'Literary godmother' Becky Swift dies at 53

Rebecca Swift, founder and director of the Literary Consultancy, has died after a short illness aged 53.

The daughter of Margaret Drabble and the actor Clive Swift, and step-daughter of biographer Michael Holroyd, she set up the consultancy in 1996 with Hannah Griffiths to give professional advice and mentoring to authors. 

In an AI Profile last November she said the TLC’s purpose was to “build a bridge between publisher, agent and writer-and be of use to all three”. It handles 600 manuscripts a year, and among the successful writers that have emerged are Jenny Downham (Before I Die), Tina Seskis (One Step Too Far), Penny Pepper (First in the World Somewhere), Neamat Imam (The Black Coat) and Kerry Young (Pao).

“Becky was a visionary, an innovator, and a staunch and tireless defender of writers and of literary values” said Aki Schilz, who will succeed Swift as director next month. “Her compassion, joy, uninterruptable sense of mischief, and deep psychoanalytic understanding of the relationships between writers, writing and their myriad potential readerships have left an important and singular legacy from a woman who understood this changeable industry with as much intuition as she had intelligence.”

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