Rebecca Swift, founder and director of The Literary Consultancy, has died.
Swift passed away peacefully on Tuesday 18th April, after a short illness.
Swift worked for seven years at Virago Press before co-founding The Literary Consultancy (TLC) together with Hannah Griffiths in 1996. The UK's first editorial consultancy for writers, its aim was to bridge the gap between writers, agents and publishers; Jenny Downham, Tina Seskis, Penny Pepper, Neamat Imam and Kerry Young are among the authors TLC has supported to publication.
Swift was also a programmer and curator, setting up the UK's first digital conference for writers in 2012, "Writing in a Digital Age", run at the Free Word Centre. She was also a published poet, and wrote a biography of Emily Dickinson, Dickinson: Poetic Lives, brought out in 2011 with Hesperus Press.
TLC's editoral services manager Aki Schilz commented: "It is with huge sadness that we say goodbye to one of the leading lights of the publishing industry. Becky was a visionary, an innovator, and a staunch and tireless defender of writers and of literary values. She was also a talented poet and librettist, a mentor, a friend, colleague, beloved daughter, partner, sister, aunt and godmother, and a true literary hero. Her compassion, joy, uninterruptable sense of mischief, and deep psychoanalytic understanding of the relationships between writers, writing and their myriad potential readerships have left an important and singular legacy from a woman who understood this changeable industry with as much intuition as she had intelligence."
Schilz added: "Becky was surrounded by loved ones in her final months and it will be of no surprise to anyone that she remained spirited to the end, insisting on lightness and song, films, and time in the gardens observing the falling cherry blossom." She also paid tribute to Swift's "extraordinary gift for friendship", and the loyalty she inspired, as evidenced by the TLC team of readers, "many of whom have been with us since the early days."
Schilz will lead TLC as its new director from May onwards. She said: "The time ahead will be challenging, but it was Becky's wish for TLC to continue, and I am honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to fulfil that wish, with the blessing of her family and the support of our incredible team: my esteemed colleague Joe Sedgwick, the Board, our brilliant readers, our regional literature development partners, and our extended TLC family of writers whose interests remain at the heart of what we do and believe in."