Watson, Little Ltd Literary Agency celebrates its 50th anniversary

Tuesday 9th February 2021

Watson, Little Ltd is delighted to announce it is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Originally incorporated as Bolt and Watson Ltd in February 1971, the agency began when David Bolt and Sheila Watson – both senior directors at David Higham Associates at the time – left to start their own company. Among the clients they brought with them were Chinua Achebe, Dennis Enright, and Colin Wilson.

Mandy Little joined Bolt & Watson in 1981 as a literary agent, becoming a director two years later when the company divided into David Bolt Associates and Watson, Little Ltd. Sheila and Mandy built the company to include a wide range of fiction and non-fiction for both adults and children.

Their adult list broadened to include more commercial fiction authors, while also developing a considerable reputation for serious non-fiction, particularly in the areas of psychology, archaeology and health, as well as in commercial non-fiction, children`s books, and illustration.

Today Mandy retains her role as company chairman, while the agency’s four active literary agents – Managing Director James Wills, Laetitia Rutherford, Donald Winchester, and Megan Carroll – are all busily building and developing client lists of great breadth. Rights Director Rachel Richardson sells translation rights in territories across the world, and Ciara McEllin handles audio rights.

The agency’s eclecticism stretches from commercial crime to literary fiction, serious history to popular science, children’s fiction and children’s non-fiction, and from graphic novelists to illustrators of all kinds. The agency is also working to bring new life to its literary estates, including the likes of Cyprian Ekwensi, Mary Jane Staples, and Elizabeth Lemarchand. Watson, Little is also a long-standing and active member of the Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA), with two of its current employees having served on the AAA committee.

The Bookseller did a profile of the agency and interview of MD James Wills, which can be seen here.

Mandy Little, Chairman, said:

‘When I joined what was still, briefly, Bolt & Watson, we were thinking of how to celebrate its 10thanniversary and here we are at Watson, Little raising glasses to 50 years of the company.  I joined with a background in film and marketing to find publishing largely run as a cottage industry by men in suits who routinely did business over four-hour lunches!   I`ve watched publishing change gradually over forty years to become the industry it now is and have enjoyed the journey Watson, Little has taken to keep abreast of so much change.’


James Wills, Managing Director, said:

‘I am proud to have worked at Watson, Little since 2003, over a third of its history. I was extremely fortunate to have two of the very best agents and mentors to guide me, in Sheila Watson and Mandy Little. As we at the agency reflect on fifty remarkable years, and raise a glass to Sheila and Mandy for all they have achieved, I am thrilled to say that with our current team, we are now better placed than ever to serve our amazing list of authors and illustrators. This has been a tough year for so many of us, but I am hugely excited for the future, and for another fifty years filled with wonderful books.’


The agency plans to celebrate the anniversary more fully in coming months, when Covid restrictions allow. There will also be an article profiling the agency in The Bookseller. Stay tuned for announcements!