Mr Steerpike was last night invited to the launch of Esme Kerr’s debut novel at Daunt’s in Holland Park. The author herself was nowhere to be seen.

The organisers of the launch, journalists Emily Bearn and Claudia Fitzherbert, were as uncertain as Mr S as to Kerr’s whereabouts. ‘She’s definitely here somewhere. Look there she is,’ proclaimed Fitzherbert, pointing to Bearn who was also scanning the room for the elusive Esme. Mr Steerpike suspected some rum goings-on.

Despite Kerr’s mysterious absence, the party was a great success. Several stalwarts of this parish attended: former Spectator editor Alexander Chancellor, journalist Mary Killen and biographer Piers Paul Read.

The Glass Bird Girl is a retro tale of a boarding school designed to keep the modern world at bay. It is the latest children’s novel to be picked up by Barry Cunningham at Chicken House. JK Rowling once credited her success to Cunningham, saying ‘if it wasn’t for Barry Cunningham, Harry Potter might still be languishing in his cupboard under the stairs. I doubt any of the writers with whom he has worked could be more grateful to him.’

The novel is the first in a series set to ignite the imaginations of children and teenagers alike. But not as much so as those who attended the launch and were left bewildered as to the real Esme Kerr, who ‘only comes alive when writing.’

Tags: Alexander Chancellor, J.K. Rowling, party, publishing, Spectator