How I Found the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency (Part 4)

Authors – as indeed am I - are often fascinated at how writers come to the agency and I ask each author to write a short explanation on their website page. Here is a fourth selection showing just how varied are the routes to the agency.


My partner and I were in Waterstones; I was browsing whilst she was paying. I picked up Crack House and started flicking, liked the premise and bought it. I immediately thought that if a book could be written about Harry Keeble then maybe I should investigate. On googling Kris Hollington I was advised to contact his agent...the rest is history.


"I first came into contact with Andrew Lownie in 2005, when I e-mailed him in relation to writing a book about Indian cookery. I received a swift and frank response from Andrew, who replied, ‘There are over 500 books on Indian cooking on Amazon. What is your unique selling point?’ Evidently, Andrew’s observation sank deep into my consciousness, and finally, and nearly three years later, my book about Indian cookery has metamorphosed into Indian Superfood. Dealings with Andrew have always been clear as crystal and this is why I choose to work with him. ‘Speed and transparency’ are the two words which, for me, best describe my personal experience of Andrew Lownie."


I first came across Andrew's name following some email correspondence with the biographer and journalist Valerie Grove, which directed me to the Biographers' Club. As I was at that time also researching into where I might best find an agent experienced and successful in the world of biography and memoir (I'm first and foremost a novelist), and then seeing it come up again both in relation to the hugely successful titles Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet and Damaged, by Cathy Glass, it seemed fate was trying to tell me something. I telephoned Andrew straight away, and his professionalism and enthusiasm for the project impressed me greatly. It's been wonderful to see it so quickly translated to a publishing deal!


"My co-author and I had approached a number of literary agents, all of whom we were sure could have done the job. However Andrew came highly recommended and when we went to see him we were convinced both by his enthusiasm for the project and his track record in the military history field which he is deeply interested in. His success in selling books in this genre (particularly those by Damien Lewis including Operation Certain Death) made us confident we would be in good hands."


I heard about Andrew Lownie through a positive report in the Writers Market UK Book 2009. I was very impressed with the website and also friends in publishing spoke very highly about his agency and its results. I came away from my first meeting with Andrew Lownie impressed by his range of suggestions for taking my project forward. There is no wait and see policy here - it's a question of how can we get your book out, and to whom, most effectively. He always replies immediately to e-mails. His running of the Biographers' Club has also helped my book greatly and impressed me with his vision for first time authors. So far I could not recommend him more. Other agents I met seemed more laid back by comparison.


"My introduction to Andrew Lownie occurred by way of a publishing industry contact. When Bloodline of the Holy Grail was published in 1996, I was liaising on another project with Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson of the publishers Sinclair-Stevenson. He subsequently began a new operation as a literary agent, and I approached him early in 2001 after my hitherto agent had changed companies. Not wishing to follow employed persons from pillar to post, I was looking for future continuity and an individual with his or her own literary agency. Christopher was an obvious first choice for advice in this regard and, knowing my work, he was very quick to respond. He recommended an agent, whom he said was "very sound on history in particular" and that the right man for my books would be Andrew Lownie."


"Coming across Andrew Lownie's name in a directory of literary agents I checked out his website, which persuaded me that he might be the man for me. This proved to be the case, as he was able to place my book on Allied POWs in World War II with John Murray. My original idea had been turned down by several publishers, but Andrew got me to reshape and expand the proposal to ensure success. I look forward to a long working relationship with the agency."


"In late 1986, I had just about given up hope of placing Above Top Secret with a publisher when the John Farquharson agency - of which Andrew was a director - expressed interest. As a specialist in intelligence matters, Andrew was astonished by the amount of documented material I had put together, but doubtful about UFOs being a major international security issue. He decided to make a few enquiries with some of his sources, one of whom was a retired CIA Deputy Director of Operations. "Andrew," he responded, "all I can tell you is that it is the most sensitive subject in the intelligence community." And that's how the book got published!"


For my latest book idea I knew I would need an agent. As I surfed the internet looking for agents I came across the Andrew Lownie agency. Andrew seemed very approachable and professional so I decided to contact him. He promptly replied to my email before I had a chance to contact any other agent.


"A Google-search for ‘agents who take email submissions’ gave me Andrew’s name at the top of the page, so I went for a quick look at his website - and stayed for ages, chuckling at his articles ‘Week in the Life of a Literary Agency’ and his advice on how not to submit: “Anything with too much sellotape and staples suggests a mad person”. It was clear he had a sense of humour and therefore he might appreciate mine. He emailed back in less than 24 hours and gave invaluable advice on how to shape my proposal into something he could use. Google did well."


"I discovered Andrew by going through the author’s bible, the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, and was drawn to the fact that he represented several other journalists. Andrew was the most positive of the four agents I approached and the quickest off the mark. By the time the other agents had got in touch I had already decided that Andrew was the one; he immediately made me feel that my book was as good as published. Five books down the road, I can’t thank him enough for his unstinting support and patience, as well as his wise and speedy counsel.”


"The Writer's Handbook lists Andrew's writers. Looking at the entries for the first time, my immediate thought was that anyone who is trusted by Sir John Mills, Alan Whicker and Norma Major, should be more than good enough for me. Importantly, Andrew has written books himself, so he must know how fragile the new author's ego can be. Best of all, he answered my first email and it was after eleven at night. That really counts."


Having parted company with my previous agent, I asked my publisher if he would be kind enough to recommend a sympathetic new agent. He recommended the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency so I wrote to Andrew who happened, by great good fortune, to know my book. Since then he has been immensely helpful in developing ideas for a new book. Pure serendipity.


I was impressed greatly by Andrew’s commitment, realism and fresh, workable ideas in our preliminary conversation. I saw three agents and afterwards there was absolutely no question in my mind who should be my agent.


"The estimable Andrew Lownie was first brought to my attention by a TV production company executive who was keen on making a programme about a short treatment I had written on the "Real Story' behind the Hollywood blockbuster film and Booker Prize-winning novel, The English Patient. (I had only written the treatment after a conversation over a few glasses of wine in the kitchen of a friend who requested ideas for a Channel 4 history documentary series). The TV executive then mentioned my treatment to Andrew, and we made contact with each other. The rest, as they say, is history! Over a thoroughly enjoyable lunch Andrew suggested I turn the "Real Story of The English Patient' into a book, which I did. Two years later it appeared as The Hunt for Zerzura."


"Andrew was suggested to me by a friend and co-author. Within half an hour of an unsolicited email, Andrew emailed back, we met and I was signed up. Since then I have found Andrew remarkably supportive and constructive and am very much enjoying working together."


"When I was looking to write my first book, Deception in War, I followed the advice in Susan Page's How to get Published and Make a Lot of Money. One thing she recommended was to choose an agent from the acknowledgements by an author writing on a similar topic, and Andrew was thanked by Adrian Weale in his book Secret Warfare. I wrote to Andrew explaining that Adrian was a fellow officer in my TA unit and implying that he had recommended Andrew to me, although I had not actually met Adrian - but then it was a book about deception after all."


"I came to the Andrew Lownie agency by direct recommendation of the Society for Authors. I was dealing with a true story that all other agents I had spoken to feared was 'too dangerous' for them to handle. It involved an ex-Mujahedin - a white, English, public school educated convert to Islam - telling of his wars in Afghanistan. He was revealing a lot of Islamic 'state secrets', and the other literary agents feared a nasty fatwa, or worse. By contrast, when I spoke to Andrew and described the story to him, he was immediately interested. It was a meeting of kindred spirits. And the rest, as they say, is history."


"A publisher who’d been handling one of my books recommended Andrew Lownie, so I sent him an email. To my astonishment I got a reply within minutes. Since then I’ve found that this rapid and helpful response was absolutely characteristic of the way Andrew does business. "


Andrew was recommended to me through a friend in the book publishing business. When I was about half way through writing A Brief History of Absolutely Everything I wrote a proposal to publish and sent it to Andrew for feedback. His support and enthusiasm for the project have now resulted in him agreeing to help find the right publisher.


"I was extremely lucky to meet Andrew through a friend who happened to be one of his authors, the late Tom Pocock - a wise, humorous and intelligent man who certainly knew an excellent agent and a good bloke when he saw one. I am very grateful to him indeed."


"Otherwise I came to you because - having more or less sold a book but suspecting I might need an agent to deal with the fine print - I was impressed with your confident assertion that you'd raise the advance by more than your fee; also with the speed with which we were able to get together, and the fact that you're always able to take the call personally should I telephone and respond to emails promptly. As a freelance of 20+ years, I also firmly believe that in many things small is still beautiful...."


"I had submitted a book to another agent along with a list of future projects. They recommended that Andrew might be the ideal agent for me. I had seen his name on the website of the 'Society of Authors' and thus decided to give him a call. I think I was convinced that he was the right agent for me almost as soon as I called. Andrew picked up the call personally thus I did not first have to explain myself to a number of people before reaching him. We made an immediate appointment and I was impressed that everything was carried out at a personal level."


"I know I had an interesting story to tell, but did not know how best go about it. Then Mr., Andrew Lownie was introduced to me by a friend who had come across his website. I was impressed with what I read in his website, and realized he is very much familiar with Middle Eastern and Islamic Cultures. I contacted him. He responded very promptly and courteously. He wanted to know further details. I provided him with my book. He was genuinely interested in it, and stayed involved throughout the process bearing with me many ups and downs through this time, giving me extremely valuable advice. I have received much support and encouragement from him. Mr. Andrew Lownie is my first choice and he has proven himself to be not only a literary AGENT but also a caring FRIEND. He has also proven a motto we medical students had when taking multiple choice tests - THE FIRST CHOICE, IS THE BEST CHOICE!"


My current book began life as a somewhat unwieldy study of Henry VIII`s impact upon the reigns of Edward VI and Mary Tudor. Sadly, a first brush with a literary agent resulted in a tardy and ultimately brusque rebuff. However, after a brief wounded break from writing I came across Andrew Lownie`s website and contacted him. His reply was prompt and incisive, and though he, too, considered my proposal unconvincing at that time, he suggested something altogether more exciting: a life of Henry VIII. Just over eight months later, following an intensive burst of writing, I was added to his list of authors.


"I'd been going through the depressing and unrewarding task of trying to find an agent when my eye was caught by a small news item in the excellent 'Writer's News'. The literary agent in question was Andrew Lownie, specialising in biography and non-fiction, and who was 'looking for interesting non-fiction ideas'. Authors - or potential authors were invited to write to Andrew directly outlining their ideas. I didn't hold out much hope as I'd already been summarily turned down by three or four agents before I had even managed to stammer out my idea. But write I did, and within three or four days Andrew called me, told me to flesh out my proposal in writing and then we would meet up and take things from there. We did meet, Andrew took me on, persevered in trying to find a publisher and eventually succeeded. My book was and is a great success and this is, in large measure, down to Andrew. One happy and rather unexpected outcome was that Andrew cheerfully took on the task of selling a business book written by my partner, Robert Jones. Andrew sold this in double quick time and now Andrew represents us both!"


Andrew has been completely supportive from the start, which was not long ago. I found his agency through the Biographer's Club, which Andrew was coordinating, and which I have also found an invaluable source of friends who are actually interested in talking about the process and subjects of biography! I can recommend both.


“As editor of Military Illustrated, I had known Andrew for several years as one of the best agents for military history; he represented some of my regular contributors. But it’s only recently that I felt my writing was at the right stage to work with him. His advice has been inspirational and already taken my career to a new level.”


"I was attracted to Andrew Lownie’s agency by his comprehensive and useful Web site. When I saw that Andrew had written a biography of John Buchan and represented a book on Percy Sykes, there seemed no better choice for a novel on the new Great Game. I was keen to find an agent with an interest in espionage and the Middle East.

I had been warned that the world of publishers and literary agents was agonisingly slow-moving, with authors waiting for up to two months for their manuscripts to be read. Andrew replied the same day to my queries and always encouraged me to forge ahead whatever doubts I might be having."


"Without any idea about books or publishing I struggled to find the right agent. I did not seem to gel with those who were interested in me and those I liked would not take me on. Another author recommended Andrew and on first meeting I realised that he was right for me. I do not know how he does it but he is invariably there when you need him, usually on the other end of the phone whenever you call."


After being told the agency was the one to go to for narrative history, I brought to Andrew an idea for a book on the turbulent, 1200-year story of the British pound. I was so impressed by how fast the agency works that, until I visited it, I assumed he had a large staff to help him handle the work load instead of just himself. Because he is so well acquainted with the market, he is politely ruthless in assessing pitches and manuscripts, which saves an enormous amount of the author’s time and ensures the best possible reception with a potential publisher. If it’s not good enough to be put to a publisher or if the approach is askew, he tells you so. But I also found him extremely encouraging and astute in identifying the essential adjustments to be made.


"I used to run the British Government's UFO Project at the Ministry of Defence and when I left this job, friends and colleagues urged me to write a book about my experiences. I was intrigued and knew I had an interesting story to tell, but had no idea how best to proceed. It was then that a friend suggested I call Andrew Lownie. He replied promptly and courteously, expressing an interest but wanting to know further details.

Over the next few weeks we discussed matters in great detail. Andrew steered me expertly through the process of drawing up a synopsis and gave me much good advice about how best to shape my proposal into something that would be attractive to publishers. When the offers came, he took a pragmatic view and stopped me from blindly accepting the first deal placed before me. That was when I found out why good agents are worth their weight in gold - Andrew wasn't afraid to play hardball (I wouldn't have dared) and he negotiated a deal far better than I would ever have been able to obtain myself.

Andrew was genuinely interested in my books and stayed involved in the process, giving valuable advice not just on my manuscript, but also on marketing and publicity issues. As a result, my dealings with my publishers were far more effective than might otherwise have been the case - I knew the right questions to ask. In between books, Andrew has kept me informed about trends in the publishing industry, so that I am up to speed on the state of the market and ready to submit that next synopsis. And finally, on one occasion when a particularly successful deal was concluded, I remember a very nice celebratory meal at Quaglino's. Thank you, Andrew!"


"I was first put in touch with Andrew Lownie by Jonathan Trace, an indie film producer from the Midlands who had done a lot of corporate work for me when I was in charge of BT's European public relations programme. When I decided to leave BT and go back to my roots in writing and historical research, I asked Jonathan if he happened to know any literary agents in London. To my surprise, he said that he did and Andrew's was the name he gave me. I got in touch and, with Andrew's valiant support, it was a case of third time lucky when, after two other ideas were rejected, Piatkus offered for the new biography of Mary Tudor that I had proposed."


"Andrew and I had known one another for some years but it was not until 2000 that I turned to him for advice. Despite my literary agent's lack of enthusiasm for the project, I had written the biography of an Irish Sister Genevieve O'Farrell who had been principal of a large girl's school in Catholic West Belfast during the Troubles. When Andrew and I met at a social function at Westminster I asked him whether he would read the book, as my literary agent was not interested. Andrew agreed to do so. Thanks to Andrew, Sister Genevieve was published by Times Warner in the UK and the USA. I have stayed with Andrew and never regretted switching agents."


Having been represented by another agent since I became a professional writer in 2000, I realised the time had come to give my career a boost. I decided to put it in Andrew's hands because he is reputed to be a specialist not only in historical non-fiction but also in rescuing his writers from the mid-career dip. We have already discussed a mini-tsunami of possible projects, and hope to have publishing and broadcasting proposals ready for submission very soon.


Andrew was recommended to me by a publisher who thought that his agency would match my ambition to produce popular history of the highest scholarly standards. I’m one of those authors that Andrew specializes in – well-established, mid-career, a number of books published - who want to make the transition to a higher level of recognition and income. Thanks to Andrew that has already happened.


"I asked a friend in publishing to recommend someone, and he suggested Andrew Lownie. He told me that Mr. Lownie was well-connected and had a reputation for professionalism, but was also known for courtesy and sensitivity to authors. I was pleasantly surprised at his prompt responses to my emails and queries, and am very excited to be working with him."


I had just finished my fourth book on the history of the ancient world, which completed the planned A Test of Time series, and felt strongly that a fresh start was needed. Over the years since publication of the first of those books, my previous agent had moved into personality-based publishing (celebrity biographies – not my cup of tea!) and I obviously needed to find someone with a good track record in non-fiction history. One name kept coming up – Andrew Lownie – variously described as ‘inspired’ ‘creative’ and ‘full of zest’. I arranged to meet Andrew in his office and we had a long chat about where I should be going next with my writing. Having signed up with him, I would now add one more adjective to Andrew’s other epithets – ‘demanding’ – and rightly so. He demands of his authors the very best of their efforts when preparing a new book proposal – including a whole raft of information which might be useful for any prospective publisher to make an informed decision about you. This was something which I wasn’t used to, but which makes absolute sense in this competitive world of book writing. I am delighted to be in Andrew Lownie’s stable and look forward to what the future holds for me and my new, ‘inspiring’ literary agent.


I came to the agency through the entry in the Writers' and Artists' Market of 1998/9. Oddly enough he sent me a great rejection letter for my art theft thriller Quicksilver that I wrote in 1998/9. His standard letter was very encouraging, but he took the time to write a handwritten note to say that the book was very good indeed, just that he wasn’t confident he could place it, and not to lose heart. I had been so impressed, that I hadn't forgotten it. When my husband was looking for a UK agent for his book proposal, I suggested he contact him, and again his advice was most encouraging. I had felt the lack of a UK agent ever since the sale of my first non-fiction adult book in the USA (The Sancy Blood Diamond), and with the release of The Pirate Queen about Queen Elizabeth I and her merchant adventurers, felt the time was also right to approach him for myself as well.


"I've had two literary agents. The first wasn't really independent. The other was interested primarily in crime fiction, which caused problems. By 2004, I'd gathered a good deal of material for my current project. A journalist gave me a contact at a large London agency. Crime/biography wasn't this agent's field, but he recommended Andrew Lownie. I checked the website, which was attractively-presented, no-nonsense, and informative. Re-working my proposal and the discipline of condensing each chapter into a page turned out to be a valuable exercise."


When my current agent Gloria Ferris decided to retire after a long and fruitful relationship which went back 25 years I approached Andrew Lownie to represent me. It was a good choice. We share similar interests in military history and above all in John Buchan, a writer whom we both admire. After 40 years in the writing business - as publisher, journalist, broadcaster and writer - I'm well aware that personal chemistry is essential in the author-agent nexus and I'm delighted that an old friendship has blossomed into what we both hope will be a mutually prosperous relationship.


"I met Andrew when he attended one of my Beginners Wine Courses in the 1990's. At the start of the first evening I ask people to tell us all (we are a maximum of twenty) who they are, why they are doing the course, and what their profession is, so that I can begin to remember names, and so that we all get a sense of the make up of the group. Andrew mentioned that he was a literary agent. I was already on someone's books, and thought no more about it. But at the end of the last evening, as he was leaving, he asked me if had an agent. When I answered yes, his response was “Well, if you ever think of leaving them, I'd like to represent you! Which he began to do, most forcefully and efficiently, very soon after."


"Andrew Lownie was recommended to me by my translations agent (who did not handle English langauage rights). What I liked at our first meeting was his stating precisely what he could do and what he couldn't, when offering to help plan my writing career. How the author-agent relationship works between us in practise is a carefully considered approval or rejection of subjects I may suggest, then help with shaping my proposal to the publisher - and a firm refusal to submit them if he feels it doesn't do justice to what I have in mind, while explaining why. During a long career, I have never known an agent take such trouble."


"Andrew came highly recommended by a publishing friend from New York. I sent my proposal as suggested on his website and was invited to pop by on my next London trip. As soon as I met Andrew I was convinced by his professionalism, enthusiasm and love of books. He sent my work out to several readers and has helped shape the proposal to make it more commercial and attractive to a wider readership. "


"I found the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency in the Writer's Handbook a few years ago, when I was looking for an agent to represent a proposed book on computers and the Internet. Andrew turned me down, but he did it very nicely, and I'm afraid he was right about the book! So, after my next un-agented book on family history was published with no advance payment, I looked again for an agent to represent me for the following book, and thought of Andrew. I was - and continue to be - very impressed with Andrew's innovative new website, which is exactly the sort of online window to the world that I want my work displayed in. I've enjoyed Andrew's articles on the website about publishing, and look forward to reading more of those. In addition, I'm glad that Andrew has engaged the services of a publicist, and look forward to working with her in the future, and to whatever other pleasant surprises Andrew has in store for us."


"In my usual pedantic manner I mailed all the apparently suitable agents in the UK with an enquiry letter and Andrew was amongst the five who replied in a positive manner. Considering the choice of an agent to be fundamentally important I looked at these more closely. It didn’t take long to discover that Andrew was the man I wanted to deal with. He is universally considered to be a workaholic for his authors, always there with advice or support and a very good salesman. (In a gentlemanly way) So I sent him my submission. I was fortunate that he considered my poor prose to be worthy of his efforts at preparing them for publication and that he subsequently agreed to take me on as a client."


I came to Andrew Lownie from another agency. The things I value most about Andrew's approach are his efficiency (e-mails are answered immediately), integrity and genuine enthusiasm for books and new projects. Authors need to know quickly if an idea is not working or can be better developed in another way. Andrew gives considered feedback immediately rather than leaving you hanging around for weeks on end. He works hard for his authors, even when they don't appear to be writing!


"I had used agents in the United States and Australia on books published in those countries during the 1990s but badly needed to find a new British agent as my previous one seemed to have vanished off the face of the earth without saying goodbye. My Australian agent Margaret Kennedy recommended Andrew Lownie and I rang him up. He suggested a meeting and I was immediately impressed with his commitment to his clients, his grasp of the publishing industry and his wicked sense of humour. He is now my sole agent."


"Writers chop and change agents until they feel totally comfortable, which I did on finding Andrew Lownie."


When my previous agent passed away at a relatively early age, I contacted the agency on the advice of a fellow-author. I had lost a friend and mentor who had steered me through my first book and found myself midway though a major project, based on ten years of research, without the necessary support. Andrew immediately showed an understanding of the subject and above all a keen sense of the form it needed to take for presentation to editors. With patience and insight, he has encouraged me to find a commercial and lucid format for the wide-ranging material.


"I left the regular army just before Christmas 1991, not entirely sure what I wanted to do but absolutely certain that I didn't want to become a corporate drone of any sort. Still in the first flush of freedom, and thinking that writing a book might be a good idea, my girlfriend (now my wife) dragged me, kicking and screaming, to a pre-Christmas drinks party with some friends of hers. Hovering closely by the wine and canapas, I started talking to a pleasant chap who, it seemed, had been told I'd just left the army. The conversation moved on to what I was planning to do now; I told him I was thinking about writing a book (I already had an idea, which I'd worked out in some detail). Much to my surprise he told me he was a literary agent: what did I want to write about? I went home and posted him a copy of my synopsis (this was in the days before PCs and laser printers: my Amstrad PCW took about two hours to print a six page document). He sent it back: not good enough yet, but he'd take me on as a client. I rewrote the synopsis and, within three months, he'd got me my first book contract. Blimey! All of a sudden I was a professional writer."


"I had a number of proposals which I sent to various agents I found in The Writer’s Handbook. After looking at his website Andrew appealed above all the others as he seemed to have a particularly nurturing attitude towards his clients. I was therefore delighted when he called me the day after I’d sent my proposal to him with positive feedback and suggestions for another project in which I might be interested."


I have no idea how I came to be staring at Andrew Lownie’s website, but I suspect I had simply typed “literary agent” into Google. Andrew’s site must be cleverly designed, because it appears almost at the top of the first page of links. Having found the site, I read it and I liked it. It was straightforward, sensible and full of interesting information, and Andrew himself sounded accessible and helpful. So I emailed my proposal to him, and was surprised to receive a call the very next day. His observations on my proposal were well organised and constructive, and I was pleased when he suggested that we work together. Just to be on the safe side, though, I checked his ratings on “PrEditors and Editors,” a site which gives the lowdown on agents and publishers. I was glad to see that he was well recommended, and I expect he was too!


"There was this publisher, this magazine editor and this literary agent . . . guests at a university information session. The literary agent was wonderfully young and wore a smart, red-striped shirt. He told the tale of a biographer whose book had been far too long, in spite of what he and the publisher had insisted. And how the book had sunk without trace. He talked simple good sense. I thought: 'if ever I need an agent - he's the one I'll ask to take me on'. And so I did."


"I read Andrew Lownie's article in the August 2008 issue of Writers' News and decided to ask him to take Dear Mr Bigelow on. To my delight he agreed. He had refusals but managed always to sustain my enthusiasm and hope. I have really appreciated being kept informed, promptly, of all the responses and glowed when others have found the letters as charming and witty as I did. I am so glad I asked for his help and that he has so quickly found a publisher who is thrilled by the letters too."


"Persia in the Great Game did not have an easy genesis. On the basis of a very rough synopsis, Caroline Knox, then the sainted senior commissioning editor at John Murray, agreed to publish it. To her embarrassment she shortly she had to tell me that, for only the second time in her long career at JM, she had been overruled. Kindly, she put me in touch with Andrew who, within a week, had an offer from a newly founded publisher. Shortly before the book was due to go to print the publisher folded. Not to be beaten, Andrew sent the now finished m/s back to Caroline, who this time was able to persuade JM to publish."


"Three years ago, resident in Spain and impatient with small commissions and trifling books that were good for nothing more than a few bottles of wine, I bought the Writers and Artist's Yearbook and picked out, almost at random, three agents who expressed an interest in "non-fiction' and then sent off a letter to each explaining my ambitions and projects. A week later the first of these replied with a card telling me that my proposals, while very promising, were not really his kind of thing and advised me to get in touch with "the history agent', 'A. Lownie'. Another week past and a second reply returned. Again all was very promising, but I should really get in touch with 'Andrew Lownie' who was the best man for the kinds of books that I wanted to write. As the third of my original letters had, in fact, been to a certain Andrew Lownie I felt that destiny had taken a hand and waited every postman's delivery with trepidation. The letter never came. But after a fortnight I got an email from Andrew with an invitation for more detailed proposals."

About article author

Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie was born in 1961 and was educated in Britain and America. He read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he was President of the Union. He went on to gain an MSc at Edinburgh University and spend a year at the College of Law in London. After a period as a bookseller and jour...More about Andrew Lownie