Hundreds of people from across the publishing industry gathered last night (1st May) to celebrate 30 years of Rogers, Coleridge and White (RCW).
The literary agency marked the milestone with a party in the 18th century former church, The Tabernacle in London’s Notting Hill, with a capacity of 400. Authors such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Caitlin Moran and Johann Hari attended the party along with publishing stalwarts including Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page and Picador publisher Paul Baggaley.
Nobel Prize-winning Ishiguro paid tribute to the company which has represented him over several decades and discussed how it has recovered from the loss of late literary agent and chair of RCW Deborah Rogers, who died five years ago, and director David Miller, who died in 2016.
Ishiguro said: “Our agency has had to accommodate with upheavals and changes, even when dealing with the pain of these huge losses. It’s been heartening to see the team’s resilience, to see how each person within it has pulled together and responded in a spirited and forward-looking way. The leadership and sensitive strength of Gill Coleridge throughout this period have been remarkable and inspiring.”
RCW m.d. Peter Straus emphasised the importance of championing books across the industry in his speech. “Although agents are often a disparate and maverick group, all the agents are proud to work at RCW and all appreciate the cumulative power of singing off the same hymn sheet,” he said. “We support each other’s authors and books and celebrate the successes. I’ve always thought that just as there is no end to how many copies one can press into the hands of readers, there ought to be no limit to the number of advocates for great books and that concerted effort can bring terrific results.”
Gill Coleridge, chair of RCW, described how Rogers “absolutely loved parties and would have thoroughly approved of The Tabernacle”. She also spoke of how Rogers’ legacy had led to the Deborah Rogers Foundation which awards £10,000 annually to a young person in publishing (rotating every year between a rights professional and an author).
“It’s a terribly rewarding thing, it’s lovely giving away money and so it’s just very exciting to do something for young people in the business,” Coleridge said. “That was Deborah’s absolute key, was helping young people and young writers and in our very early days we used to give people hand-outs from petty cash but we don’t do that anymore.”
Rogers’ nurturing of young talent had also paved the way for how RCW progressed its own staff, Coleridge said. “The exciting thing is… we’ve had young assistants who’ve grown into extremely talented agents and we’ve brought on spectacularly good agents from other places and it’s been wonderful to see RCW growing in breadth, stature and significance, expanding into different markets and reaching out ever more widely overseas.”
Coleridge finished her speech by paying tribute to Straus and the agency’s authors themselves. She said: “Since becoming chairman five years ago I’ve seen the agency grow and go from strength-to-strength under the leadership of Peter Straus. We’ve had fantastic success both at home and abroad and our biggest thanks go to you, our authors. Without you we wouldn’t be who we are, you define us, give us wonderful books and we love representing you so thank you.”