It's not often a historical biography inspires a big auction these days, but it happened with a new study of Dolley Madison by Yale historian Catherine Allgor, whose proposal drew offers from no fewer than nine publishers. In the end it was Jennifer Barth of Henry Holt who prevailed, paying an advance in the mid-six figures for North American rights. Allgor, who studied under historians Joseph Ellis and John Demos and previously published a book called Parlor Politics, will draw on newly discovered letters and papers to discuss Dolley's role as the wife of a Founding Father, as well as her impact on the birth of the nation. Her book, in fact, will be called The Last of the Founders: Dolley Madison and the Making of the American Nation. It was agent Christy Fletcher at Carlisle & Company who made the sale; Harper and Morrow were underbidders.

Another recent sale by Fletcher to Barth was of a first novel by a Santa Fe, N.Mex., doctor who has already published a collection of essays, The Blood of Strangers, which Holt is doing in paperback. The novel, which Fletcher co-agented with former Norton president Donald Lamm, is called White Serpentine by Frank Huyler, and is about a young doctor who believes he has discovered a new disease. Holt will publish in winter of next year.