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The rights to travel W

hen I landed my first job at Rogers, Coleridge & White, I answered the phone, made

lots of coffee, dealt with Xerox machines, ordered stationery, typed telegrams, sent faxes—and I met a lot of people. It wasn’t what I had expected, but my colleague Pat White explained all to me one day: “It’s simple, really: it boils down to contracts and contacts.” It was the contacts bit that Deborah Rogers loved. And that is one of the impulses behind the announcement of a new bursary of £10,000, which will be awarded by the foundation set up in her memory. The successful candidate will spend a period of up to two months working in a publishing house or agency in another country, sponsored for a few weeks with an agency or publisher, in the hope of deepening their knowledge of the industry and those who work in it. There’s a catch: the bursary is open only to those working in rights departments or selling rights at a literary agency. There seems to be no end of shindigs and freebies for editors to Australia, India, Mexico, Norway, Korea. Yet rare are the opportunities for those selling rights to take time to deepen their knowledge of a culture, of its publishing market. With the bursary it would be possible to spend a month in Scandinavia and then, with careful planning, spend a month in Barcelona coming to grips with Spanish and Catalan trends. Or to spend two months in New York, or Australia. The benefits for the successful candidate are plain to see: his or her employer would also gain immeasurably. Deborah came to dislike book fairs, and talked wistfully about the days when you would turn up at the Messe and simply bump into people in the aisles and talk about a book. She didn’t fancy the prospect of sitting for days in the airless International Rights Centre

A new Deborah Rogers Foundation bursary reflects that it was the varied people and cultures that the late agent so loved about the publishing trade, David Miller writes

The Deborah Rogers Foundation

The Deborah Rogers Foundation was set up in 2015 to honour the memory of the Rogers, Coleridge & White (RCW) co- founder, who passed away in 2014. The foundation’s board is chaired


Rare are the opportunities for those selling rights to take time to deepen their knowledge of a culture, of its publishing market

(“Where are the books?” she would ask), a venue described once by a great friend of hers as being “like a slightly dysfunctional immigration control centre”. She liked a party, with the implausible canapés, the badges—“I wish I had a name like Ulrich Wank,” she told Dr Ulrich Wank after having worn his badge for the best part of one such party—and adored putting people together and letting them find out themselves what had drawn them to publishing. If it achieves anything, this new bursary will rekindle that spirit for curiosity in each other, in what we do, and in our books too. 

David Miller is an agent at Rogers, Coleridge & White and the secretary of the Deborah Rogers Foundation. Rogers is pictured above

by the composer and broadcaster Lord (Michael) Berkeley of Knighton, Rogers’ widower. The board and members of the foundation include RCW agents Peter Straus and David Miller, Four Colman Getty c.e.o. Dotti Irving, Faber & Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page, Penguin Random House chair Baroness Gail Rebuck and authors (and former Rogers clients) William Fiennes and Ian McEwan. In May 2016, Sharlene Wen-Ning Teo (pictured with McEwan, above) won the inaugural DRF Writers’ Award for her novel-in-progress, Ponti. A cheque for £10,000 accompanies the prize, in order to lend financial support to the winning unpublished writer while they finish their text. There were more than 850 submissions in the award’s first year. The deadline for applications for the new bursary is 15th December 2016, with the winner to be announced during the 2017 London Book Fair. For more information and application forms, visit

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