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 (between them they have experience of most parts of the book business) 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, not wanting to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater', still work together in the agency they are proud to have created.
At first we worked in Covent Garden offices above a comic book shop where it was necessary to walk through the shop to reach the offices. We soon moved to Bloomsbury, the heart of London's 'bookland' at that time, taking offices on the first floor of an impressive 18th century house facing Bedford Square.
Our intention was always to represent writers' careers, rather than individual books, and to sell those writers into as many markets and languages as possible.
In 1986 when we needed more space, we moved a few blocks north to Gower Street, where we stayed for 14 fun, but increasingly cramped, years.
Conrad Williams joined the agency that year, bringing our staff up to 5. We 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 we felt we had to make a job for him. He is our second film and television agent.
Isobel Dixon joined BFLA in 1995 - just days after handing in her dissertation at Edinburgh University - initially as Carole's assistant (she did get a desk when she joined). Three weeks from joining the agency she was taking 15 appointments a day at the Frankfurt Book Fair, having had to absorb the entire book list between being offered the job and flying to Germany. It's not surprising she was quickly promoted to agent with her own list of book writers.
In 1999 we needed more space and during an August heatwave moved to the top floor of a sleek 1930's building on Arlington Road in quirky Camden Town.
In 2013, Juliet Pickering joined as a book department agent, also bringing an impressive client list from A P Watt. Tom Witcomb, having joined as an intern, is now an associate agent in the book department.
Julian Friedmann now represents some book writers as well as his media clients.
In the summer of 2013, Blake Friedmann migrated across Camden Town to our new home in Mandela Street, an architecturally stylish 1910 converted furniture warehouse.
Carole, Julian, Conrad and Isobel have all published books. See their biographies and our publications page for details.
At BFLA we are extremely proud of our past staff and intern alumni, and hold annual parties to reunite as many as possible. We take great enjoyment from the fact that so many junior staff and interns, with our encouragement and help, go on to achieve careers within and without the book business.
None of this would be possible without the clients who give us so much pleasure. We have always had a policy to represent writers and their careers, rather than just books, and to represent good writers who must be people we like and admire. That policy has stood us in good stead over the years. We are proud of the relationships we forge with our writers and proud of the number of markets we sell them to. And delight in the fun we have with them too.
We are extremely proud to have clients and staff who have been with us for decades, many having become close friends too. We aim to keep it that way.