all!
Briefly outline a normal working day for you.
The first thing I do when I get into the office is open my emails. I usually spend the first 30 minutes categorising these into projects that I can respond to very quickly and those that need more time. Then I make a cup of tea and get started with the author queries. I might also spend some time on the proposals process as it is my job to record all of the circulated proposals and to ensure that all of our departments get the chance to advise on proposals. After lunch I tend to focus on ‘bigger’ projects that require lots of focus and reading. This might be preparing a manuscript for handover to pre-press, or writing notes for our marketing departments.
There’s always lots of different tasks, and sometimes I have to suddenly change what I am doing to answer an urgent queries. I like this as it keeps me busy and it means that I never really know what my day is going to look like when you come into the office.
What’s the best thing on your desk?
The best thing on my desk is my poinsettia, Gerald. Emily from pre-press, gave him to me as an early Christmas present. Not only has he survived all winter, but a few days ago I noticed that he’s growing a new shoot with new leaves on it.
What are you currently reading?
My new years’ resolution was to read more fiction. Currently, I am reading ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ which is a curious book about time travel, set in a Tokyo Café. I’m also sticking with my first love of crime – I just finished ‘My Sister the Serial Killer’ which I read in two sittings and I have Kate Summerscale’s ‘The Wicked Boy’ out from the library.
What’s your beverage of choice?
Tea. I have a beautiful mug from a pottery near where my mum lives in Devon. I collect pieces from there, and also have a cute little dish that I keep my paperclips in.
I also have a whole drawer of my filing cabinet dedicated to the different types of tea I like to drink throughout the day. And Emily and I made a tea advent calendar together over Christmas.
What’s your favourite historical novel, film or play?
One of my favourite films of all time is The Handmaiden. It is based on a Sarah Waters novel, but changes the setting from Victorian London to Korea under Japanese rule. The new setting adds another layer of tension between the characters, and the film is beautiful to look at. Plus, there is one hell of a twist which makes you question everything that you have watched up until that point.
You can choose up to four people from history to join your dinner party: who are they?
I’d like to have dinner with the people who heled Howard Carter discover the tomb of Tutankhamun nearly 100 years ago. I used to work at the home of the Earl of Carnarvon (now more famous as Downton Abbey) and I used to spend a lot of time wondering what it must have been like to witness this incredible discovery in real time.