Felicity Bryan MBE, 1945-2020
Posted on 22/06/2020
As you will have no doubt heard from the numerous news stories and social media posts, our deeply-loved Felicity died peacefully on Sunday, 21st June, at home, as she would have wanted, surrounding by her close family. Two days before, she was awarded her MBE medal in a small ceremony in her beautiful garden, a fitting commemoration of her incredible life.
Felicity was made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in recognition of her contribution to publishing over the last 48 years.
In 1988, she set up her own agency against all the odds in Oxford- this agency, and watched it grow and grow.
She retired on what can only be described as a professional high. Not only did FBA enjoy a bumper year last year—with three authors shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards (coming away with the the Best Novel gong) and winners in the James Tait Black, Hawthornden and Wellcome Prizes (plus several French and Italian Awards, again for Jonathan Coe)—but in April, despite the impact of Covid-19 on the publishing industry, two of her authors’ books, Putin’s People and The Well-Gardened Mind, hit the Sunday Times non-fiction bestseller list.
Felicity in recent months also completed a number of book deals for longstanding clients of the agency, including a new collection of Rosamunde Pilcher’s vintage short stories and seeing prize-winning author Sue Prideaux’s new biography of Gauguin signed with Faber.
Our statement (issued on on Felicity’s retirement from FBA):
From the outset Felicity Bryan’s entrepreneurial spirit and international outlook have ensured that rights in her clients’ books have sold hugely – in territories all over the world. Among her many, many global successes have been Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, and Mary Berry’s many bestsellers.
Felicity has planned for her succession and for the future management of Felicity Bryan Associates for many years, with shared ownership by her colleagues Catherine Clarke, as m.d., and Caroline Wood and now Carrie Plitt as directors; Sally Holloway has been an associate agent since 2003. Her long-time colleagues Michele Topham, who manages contracts and sub-rights, and Carole Robinson, the agency accounts manager, will continue to run the administrative side of the company and have recruited a young and highly-talented team of new staff members to support them as the agency continues to flourish.
As these beautiful obituaries show, Felicity was an incredible woman, with an incredible life, who will be incredibly missed – by us, by her family, and by the thousands of people whose lives she touched. Thank you to all of those who have sent messages of love and support – they are deeply appreciated. We are buoyed up by the sheer amount of tributes, kind words, glorious memories & wonderful statements that have poured in, and ask that in lieu of flowers, to please make donations to The Book Trade Charity, as per Felicity’s family’s wishes.