On 14th June 2017, the Grenfell Tower fire, a tragic event, shook the nation. Whilst the response from the establishment has had many discrepancies, the reaction from the public has been admirable, an indication that good does indeed remain within humanity.
Two days later, on Friday 16th, Harriet Reuter Hapgood (author of "poignant" novel The Square Root of Summer) was on a train out of London composing an email to UKYA (UK Young Adult) authors she knew about what they could do to help - donate books? An auction? It seemed Molly Ker Hawn (an agent at The Bent Agency who works alongside Harriet's agent, Gemma Cooper) had had the same thoughts, tweeting something similar. They caught up and suggested collaboration.
The results were inspiring, they managed to set up a website, email, spreadsheet and wish list of authors. Within an hour, Sara Barnard (bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things) had pledged her support.
By Monday morning the site was up and running with approximately 30 lots on the site, and they began to watch in awe as it grew. Lucy Mangan and Caitlin Moran contributed their support and the site was inundated with emails, with Philip Pullman himself reaching out.
"I was shocked and couldn't stop thinking about it. Particularly how, after someone you love dies, their things can be such a comfort - mementoes and photos and sentimental items. And the survivors of Grenfell who lost someone in the tragedy won't even have that," said Harriet.
"I knew about previous author auctions, such as Authors for Philippines: https://authorsforphilippines.wordpress.com/ and wondered what the writing community could do this time."
Authors Philip Pullman and David Walliams, photographer Rankin and film star Stanley Tucci have all joined the Authors for Grenfell Tower online auction, raising money for the British Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund.
Pullman is offering the chance to name a character in his highly-anticipated novel, The Book of Dust, Part Two, while bids are up to £10,000 on afternoon tea with Walliams. Tucci will sign his cookbook to the highest bidder, and one lucky winner will have a photo shoot with Rankin himself.
Beloved children's author Judith Kerr is signing The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Lauren Graham, best known as Gilmore Girls' Lorelai Gilmore, has donated signed copies of her New York Times-bestselling memoir. Jessie Burton will sign and illustrate her award-winning novel The Miniaturist. And there's even a prop from Black Mirror.
Also up for grabs are signed books, original manuscripts, school visits and editorial critiques from leading agents and editors at publishing houses including Bloomsbury, Macmillan and Penguin Random House. More unusual items include playing alongside the Authors XI cricket team or conducting an orchestra.
Launched last Monday with just a Twitter hashtag by literary agent Molly Ker Hawn and authors Harriet Reuter Hapgood and Sara Barnard, the site picked up an astonishing 55,000 visitors in five days. The volunteer admin team includes bestselling authors and a former staff member of auction house Christie's.
Reuter Hapgood says: "The publishing community has been astonishingly generous in donating time, money and resources to benefit the survivors and families of Grenfell Tower, I think because, like Molly, Sara and me, they're shocked and angry at how these people have been failed and abandoned by the state."
The way in which the writing community has come together is moving, beautiful even. Get involved now.
With so much up for grabs from the likes of Matt Haig, Holly Bourne, Malorie Blackman and other renowned writers, college application counselling, coaching sessions, original manuscripts, mentoring and more, this is a great opportunity to meet or receive something from one of your favourite writers whilst supporting an honourable cause in the process.
Image via authorsforgrenfelltower.com