Who's Who

Neil Astley with Bloodaxe chair Professor Linda Anderson in the Bloodaxe archive at Newcastle University.


Editor & Managing Director: Neil Astley

Neil Astley founded Bloodaxe Books in 1978 after graduating from Newcastle University. He received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry in 1982, and was given an honorary D.Litt by Newcastle University for his work with Bloodaxe in 1995. He has published two poetry collections and two novels, The End of My Tether (Flambard, 2002; Scribner, 2003), shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award, and The Sheep Who Changed the World (Flambard, 2005), and over twenty anthologies, notably the Staying Alive series, and three collaborations with Pamela Robertson-Pearce, Soul Food (2007), and the DVD-books In Person: 30 Poets (2008) and In Person: World Poets (2017). He is a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University and a patron of Ledbury Poetry Festival (after many years as a trustee), and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.


Christine Macgregor (left), Rebecca Hodkinson (centre) and Suzanne Fairless-Aitken in the Hexham office.


Publicity Director: Christine Macgregor

Based at Hexham, Christine Macgregor joined Bloodaxe as Publicity Manager in January 1998, becoming Publicity Director in 2021. She was previously Sales & Rights Manager for the London-based illustrated book publisher Laurence King, responsible for selling translation rights within Europe as well as overseeing publicity, booktrade sales and distribution. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in Russian, she worked as an interpreter for the Bolshoi Ballet during their UK tour.


Rights Manager: Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Dr Suzanne Fairless-Aitken has been Rights Manager at Bloodaxe since 2004. She studied at Newcastle University, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on Hyenas in scarlet petticoats: re-dressing the heroine in the novels of the Brontës, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. She has also been a tutor in English Literature at Newcastle University and for the Open University, and is a Hexham Town and Northumberland County councillor as well as a school governor. She handles Bloodaxe's rights and permissions work from the Hexham office.


Prizes/Publicity/Administration: Rebecca Hodkinson

Rebecca Hodkinson has been with Bloodaxe since 2003. She is responsible for literary prizes, assists with publicity and handles office administration at Hexham. She previously worked as feature writer for a business publisher based a number of floors below Bloodaxe in a cavernous Newcastle Quayside building (she never found their office). After graduating with a degree in Film and Media at Stirling University she worked in radio as a researcher, and then as a journalist in magazine publishing and public relations.


Digital & Marketing Manager: Peter Hebden

Peter Hebden joined Bloodaxe in 2022 as Digital and Marketing Manager. He previously worked with Bloodaxe as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Newcastle University, developing our ebooks with audio and devising the Bloodaxe Poetry mobile app, which launched in 2018. He completed his Newcastle University PhD on the digital remediation of contemporary poetry in 2021, in partnership with Bloodaxe Books, funded by the AHRC/Northern Bridge. He also works with the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts on their programme of events and is part of the Newcastle Poetry Festival team.


Alias Smith and Jones: Jean Smith (left) and Bethan Jones in the Bala office.


Finance Director: Bethan Jones

Bethan Jones joined Bloodaxe as Finance Manager in 2005, becoming Finance Director in 2021. She has an honours degree in Agriculture and Business Studies from Aberystwyth University and is also qualified in accounting (AAT). Part of a farming family tracing its roots back to the Battle of Bosworth – which is closely involved with the Welsh Black Cattle Society – Bethan helps out with Bala’s local Welsh-language weekly newspaper and is also clerk to two parish councils and is active in several community associations.


Sales & Royalties: Jean Smith

Jean Smith joined Bloodaxe in 2008 as maternity cover for Bethan Jones at the Bala office, staying on to cover administration, sales and royalties. She had previously worked as a tax officer as well as owning and running various businesses including a greengrocers and florist shop, a guest house, a fish and chip shop, and – for 17 years – a riding centre. For the past 20 years she has also been involved with property development. She is a member of MENSA.






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