The Blake Friedmann Agency has launched the Carole Blake Open Doors Project in memory of the “beloved” agent, who died suddenly in October.
The programme will encourage candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry. It will offer six days of work shadowing to a selected applicant over a two-week period, including funding for travel and four nights’ accommodation in London. Applicants from various backgrounds are being encouraged to apply, including those who have not been to college or university (like Blake), those from low income families, those from BAME backgrounds, and those who live outside the London.
Despite growing up in a house with few books, Blake left school at the age of 16 with hopes of becoming a librarian. She found a job as secretary at George Rainbird Publishing before moving to Michael Joseph in 1970, joining Sphere Publishing in 1975 before founding her own literary agency which merged with Julian Friedmann in 1982 to create the Blake Friedmann Agency.
Isobel Dixon, a director of the Blake Friedmann agency, said the name of the Open Doors Project was inspired by a Facebook post written by Francesca Main, editorial director at Picador and former Blake Friedmann intern, who said after Blake’s death: “Carole didn't just leave the door on the latch – she flung it wide open, ushered you inside, poured you a glass of champagne and introduced you to everyone in the room.”
Dixon said: “Carole was always the epitome of openness and inclusivity in her approach to publishing and naming our diversity/inclusivity internship after her seems a perfect salute in recognition of those qualities. All of us who work at Blake Friedmann experienced Carole’s incredibly warm welcome from the start, and hope to extend that welcome to others in the same way. When I read Francesca Main’s Facebook post after Carole’s untimely death – a beautiful tribute to Carole which includes the quote at the header of our release – the image of the open door was so powerful, and colleagues are unanimous about this being such a fitting name.”
The programme will run a couple of times a year and include close mentorship with Blake Friedmann’s book agents, the opportunity to attend selected meetings with editors and clients, and the chance to get involved at ground level with every aspect of day-to-day life as an agent.
Dixon said candidates would come away from the project with “varied knowledge of working for a leading literary agency, the beginnings of new and essential relationships in the publishing industry, and some excellent experience to include on their CVs”.