The Stationers’ Company is to appoint its first female Master in a history that stretches back more than 600 years.
Helen Esmonde will take over from incumbent Ian Locks next month.
Esmonde is publishing director at Esmonde Publishing, an educational publishing and stationery business that became part of GMC Publications in 2012.
She has been a Stationer since 2004 and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
She told PrintWeek: "I am very excited about taking on this role but also conscious of the 612 years of history of the Stationers' Company that have gone before and the challenges that lie ahead. I shall try to serve the Company wholeheartedly.
"We have a talented and energetic membership and can provide an excellent platform for discussion, debate and the encouragement of innovation in our industries. We can also make a difference to future outcomes for the young people involved in our educational projects."
Esmonde will formally take over from Locks on 7 July.
Locks said: "It's absolutely fantastic and high time. Not that we haven't tried to attract lady Masters in the past, but for various reasons it didn't work out. Helen is the perfect choice and I'm sure she will be excellent in the role."
He added: "I will be a punctuation mark in history, the last in that unbroken male line."
At the Stationers’ Annual Committees’ Lunch yesterday (15 June), Locks outlined a number of aspects of the Company that he believed made it “special” including Stationers’ Hall and its beautiful garden.
But above all he highlighted the dedication of its members and volunteers. “Unseen, are so many people who are prepared to put their shoulders to the wheel, to give up their ideas, time and talent. That’s who makes the Company so special,” he said.
The Stationers’ guild was originally established in 1403. The name originates from the craftsmen manuscript writers and illuminators of the day who set up their stalls, or 'stations', around St Paul’s Cathedral.