Potter fairytale ends as agent mulls legal action against author

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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. He secured the Harry Potter scribe a six-figure book deal and both of them made fortunes. Now their fairytale partnership has come to a crashing conclusion.

Mr Little (inset), 69, is considering legal action against Ms Rowling, whose books have sold almost half a billion copies, after it emerged that she 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 her 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 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 she was trying to get the first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, published.He sold the manuscript to New York-based Scholastic Press at auction for £100,000.

JK Rowling said in 1997: "I remember getting a letter back [from Mr Little]... 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."