Curtis Brown, one of the largest literary and talent agencies in the UK, has bought a 50% stake in Conville & Walsh. The move follows the announcement last November of United Agents buying AP Watt, and also mirrors continuing moves among publishers to consolidate power and clout, while sharing resources, expertise and, of course, costs.
The arrangement, effective March 1, will see Conville & Walsh remain in its Ganton Street offices until November, when it will move into Curtis Brown's offices in Haymarket. Conville & Walsh will retain its name and operating independence. Curtis Brown’s Jonny Geller and Ben Hall will join its board. C&W was founded in 2000, by Clare Conville, who came from A P Watt, and Patrick Walsh, who moved from Christopher Little. From the outset, the agency punched above its weight and clients now include Tom Holland, Nick Harkaway, Misha Glenny, Ruth Padel, Tom Holland and Michael Bywater. It also handles the estates of Francis Bacon and Astrid Lindgren.
Conville said she was “absolutely delighted on behalf of my beloved authors and the fantastic team at C & W to be forging what I believe will be an exciting and dynamic working relationship with Jonny and all at Curtis Brown. Patrick and I have always believed that our authors’ interests should lie at the heart of everything we do. In the fast-changing landscape of international publishing, this will be a fantastic opportunity to combine C&W's strengths and skills with those of Curtis Brown's and to ensure we continue to offer a bespoke service supported by a powerful agenting alliance to all our authors.”
Walsh added: "This is about our authors. For the last eighteen months we've explored how best to extend our authors' reach in the new publishing multiverse. Working with Curtis Brown, whom we've long known and respected, struck us as an exciting solution. Now we're intent upon rebranding as solicited the unsolicited approaches of new authors; ensuring that our novelists find the right dramatic partners; upon asserting a certain non-fiction pride, and building upon the superb work of our Managing Director, Jake Smith-Bosanquet, who has extended our authors' reach into every possible translation market".
The two agencies have enjoyed a strong history of working closely together on film projects - notable deals handled for C&W authors by Nick Marston of Curtis Brown include M L Stedman's first novel, The Light Between Oceans, which has sold to Dreamworks; SJ Watson's international bestseller Before I Go to Sleep, which sold to Scott Free and began shooting in February with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth as leads; James Holland's The Dam-Busters, sold to Peter Jackson; and Rachel Joyce's, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, to Free Range Films and Essential Cinema.
The two agencies will combine complementary areas of expertise to spread the services they offer their authors. C&W already offers a speaker's bureau, Hire Intelligence, and use literary festivals as platforms for its authors, and Curtis Brown Creative launched its creative writing course in 2011 as well as a new submissions website in 2012.
Jonny Geller, joint CEO of Curtis Brown, said: "This is one of the most exciting developments in the history of Curtis Brown. I have long admired the team at C &W, especially Clare and Patrick's verve and brilliant championing of their authors. I feel that, together, we will only build on their success. Any author with ambitions to widen their readership and to express themselves in any media should be represented by an agency capable of making this happen. We believe that by listening to our authors' needs and responding dynamically to the changing markets, together, we will provide that platform".