Doreen Montgomery, the “remarkable” chairman of the literary agency Rupert Crew Ltd, has died aged 89 following a seven-decade career in the trade.
Her daughter, Caroline Montgomery, m.d. of Rupert Crew agency, revealed that she had died suddenly on 26th November. Although her later years were marked by serious health issues, “her energy and spirit were indomitable” and “the loss to the Rupert Crew family is incalculable,” said Caroline Montgomery. One of Doreen's authors, zoologist Mark Carwardine, paid tribute to her as the “most sensational person to have on your side” and a “true force of nature”. Her clients included Dame Barbara Cartland and Sir Cecil Beaton.
On completing a secretarial course at Pitman’s College, Doreen initially considered journalism, but joined F Rupert Crew, then based in Bloomsbury, as a teenager in the belief that it "might open other doors".
Caroline Montgomery said: “For all her conventionality, my mother was a very remarkable woman… It was her father who spotted the advertisement for a secretary in a literary agency and suggested it might open other doors into newspapers, but I doubt that either of them gave a thought to the fact that it would lead to a career lasting an astonishing 73 years.
“Her job as secretary to F Rupert Crew changed significantly when he retired to Kent and she took over the reins of the agency, assisted by her fellow director Shirley Russell, dividing the business between them, with Doreen handling all the non-fiction projects and Shirley the fiction.”
Crew began the agency as the Author’s Advisory Service initially before its name changed in 1947. Doreen and Russell ran the agency following Crew's retirement until Russell died from breast cancer in 1994. Caroline joined the company in 1993 and 17 years later it moved offices to north London.
Doreen's author areas covered a "myriad" of subject areas including astrology, zoology, parenting, craft, biography, history, true crime and MBS.
Caroline revealed that her mother rarely took holidays so that she could support her authors as much as possible and that there was “never any hint” of retirement.
“She often joked that she would probably drop dead over her typewriter and that pretty much proved to be the case. She worked right up to the end – even sorting out copy for checking on the day she died.”
Long-time client, historian and astrologer, Nicholas Campion described Doreen as “ever-charming, unflappable and supremely competent” and someone he thought would be "immortal". He said: “I think she still is, for everyone who benefited from the example she set of honesty and high principle.
“Doreen became, as I am sure she was to many of her clients, a ‘mother’, who I could rely on at every turn for every aspect of my writing career.”
Carwardine described Doreen as “my literary agent and friend for 34 years”.
He said: “She very kindly signed me up as a young and naïve 24-year-old and, over the years, tirelessly helped to bring dozens of books to fruition
“A true force of nature, with a lifelong enthusiasm for books, writers and publishing, with no qualms about telling it how it was, she was the most sensational person to have on your side. She was also scrupulously honest, totally unselfish, unfailingly loyal, and had the biggest, kindest heart imaginable.”
Carwardine added: “I will miss her terribly.”
The funeral will be held at Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium in Holders Hill Road, North West London, at 12.30pm on Monday 18th December. Family flowers only but donations in Doreen's memory may be made to either The North London Hospice or Resources for Autism. A celebration of her life will be held next year.