Joseph, M. (2019). Commercialising on Copyrights: The Emergence of the Victorian Literary Agent. In Victorian Literary Businesses (pp. 83-116). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
|Title:||Commercialising on Copyrights: The Emergence of the Victorian Literary Agent|
|Citation:||Joseph, M. (2019). Commercialising on Copyrights: The Emergence of the Victorian Literary Agent. In Victorian Literary Businesses (pp. 83-116). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
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|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
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The rise of the literary agent has been widely chronicled in research. However, studies concentrate on what literary agents did once they were established, but ignore how this literary business developed, and why it changed the dynamic of how literature was sold between the author and publisher. The study fills this gap by exploring Alexander Pollock Watt (A. P. Watt), one of Britain’s earliest literary agents. The author answers several questions: (1) Origins of a literary middleman; (2) Why did the literary agent emerge? (3) How did A. P. Watt become the most notable Victorian agent; and (4) How did A. P. Watt develop the professionalisation of the literary agency. At the end, the author also describes how A. P. Watt, through The Bookman interview, strategically delivered a self-image which is inconsistent with documents in the archive. The author points out it is problematic that researchers consider the narrative of The Bookman interview as fact without questioning.
Main Results of the Study
The literary agent in a relatively short span of time became an instrumental part of publishing, progressing from being an outsider and in some cases despised by publishers, to becoming a gatekeeper, as all communications, agreements and negotiations went through the office of the agent. Although not the first, it can be argued that A. P. Watt was the most influential due to how he professionalised the service utilising contractual law, so he could negotiate with publishers effectively and ensure that agreements would be legally binding. The Bookman interview was Watt’s opportunity to portray himself to the public as a confident businessman who had created a role within the industry that was regarded as a vital service to authors and publishers. However, this interview has highlighted how important it is for researchers to be critical of their sources, as numerous researchers have relied upon this article drawing on the narrative as fact without question, leading to misconceptions.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Coverage of Study