Jamie Byng

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Jamie Byng
Born James Edmund Byng
(1969-06-27) 27 June 1969 (age 45)
Abbots Worthy, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Education Winchester College
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Occupation Literary publisher
Spouse(s) Whitney McVeigh 1996-2001
Elizabeth Sheinkman (m. 2005)
Children 4

The Honourable James Edmund "Jamie" Byng (born 27 June 1969)[1][2] is an English literary publisher. He is the managing director for the Edinburgh-based independent publishing firm Canongate Books since 1994.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Byng grew up in the village of Abbots Worthy in Hampshire. He is the second son of the 8th Earl of Strafford and Jennifer May, brother to the author Lady Georgia Byng, and through his stepfather, Sir Christopher Bland, the former Chairman of the BBC, British Telecom and Royal Shakespeare Company, he is the half-brother of print journalist and now Deputy Editor of The Independent newspaper, Archie Bland.[4]

Byng was educated at Winchester College, a boarding independent school for boys in the cathedral city of Winchester in Hampshire, Southern England. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh.


After graduating from university, he convinced Scottish publisher Stephanie Wolfe Murray to give him a job at Canongate, then a respected but still somewhat marginalised Scottish company founded in 1973. When Canongate was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1994, Byng, then in his mid-20s, instigated a buyout, aided by his business partner Hugh Andrew, his stepfather (former BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland) and then father-in-law (co-chairman of the multinational investment bank Salomon Smith Barney). His first move in overhauling the company’s image was to establish the ultra hip Payback and Rebel Inc imprints, dedicated to championing cult authors. The Pocket Canons (1998) published in partnership with Matthew Darby was Byng's first runaway success: selected books from the Bible individually packaged with new introductions by the Dalai Lama among others. In the wake of the two-million selling, Booker-winning Life Of Pi, Canongate won Publisher Of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2003, reportedly posting pre-tax profits of more than £1 million for that year.

Byng is the initiator and Chair of World Book Night, an event in which on 5 March 2011 (following World Book Day on 3 March) one million books - 40,000 copies of each of 25 carefully selected titles - were given away to members of the public in the UK and Ireland. It entailed 20,000 "givers" each distributing 48 copies of their chosen title to whomever they choose.[5]

In 2013, Byng launched the performance event Letters Live.[6]

Personal life[edit]

While attending university, Byng ran a funk, reggae and rare groove night club named "Chocolate City" (after the Parliament classic) at The Venue with his first wife artist Whitney McVeigh whom he married in 1996.[7] They have two children - a daughter Marley and son Leo.[8][9] Byng and McVeigh divorced in 2001.

Byng married American literary agent Elizabeth Sheinkman in 2005. The couple has two children, Ivy and Nathaniel.[10]


External links[edit]