Felicity Bryan, chair and founder of Felicity Bryan Associates, has decided to step back from day-to-day involvement with the agency, as she is being treated for stomach cancer.
Bryan was made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours this year, in recognition of her contribution to publishing over the last 48 years. She set up her own agency in Oxford in 1988, having previously worked at Curtis Brown.
She retires on what the agency described was "a professional high". Not only did the agency have a bumper year last year—with three authors shortlisted for the Costa, winners of the James Tait Black, Hawthornden and Wellcome Prizes, and two French prizes—but in April, despite the impact of Covid-19 on the publishing industry, two of her authors’ books, Catherine Belton’s Putin’s People and Sue Stuart-Smith’s The Well-Gardened Mind, hit the Sunday Times non-fiction bestseller list. Bryan in recent months also completed a number of book deals for longstanding clients of the agency, including a new collection of Rosamunde Pilcher’s vintage short stories and seeing prize-winning author Sue Prideaux’s new biography of Gauguin signed with Faber.
The agency said in a statement: "From the outset her entrepreneurial spirit and international outlook have ensured that rights in her clients’ books have sold in territories all over the world. Among her many global successes have been Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, and Mary Berry’s many bestselling books. She has always loved the buzz and business of the Frankfurt and London book fairs, where she has made firm and loyal friendships with a huge range of international publishers and agents. She has also enjoyed combining her frequent visits to the publishing houses of New York and London with many, many parties and trips to her beloved ballet and opera. She has built steadily on the early success of her agency, and it is now 11-strong, with five agents and six administrative staff."
It said further of the agency's plans for succession: "Felicity has planned for her succession and for the future management of Felicity Bryan Associates for many years, with shared ownership by her colleagues Catherine Clarke, as m.d., and Caroline Wood and now Carrie Plitt as directors; Sally Holloway has been an associate agent since 2003. Her long-time colleagues Michele Topham, who manages contracts and sub-rights, and Carole Robinson, the agency accounts manager, will continue to run the administrative side of the company and have recruited a talented team of new staff to support them as the agency continues to flourish."
For further information, Clarke can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.