Christopher Little, the agent who launched J K Rowling's career, has died at the age of 79.
He died at home surrounded by his family on 7th January following a long illness, Curtis Brown president Jonathan Lloyd said.
Little set up his own literary agency in 1979 after successfully finding a publisher for his friend Philip Nicholson's book Man on Fire, writing under the pseudonym A J Quinnell. The agency quickly grew and, by 1992, represented around 20 authors.
In 1995 he received the first three chapters of Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and went on to represent her. According to Little, every UK publisher turned the book down, except for the fledgling children's department at Bloomsbury, which bought the book for just £2,500.
The Harry Potter books turned Rowling into a superstar but the pair parted company in 2011 when the author followed Little's agent Neil Blair to his new agency.
A year later, Little's agency became affiliated with Curtis Brown. Its authors have included Janet Gleeson, Cathy Hopkins, Carol Hughes, Gen Sir Mike Jackson, Philip Kazan, Erin Kinsley, Pippa Mattinson, Robert Mawson, Bruce McCabe, Kate McCann, Robert Radcliffe, Darren Shan, Wladyslaw Szpilman, Pip Vaughan Hughes and Anne Zouroudi.
Lloyd said: "It is with deep regret that we can confirm that Christopher Little died last Thursday after bravely battling a long illness. He died at home surrounded by his close family. He was a wonderful man who will be very sadly missed.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Gilly, sons Kim (and his wife Emma who worked with Chris for 25 years) and Nicholas as well as Chris’s PA of 18 years Jules."
Lloyd said Little had ensured some time ago that all his clients were co-represented by a designated Curtis Brown agent so they could move over to the other agency in the event of his death.
He explained: "In anticipation of his death, Chris had been working in association with Curtis Brown so that there would be a seamless transfer of representation for all his clients at the Christopher Little Literary Agency, which is now in place."