The Blake Friedmann agency has announced the shocking news that Carole Blake, co-founder of the agency with her former husband Julian Friedmann, has died. She had started treatment for cancer, but died suddenly on 25 October from a pulmonary embolism.
Carole Blake celebrated 50 years in publishing in 2013, the year she received a Pandora Award for "significant and sustained contribution to the publishing industy." Although based in London, Blake was well known in American publishing circles.
She began as a secretary with Rainbird, the packager, before moving on to become rights manager at Michael Joseph. After spells with WH Allen and Sphere, she started her own literary agency in 1977, merging it with Julian Friedmann's agency in 1982. The two remained friends and colleagues after their divorce, and he was with her when she died.
Blake Friedmann now has a staff of 18, and a client list of 200. Carole Blake's own authors included Elizabeth Chadwick, Anne de Courcy, Barbara Erskine, Peter James, Lawrence Norfolk, Joseph O'Connor, Sheila O'Flanagan, Tess Stimson, Julian Stockwin, and Jacqueline Walker.
Blake was an active, familiar and popular figure in the wider book trade. She was president of the Association of Authors' Agents, instigating an overhaul of publishers' often baffling royalty statements; she was the second female chair of the Society of Bookmen (established in 1921, and now the Book Society); she was chairman of BTBS, the Book Trade Charity, serving on the board for 11 years; and she was an associate v-p of the Romantic Novelists' Association. She wrote an influential book, From Pitch to Publication: Everything You Need To Know To Get Your Novel Published (Macmillan).
It is hard to absorb the passing of someone who so clearly relished life. Carole Blake loved her job, particularly. Reporting on the 50 years in publishing party at Stationers' Hall, BookBrunch quoted her colleague Conrad Williams' remarking that, "She liked to say, on leaving the office, 'See you for another fun-filled day tomorrow', and only sometimes meant it ironically."
An appreciation of Carole Blake will follow.
A version of this article originally appeared in the U.K. trade publication, BookBrunch.