A good piece in this weekend’s Sunday Times of London about literary agents who chase estates with the same energy they usually exert in the pursuit of living writers. Much of it focuses on English business, but hometown hero Andrew Wylie is at center stage, partly because he recently landed the estates of Nabokov, Waugh, and Bolano.
The author of the piece, Ed Caesar, suggests that the reason Mr. Wylie wanted Waugh on his list so badly was that he thought it might serve as good bait for Graham Greene’s people since Greene and Waugh were friends and admirers of each others’ work. Mr. Caesar didn’t get a yes or no from Mr. Wylie when he asked him whether this was indeed the plan. “The way we see it is that the writers and estates we represent are like a spider’s web,” Wylie said instead. “They all have connections. And you have to be equally attentive to everyone, whether they are worth £8,000 a year or £800,000.”
When Caesar went back on him with the Greene question, Wylie said, “Of course… I’m particularly interested in Graham Greene.”
Wylie also has a nice quote in the piece in which he compares taking over an estate to cleaning up a room:
“Many estates, when they come to us, have been neglected. The foreign rights, for instance, are spottily managed. And we take care of a lot of small problems on an international basis: that’s the specialité de la maison. It’s like walking into a house that hasn’t been cleaned in a decade. We strip the bed, put on new sheets, fluff up the pillows, clean the kitchen – and suddenly the house increases in value.”