Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dear Lord Pearson

Last week a form letter arrived in my letterbox. It came from the Auckland-based New Zealand branch of Pearson Education, the giant international publisher which states on its website that it is "the world's leading education company. From pre-school to high school, early learning to professional certification, our curriculum materials, multimedia learning tools and testing programmes help to educate millions of people worldwide - more than any other private enterprise."
        The letter confirmed that Pearson's education business in New Zealand - that is, its substantial local education publishing operation - will close at the end of August. It ended, "For further information, please contact [name of unfortunate staffer given this task] at [email address]."
         I used to work as an editor for this company, back in the days when it was no longer Longman Paul, just Longman. But I never wrote books for it, and the letter was not addressed to me. Here's what I wrote in reply:

Dear ... Lord Pearson [I didn't write that, but I wanted to]
Thank you for your information about Pearson closing down its New Zealand education business. I already knew this, but it is very sad news, both for Pearson's talented and loyal staff, and for New Zealand education. Evidently Pearson no longer sees the production of specific resources for New Zealand
schools as worth doing.
        My husband, Harvey McQueen, was a pioneer in creating anthologies of New Zealand poetry for New Zealand schools and had a very long association with Pearson and its predecessors, right back to the days of Longman Paul (though there was, of course, no mention of this in the form letter addressed to him,
and headed "Media External Stakeholder Statement").
         Harvey died on 25 December 2010. Your royalties department knows this, because it has since been paying his royalties to me as his widow. I would prefer not to receive any more letters addressed to Harvey years after his death. As I'm sure you will appreciate, this is distressing. Could you therefore please ensure that this information is clearly recorded in every list of authors kept by Pearson, so that it does not happen again.

Yours sincerely
Anne Else

In fact, except for the occasional royalty statement, I don't expect to hear from Pearson ever again. But after writing this letter, I felt better.


  1. Good on you! It would have made me feel better too. "Media External Stakeholder Statement" indeed. I deal with the educational arm of Pearson in my job and it is generally an unpleasant experience.

  2. Good for you Anne. My sister worked for Pearson Education but luckily she retired when she saw the changes happening. It used to be such a good place to work and she produced some wonderful books for schools. It's distressing and annoying when organisations don't change their records after someone has died. Heartless too.