Myriad has grown organically from a packager of infographic atlases to a publisher of literary fiction, graphic novels and feminist nonfiction.
The company was set up in 1993 by the late Anne Benewick, formerly an editor at Pluto Press, and the Hong Kong-based campaigning physician Judith Mackay OBE. Anne had commissioned Judith to produce The State of Health Atlas, the latest in a series of geopolitical atlases, when that publisher went into liquidation. Faced with the prospect of months of wasted work, Judith suggested setting up their own publishing company. Audacity and tenacity made for robust first principles and Myriad was founded. Their vision, together with the pioneering combination of radical cartography and expert analysis, paved the way for today’s infographics. The flagship titles are now established classics: the 10th edition of The State of the World Atlas, by leading international peace researcher Dan Smith OBE, was published in 2020 and the latest edition of Joni Seager’s The Women’s Atlas was flagged by Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, as ‘the most important book’ published in 2018.
Myriad started publishing under its own imprint in 2005, with Publishing Director Candida Lacey at the helm. The company had recently moved from London to Brighton, and we saw the opportunity to celebrate the city and the many writers and artists who come to see the sea – and decided to stay. Our first publication was The Brighton Book, a mixed-media anthology of fiction, reportage, photography and graphics. We commissioned original work from established authors, including Jeanette Winterson, Meg Rosoff and Nigella Lawson, and added new names into the mix. We went on to publish three of the featured debut authors: novelists Martine McDonagh and Lesley Thomson as well as Woodrow Phoenix’s first graphic novel, Rumble Strip (‘An utterly original work of genius’, as Jon McGregor proclaimed in The Times).
These books formed the basis and the rationale for our publishing strategy: to seek out home-grown talent and launch the careers of new writers from Brighton and beyond. With a small grant from the Arts Council in 2009, and again in 2011, Myriad was able to focus on uncovering and nurturing emerging authors.