Harry Potter and the furious feud: Rowling banishes her literary agent
After 16 years, man behind author's first deal will miss new chapter of e-book millions
When the literary agent Christopher Little signed up an unknown writer, Joanne Rowling, in 1995, she was newly divorced, living in a one-bedroom Edinburgh flat, and had a six-month-old daughter to take care of. He secured the Harry Potter scribe a six-figure book deal and transformed her into a literary superstar. Both made a fortune. Now their fairytale partnership has come to a crashing conclusion.
Mr Little, 69, is considering legal action against Ms Rowling, whose books have sold almost half a billion copies, after it emerged that the author has defected to a new literary agency, The Blair Partnership, set up by Mr Little's former business partner Neil Blair.
Because Mr Blair is a lawyer, and not a conventional literary agent, industry sources have speculated that Ms Rowling, 45, is to take greater control of her publishing interests. Last month it was announced that Ms Rowling's new website, Pottermore, will take control of the distribution of her Potter e-book range when it launches in November.
Mr Little's spokesman said: "It came out of the blue. He was surprised to say the least. He has contracts in place with [Ms Rowling], and he has contracts in place with Neil. He is still considering his options."
Mr Little was the second agent to whom Ms Rowling wrote when trying to get the first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, published. "I didn't know anything about agents but I went to the library and looked up some addresses," said Ms Rowling in a 1997 interview. "I remember getting a letter back. I assumed it was a rejection note, but inside the envelope was a letter saying: 'Thank you. We would be pleased to receive the balance of your manuscript on an exclusive basis.' It was the best letter of my life. " Mr Little sold the manuscript to New York-based Scholastic Press at auction for £100,000.
Mr Little, who launched his agency from small offices in Fulham, west London, reportedly earned 15 per cent of Ms Rowling's gross earnings from the British book market and 20 per cent of her merchandising revenue, though the status of their current legal relationship is unclear. What is known is that they dealt mainly in printed books and films, whereas Mr Blair reportedly worked closely with Rowling over the creation of Pottermore.com. The website is an online "game" allowing children to explore the Harry Potter universe.
Mr Little's spokesman added: "He greatly admires her and her extraordinary talent and is proud to have played his role throughout this journey. However, he is disappointed and surprised to have heard the premature news about the proposed new arrangements which were made public yesterday."
A spokesman for Ms Rowling said last night: "We can confirm that JK Rowling has terminated her association with the Christopher Little Literary Agency. This was a painful decision, especially as Ms Rowling had actively sought a different outcome for some weeks. However, it was not taken without good reason and it finally became unavoidable."
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Historian: ‘Disney was right to show King John as a villain' in Robin Hood
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut