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Messages

This page is for messages that anyone who knew Penny wishes to contribute to her memory. Please send contributions to this email address including your name, any relevent details and your message to be posted here.

 

'One of the kindest, warmest, smartest women I had the good fortune to know.'
Fay Jones

'Have been remembering nuclear-strength coffee and Penny laughing her head off at me swimming in a sea of wagging tales and dog lick. Visiting your house in Lakenham was a lot of fun'.
Martin Cook

'Penny was a wonderful human being. Her exceptional publishing skills combined with her reliability, intelligence and friendly approach made every interaction with her a pleasure. The world of academic publishing, and the world generally will be diminished by the loss of her.'
Isobel Munday

'I met Penny only through words not face to face and yet that encounter felt as vivid as delightful, as engaged as any meeting in the flesh.
Perhaps in part because how gorgeously, masterfully she knew words, their shape and contour, how deftly she made them behave, show themselves to their best. So modest yet so generous as she quietly shaped sentences, paragraphs, pages making them clearer, stronger, better. But also because her character, her humour her sense of adventure, her intelligence her vigour for life radiated through every email. Even the most mundane email was a treat to open – there was always some little treat within it – a description of a walk, a fragment of a story.'
Helen Paris

'Working with her was a highlight of my professional life, and she certainly was one of the very rare people whose work emails I eagerly looked forward to reading as they were always full of brilliant close observations about life and writing tempered with hilarious gags about Scotland, dogs, CIRCA, and a host of other extraordinarily diverse reference points. Never has work been so heartwarming and so engaging.'
James Frieze

'I was very sad to hear the news of Penny's passing. I'd like to add my acknowledgment of her work, which appears in my American Unculture in French Drama: 'I'm grateful to my copyeditor, Penny Simmons, for her light-hearted and level-headed approach to such a daunting project. Over the several months that we worked together, I came to feel that we were old friends.'
Les Essif

'Penny was the copy editor for two of my books: Theatre of the Real and Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. Of course Penny not only copy-edited but she also read the books on which she worked. She corresponded with me about her thoughts on the Israeli Palestinian conflict after reading a chapter of my book on My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play that features that conflict. When sending back chapters for approval she would always note what she found interesting. Her kind words about my writing were always well chosen making me feel that they were a prize not offered lightly. And they were!

So without ever having met Penny I feel as if I knew her. Such was her ability to relate her thoughts via email ... a difficult medium in which to have a soul, but Penny did. She lives in our thoughts and in the traces of her existence we find in our words.'
Carol Martin

'Penny worked as copy editor on a popular philosophy book that I wrote with another author (Julian Baggini). I found her extremely professional and competent, but also – although I only dealt with her via email – very warm and friendly. Just re-reading our brief correspondence now, I can see we chatted about various things outside the work (the weather, bird feeding). She seemed like a lovely person.
Gareth Southwell

'I am so very sorry to hear this news. Despite never having met her face to face, one of the joys of working with her was that she made me feel that I had because of the personality that shone through her words and the flourishes of detail she would add to colour her messages. Every email would have a reference to her home life, the garden, the particular light of a particular day. Not only did this divulge a sense of Penny, the person, but it also took the grind out of the task of proofing and ensured it remained an important and creative element in the writing process. You may or may not know that, having worked with Penny on previous edited collections, I specifically requested her and no other to support the final stages of my most recent monograph.

Her death is a sad loss to the publishing world ...and a reminder to myself to notice the precious in the everyday, as Penny did.'
Josephine Machon

'I had just spoken very highly of Penny a few weeks ago in a conversation with Jenny McCall from Palgrave and made it almost a condition that Jen would assign her as the copy-editor of my next two book projects with them. Having so successfully worked with Penny on Fleeting Cities and Imagining Outer Space I could simply not envision anyone else.

Both of us love words and meticulousness, and that made us work so exceptionally well together. At some point Penny explained to me that copy-editors were the kings and queens of the book publication process and it proved entirely true: she was the Queen. This is what I referred to when I wrote in the acknowledgments to Fleeting Cities: "During the final production stages, Penny Simmons was as congenial and meticulous as any queenly copy-editor should be." Unfortunately, we have never had the chance to meet in real life but I will still miss her enormously, now and in the future.'
Alexander Geppert

'I didn't have a great deal of direct contact with Penny, but there was never any doubt that she had a very special combination of skills.  Copy-editing is a relationship and it requires sensitivity and imagination like any other, plus a complete absence of ego.  She understood that better than most.  There were times when we would have happily cloned her, as we sized up projects where only she would do. She generated immense affection amongst those who worked with her – surely a direct response to the care she showed them.'
Catherine Gray

'On behalf of everyone at Palgrave I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family. It will not come as news to you to know that we were all well aware of how outstanding Penny was as an editor and how fortunate we were to have her work on our books. Many authors thought the world of her. Indeed, Paula's assistant has let me know that they are continuing to ask for her. She will be much missed.'
Jonathan Lewis
 
'I am so sorry to hear this sad news about Penny's death, and offer my sincere condolences to her husband Peter and family and friends. I worked with Penny for many years on the Theatre books, and she was always my number one choice of copyeditor for the list: without fail, authors loved working with her and I'd often get new authors specifically asking to work with Penny because theyd heard such fantastic things from their colleagues who had worked with her, and it was clear to everyone how much she enjoyed working on the books and learnt from them. I was pleased to meet Penny a few years ago properly at a launch for a book by Alan Read, which had been a challenging job for her due to the author's dense writing and particular quirks. She not only improved the book through her work to it, but ensured Alan had such an enjoyable experience working with her on it that she was a special guest at the launch and I remember Alan extolling her skills on the night. She will be sorely missed, particularly by the Theatre academic community who had the pleasure and benefit of working with her on their own projects.'
Paula Kennedy

'When I think of our online conversations with Penny I think of generosity, kindness, curiosity and intelligence.
Penny held our words in her hands, shook them up a little and always offered a finer solution.
She was there to carry the weight of writing with us. She lightened our load. She held our writing hands.
Penny's gestures linger on.
Gretchen Schiller and Sarah Rubidge

Penny's emails would always brighten up a dull day at work, she was my favourite copy editor/proof reader and even when things weren't going to plan she would still have an upbeat tone to her phone calls and emails. You could always trust her judgement and I feel blessed to have known her. The stories of her lovely dogs always made me smile, in fact she always made me smile no matter what. 
A lovely lady who will be greatly missed by many.
Tina Graham
(former Production Editor at Palgrave)

I was one of those authors who insisted on having Penny produce my work, as I knew that there would be no problems at all and the whole working relationship would be pleasant, enjoyable and rewarding. She did a brilliant job and did so in ways that meant all contact with her was enriching. I never met Penny face to face and yet I still considered her a friend and a good one at that. What an incredible loss.
Dr Neil Thompson

 

The music playing is 'My Heart Will Go On' by Davy Spillane.