Speeches from Gill Coleridge, Kazuo Ishiguro, Peter Straus
Absent friends were in mind as much as present ones last night as the Rogers, Coleridge & White (RCW) literary agency celebrated its 30th birthday at the Tabernacle in West London. It is almost exactly five years ago that Deborah Rogers died suddenly; and just under two and a half years since the similarly sudden death of the agency's David Miller, at the age of only 50. The best way to remember them was to stage a party that they both would have loved.
Gill Coleridge - dubbed "The agent's agent" in the Observer some years ago, as her colleague Peter Straus reminded us - recalled how Peter Mayer of Penguin and Sonny Mehta of Knopf had recommended she join forces with Rogers and Pat White. She and Rogers had met. Did she mind cats and dogs round the place, Rogers had asked? "I said I was agnostic." How about coconut biscuits? No, Coleridge drew the line there. But on literary and business matters they were in accord.
Kazuo Ishiguro recalled how Rogers had turned down a proposal by a friend of his. The friend wasn't a "real writer", she had explained. The "uncommon accumulation of real writers" at the party was, Ishiguro said, a testament to her philosophy. (Though, as Straus reminded us, she had not been above representing the Confessions of... novels or a book about solving the Rubik's Cube.) And, as Coleridge mentioned, there is the Deborah Rogers Foundation, awarding prizes and bursaries.
Straus, MD of the agency, raised the toast - "To our authors, who make us proud to do an extremely rewarding job."
The guests included Rogers' widower, the composer and broadcaster Michael Berkeley; authors Victoria Hislop, David Kynaston, Anne Chisholm, Alan Mallinson, Andrew O'Hagan, Sophie Hannah, Edmund Gordon, Rachel Cooke, and Naomi Ishiguro; publisher/authors Carmen Callil and Simon Winder; and publishers Gail Rebuck and Tom Weldon (Penguin Random House), Paul Baggaley and Ravi Mirchandani (Picador), Stephen Page (Faber), and Mark Richards (John Murray).
Photos: (top) Peter Straus and Gill Coleridge; (above) Kazuo Ishiguro