Ed Victor, a nonpareil among literary agents, has died. He was 78. Victor, who was being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, suffered a heart attack on Wednesday evening.
Bronx-born and Cambridge-educated, Victor was both the archetypal literary agent and unlike anyone else. After coming to England to attend college, and stints spent working for major American and British publishers, he founded his own agency in London in 1976. With a client list that ran the gamut from literary rock stars to actual rock stars, he was known for bringing to the book business the kind of high-stakes pizzazz more commonly associated with the film and music inudustries.
He was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2016 New Year's Honours list (which coincides with the Queen of England's birthday and recognizes the achievements of people across a variety of industries). And, in November of last year, he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his literary agency, Ed Victor Ltd., at a starry party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
His clients included blockbusting bestsellers such as Frederick Forsyth and Jack Higgins; rock stars such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Pete Townshend; high-profile non-fiction authors such as Nigella Lawson, Sophie Dahl, and AA Gill; and a select list of literary novelists such as the Booker winners John Banville and the late Iris Murdoch. More recently, he represented David Cameron, selling the former Prime Minister's memoir to HarperCollins.
Like the late Carole Blake, Victor loved being an agent. He loved his celebrated friends, he loved the trappings of his success, and he loved being involved in the world of books—he was both a wheeler-dealer and highly cultured. Nigella Lawson, paying tribute at the party last autumn, noted that he was "cleverer than anyone else. He does not force it on people—but he lets it be known."
Victor's eponymous agency issued a statement about its founder's passing. It said: "Ed was a one-off: the toughest yet most professional of agents, who would always get the very best deal for his clients. An inveterate party-goer, he often attended three events in an evening. He will be a huge loss to the publishing industry and the wider world, and we miss him dearly."
A version of this story appeared in the U.K.-based publishing trade, BookBrunch.