The Blake Friedmann Literary Agency was formed in 1982 by merging the Julian Friedmann Literary Agency (1976) with the Carole Blake Literary Agency (1977). Carole and Julian each had publishing backgrounds and when they met in the early 80s realised they had complementary skills. Putting the two small agencies together created a stronger whole in which Carole handled book rights and Julian handled film and television rights.
Carole and Julian married in 1983, just days before a Frankfurt Book Fair (which became their honeymoon). In 1996 they separated but continued to work together in the agency they had created, until Carole’s death in 2016.
Conrad Williams joined the agency in 1986. The agency didn't have a clearly defined role for him at the time (or a desk: his first 'work station' was a door supported by two short filing cabinets), but so entertaining was his letter of application that Carole and Julian felt they had to make a job for him. He became the agency’s second film and television agent and now runs the Media Department, where he is supported by Louisa Minghella.
Isobel Dixon joined BFLA in 1995 – just days after handing in her dissertation at Edinburgh University – initially as Carole's assistant. Three weeks later she was attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, having had to absorb the entire book list between being offered the job and flying to Germany. She was quickly promoted to agent in 1997 and is now a Director of the agency and Head of the Book Department.
In 2013 Juliet Pickering joined as a book agent, bringing an impressive client list from A.P. Watt, and in 2017 became Vice Head of the Book Department. Tom Witcomb, having started as an intern in 2008, was made an Associate Agent in the Book Department in 2013. We now have two further Associate Agents: Hattie Grunewald, who began at Blake Friedmann in 2013 as an intern, and Samuel Hodder, who has worked with us as Reporting Manager since 2015 and began building his own client list in 2018.
A Foreign Rights department was created in 2012 with the appointment of Louise Brice, and is currently run by James Pusey and Hana Murrell, with the assistance of James Sykes, Rights Assistant. Notable alumni include Melis Dagoglu (Hachette) and Emanuela Anechoum (E/O Edizioni).
In September 2016, Carole Blake sadly passed away. We started the Carole Blake Open Doors Project as part of her legacy, and to encourage inclusivity and diversity in our industry – exactly as Carole did.
In 2019, Kate Burke joined the Book Department as a Senior Agent, bringing award-winning and bestselling authors from Northbank Talent Management. Before becoming an agent, Kate was an editor at Headline and HarperCollins, and an editorial director at Penguin Random House.
The team of book and media agents are supported by our Contracts Manager, Resham Naqvi who joined in 2014; our Finance Manager, Daisy Way, who joined in this role in 2017, having initially interned here, then worked at Rogers, Coleridge and White, before returning; Sian Ellis-Martin who joined as an intern in 2018 before becoming Book Department Assistant in 2019; and Media Department Assistant Louisa Minghella who joined in 2019.
Carole, Julian, Conrad and Isobel all have published books to their name. See our publications page for details.
Blake Friedmann has had several homes: at first Carole and Julian worked in Covent Garden offices above a comic book store, then moved to Bedford Square in Bloomsbury, the heart of London's 'bookland' at that time. Staying in Bloomsbury they moved to Gower Street, and then on to Camden, first to a 1930s building on Arlington Road, and then to a 1910 converted furniture warehouse on Mandela Street. In 2018, we moved to our current home in Highbury Place, facing the lush green space of Highbury Fields.
At BFLA we are a close working team, who all take great pride and pleasure in the work we do for our writers. We are also extremely proud of our colleagues and their range of achievements – and we’re happy to have such a fine list of past staff and intern alumni. We’re delighted that so many colleagues, with our encouragement and help, go on to achieve careers within and without the book business, and we hold an annual party to catch up with as many of them as possible.
All of this rests on our clients, the writers who give us – and those who enjoy their stories in books and on film – so much pleasure. We have always had a policy of representing writers and their careers, rather than just books and individual scripts, and we seek to represent excellent writers who are also people we like and admire. That policy has stood us in good stead over the years. We are happy to have long-standing relationships with our writers, relish increasing the number of markets we sell them to, and delight in the fun we have along the way. This is, we believe, the best job in the world.