Literary agent Gloria Ferris dies

Literary agent Gloria Ferris dies

Gloria Ferris, the former London literary agent behind Scott Ferris Associates, has died aged 84.

She died after a short illness in Swansea, a few miles from her childhood home, on Tuesday (3rd October). 

Ferris' literary career spanned more than 50 years. She worked for Doubleday from the late 1960s, taking over from Barbara Noble as London rights manager in the mid-1970s, where she sold rights on behalf of a wide range of authors, both established and unknown, to publishers at home and abroad, developing a reputation for being "a tough yet persuasive saleswoman".

By 1980 she was managing director working at Quartet Books, whose owner, Naim Attallah, who once said: "I have always admired Julian Barnes as a writer of immense talent, and when I became a publisher one of my first acts was to issue his first novel in paperback, thanks to Gloria Ferris who was editorial director at Quartet."

She set up the London literary agency, Scott Ferris Associates, with the former literary editor of the Sunday Telegraph, Rivers Scott, after the pair met in 1981. They ran it together until his death, aged 92, in May 2014.

During this time, Ferris and Scott sold an eclectic range of fiction and non-fiction for such authors as the polar biographer Roland Huntford, the film encyclopaedian Leslie Halliwell, the Attorney General Peter Rawlinson, the broadcaster Ned Sherrin, the Olympic runner Steve Ovett and the historian Trevor Royle, who wrote that for 25 years he had "a fruitful relationship with Gloria as his literary agent".

Antonia Owen, publisher at Peter Owen Publishers, commented: "Gloria was my first boss in publishing at Doubleday. I worked for her from 1977 to 1978 as her rights assistant in Wigmore Street, and she remained a close friend to my father Peter Owen – to whom she sold a number of books – and to me. I visited her at her home in Swansea, where she died after a stay in hospital, just three weeks ago. I will genuinely miss her entertaining company, her decisiveness, common sense, down-to-earth advice and all."

Nick Kent, managing director for Peter Owen Publishers, said in a statement, co-written with Ferris' family: "Not only had she a reputation as a formidable publishing agent, she was a wonderful friend, an excellent host, cook and dining companion ... She will be greatly missed by her family and many friends."

Ferris is survived by a son, Jonathan, a daughter, Virginia, and five grandchildren.