Christopher Little Literary Agency
The Christopher Little Literary Agency is a firm of literary agents based in London. Its clients have included Darren Shan, A. J. Quinnell, and Janet Gleeson. Christopher Little, who runs the agency, also managed Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling from 1996 until 2011 and has been credited with single-handedly managing Rowling's career and turning the Harry Potter franchise into a multi-million pound industry. He has been described as "the luckiest agent ever" who was half of "the most commercially successful relationship in literary history".
Little's father was a coroner and First World War fighter pilot. Born in Liversedge, West Yorkshire Little studied at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield until he left during sixth form. He joined his uncle's textile firm in 1958 before moving to Hong Kong to work in the shipping industry. After nearly two decades there he moved to London where he started working as a literary agent in 1979 so that he could represent his friend and fellow Hong Kong trader Philip Nicholson. The business was started as a hobby to help him; he got Nicholson's book Man on Fire published under the pseudonym A. J. Quinnell which was met with great success. The business grew to having 18 clients by 1992. At the time the cramped Fulham offices were described as being "near-Dickensian".
J. K. Rowling
In 1995 Little received a manuscript from J. K. Rowling who was looking for representation. Looking at a list of literary agents she saw the name "Christopher Little" and, believing it to sound like a character in a children's story, sent him Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Little responded four days later thinking there was "something special" about the work. Office manager Bryony Evans was keen to send out the book to potential publishers but, with company finances being very tight, was only able to send out three copies. Little chose to sell the book's British and Commonwealth rights to Bloomsbury Publishing for £2,500, a small figure but he believed it to be his "masterstroke". The rights for publishing in the United States subsequently went to auction after word of mouth and positive reviews raised significant interest in the property. The US rights went to public auction and raised a huge sum, of which Little claimed between 10 and 15 per cent. In 2007 he was estimated to have received at least £50m from the franchise. Little has been called "the luckiest agent ever" and is credited with turning Rowling into a "literary superstar". The pair have been described as being "the most commercially successful relationship in literary history".
Little's association with Rowling did not end well with the author choosing to leave Little. She left to join one of Little's former business partners, Neil Blair, as he set up his own agency. This led to Little considering legal action against the author but the dispute was settled amicably. The details of the settlement remain confidential.
Christopher Little Literary Agency has represented numerous authors, mainly in commercial fiction, including Darren Shan and Janet Gleeson. It has also represented people with their autobiographies, including Madeleine by Kate McCann and Soldier by General Sir Mike Jackson.
- Smith, David (15 July 2007). "Harry Potter and the man who conjured up Rowling's millions". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Hastings, Chris; Bisset, Susan (15 June 2003). "Literary agent made £15m because JK Rowling liked his name". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Sharp, Rob (3 July 2011). "Harry Potter and the furious feud: Rowling banishes her literary agent". The Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Walker, Tim (25 January 2012). "Harry Potter author JK Rowling pays off the man who conjured up her millions". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Christopher Little". Agent Hunter. Retrieved 24 March 2018.