Former James Baldwin Estate administrator Eileen Ahearn passed away on January 6 at the age of 75 after a short illness. Her death was confirmed by independent publicist Scott Manning & Associates.
Ahearn began her publishing career as a typist at Random House in the early 1970s before she transitioned into serving as secretary to acclaimed author Toni Morrison with whom she served as a longtime advisor. As she developed an expertise in contracts, specifically in parsing together the details of foreign rights, Ahearn became a fixture among corporate leaders to help coordinate, modernize, and streamline the overlapping functions of legal, contracts, rights and IT departments in order report royalties more accurately and fairly.
In the late 1980s, Ahearn performed the same functions for former Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy, who was then president of Avon Books, and continued to work as a consultant with Reidy at Simon & Schuster before retiring in 2020.
As interest in Baldwin exploded over the last decade, Ahearn became centrally involved in all aspects of managing the estate including the transfer of the writer’s archives to the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library, the optioning of film rights to If Beale Street Could Talk, and the naming of The James Baldwin Library at MacDowell.