In Remembrance: Rebecca Swift - The Literary Consultancy

In Remembrance: Rebecca Swift

April 21, 2017 | Other News, Press & Publicity

It is with heavy hearts that we share with our readers, colleagues, friends and writers the following statement. Please may we ask that the privacy of Becky’s family and friends be respected at this difficult time, and please note that the TLC office will be shut for a short period, re-opening in early May 2017. We thank our clients for their forbearance, and we would like especially to thank the support of Fiona McMorrough at FMcM and the Swift family in preparing this statement.

With our best wishes,

Aki Schilz and Joe Sedgwick, TLC


The Literary Consultancy has announced the death of its Founder and Director Rebecca Swift, who passed away peacefully on April 18th following a short illness.

Rebecca co-founded The Literary Consultancy (TLC), the UK’s first editorial consultancy for writers, in 1996 with Hannah Griffiths after they worked together at Virago Press. The model for TLC was an original, visionary idea, with an aim to bridge the gap between writers, agents and publishers. Since its inception the consultancy has offered professional editing and mentoring services to thousands of aspiring, emerging and established writers on both a fee-paying and bursaried basis – funding from Arts Council England enabling it to deliver a nation-wide Free Reads scheme for low income and marginalised writers. TLC has supported many writers to publication in various formats, including Jenny Downham (Before I Die, David Fickling), Tina Seskis (One Step Too Far, HarperCollins), Penny Pepper (First in the World Somewhere, Unbound), Neamat Imam (The Black Coat, Periscope) and Kerry Young (Pao, Bloomsbury).

As well as being a writers’ champion, Rebecca was also a gifted programmer and curator, setting up the UK’s first digital conference aimed at writers in 2012, ‘Writing in a Digital Age’ at Free Word Centre, a collective operating at the intersection of literature, literacy and free expression at which TLC is a Founding Resident. Tutors and speakers programmed by Rebecca and her team have included Hari Kunzru, Kate Mosse, Prue Leith, Jacob Ross, Abi Morgan, Max Porter, Lemn Sissay, Elif Shafak, Margaret Busby and many more publishing luminaries.

In a statement, TLC’s Editorial Services Manager Aki Schilz, who will lead the company as its new Director from May 2017, said:

“It is with huge sadness that we say goodbye to one of the leading lights of the publishing industry. Becky was a visionary, an innovator, and a staunch and tireless defender of writers and of literary values. She was also a talented poet and librettist, a mentor, a friend, colleague, beloved daughter, partner, sister, aunt and godmother, and a true literary hero. 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. Becky was surrounded by loved ones in her final months and it will be of no surprise to anyone that she remained spirited to the end, insisting on lightness and song, films, and time in the gardens observing the falling cherry blossom. She had an extraordinary gift for friendship evident in the many emails we have already received from all over the publishing world, as well as from our brilliant and talented team of readers, many of whom have been with us since the early days of TLC, a testament to the loyalty Becky inspired. The time ahead will be challenging, but it was Becky’s wish for TLC to continue, and I am honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to fulfil that wish, with the blessing of her family and the support of our incredible team: my esteemed colleague Joe Sedgwick, the Board, our brilliant readers, our regional literature development partners, and our extended TLC family of writers whose interests remain at the heart of what we do and believe in.”

For all media enquiries please contact Fiona McMorrough at FMcM Associates on 020 7405 7422 or email fionam@fmcm.co.uk