Requiescat in Pace, Christopher Little

Christopher Little, the literary agent to whom in 1985 the unknown Jo Rowling submitted three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in hopes of gaining representation to publishers for the book, died on 7 January “after a long illness,” a euphemism for cancer or AIDS. Little succeeded in finding a home for the oversized novel — Stone being twice as long as the accepted length for stories aimed at the ‘Age 9-12’ bracket for whom Rowling claimed to be writing  — at Bloomsbury’s small children’s book division. It had been turned down by all the major publishers in the United Kingdom, but Little persisted. The rest is history.

The folk tale of Christopher Little as Rowling’s representative did not have a happy ending: Rowling and Neil Blair, a lawyer at the Little Agency, broke legal contracts with him in 2011 to set up The Blair Partnership (a bit of foul play rectified by a large payout to Little the following year). That departure was the birth of Rowling, Inc., in which the global financial interests of the Author Become Juggernaut are aggressively represented by barristers and bean counters so that Rowling, as she once put it, unlike Agatha Christie, does not wind up “fleeing the tax man”  every year until her next book comes out. The fairy tale of the princess discovered and well-served by Sir Cadogan ended with her dismissing him with enough money to buy a new horse and castle. 

Little took the break hard but weathered on gamely with millions of pounds in the bank; the year after his break with Blair and Rowling, he merged his agency with that of Curtis Brown.  He died on 7 January at home with his family.

The Presence has not broken her Twitter silence of more than a month to acknowledge her first representative’s demise five days ago. One hopes she reconciled with the man before his death and has privately expressed her condolences to the Little family and to the Agency that had the courage and good judgment to believe in her when she was a nobody. 

Regardless, rest in peace, Christopher Little — and thank you for all you did to advance J. K. Rowling’s career as a writer and to steward the Harry Potter phenomenon from its birth, growth into a mania, to its adult life as the Shared Text of the 21st Century.


  1. Brian Basore says

    A visual reaction: a grown Hermione Granger sitting at a desk, the news of Christopher Little’s death in hand, and a tear rolling down her face.

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