Northwestern

Pinker, James B. Papers Edit

Summary

Identifier
AS5

Dates

  • 1900-1934 (Creation)

Extents

  • 111 Boxes (Whole)

Names

Subjects

Notes

  • Language of Materials

    English

  • Abstract

    The papers in the Pinker archive at Northwestern University cover the period 1904-1934. All the correspondence is incoming to J.B. Pinker either from clients or from the organizations, firms, and individuals with whom he, and later his sons, negotiated. The 111 boxes of the archive contain original client correspondence files and many files from publishers, periodicals, translators, printing firms, readers, illustrators, theatre managers, etc. as well as other literary and dramatic agents with whom the Pinkers dealt.

    The correspondence reflects the wide geographical range of the clients: from Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, India, and South Africa, as well as from European countries. The alphabetical files also include some general correspondence: inquiries as to Pinker's availability and fees, permission requests for quoting, performances of plays, translations, serialization in foreign periodicals, and for securing various rights to clients' works. Invoices, both professional and personal, and other miscellany are included here.

  • Biographical Information

    James Brand Pinker, 1863-1922, was the foremost British literary agent in the first third of the 20th century. First a foreign correspondent, then an editor of British periodicals from 1890 to 1896, he became a successful rival to Curtis Brown and to A.P. Watt, other early agents. Professional literary agents were a phenomenon of the late 19th century in Britain, a boon to authors struggling on their own to secure publication and to collect adequate royalties. Pinker was an energetic and highly effective agent for innumerable authors. Upon his sudden death in 1922, his sons carried on in his name until c.1940.

    As “Artistic and Literary Agent” (1911) or later as “Literary and Dramatic Agent” (1916), J.B. Pinker is known to have solicited and worked for well known authors as early as 1896. His permanent office was established at Talbot House, 9 Arundel Street, Strand, W.C., with the cable address, “Bookishly, London.” After 1922 and J.B. Pinker's death, his oldest son, Eric S., dealt with the clients - the firm being called James B. Pinker and Son. In 1925, another Pinker son, J. Ralph, joined the firm, running the London office as vice-president, while Eric established a New York branch. The firm still stayed as James B. Pinker and Son or J.B. Pinker and Son, Inc. in New York. The agency's description changed then to “Literary, Dramatic and Motion Picture (or Film) Agents.” The world depression definitely caused financial distress for Pinker clients and undoubtedly was a factor in the firm's demise. Both of the Pinker brothers served prison terms for embezzlement of client funds, an ignoble end to the agency's eminence.

  • Acquisition Information

    This collection was purchased from a dealer in 1951.

  • Processing Information

    Ellen V. Howe, April 1994.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

  • Scope and Contents

    Incoming correspondence from: established clients, publishers, periodicals, translators, illustrators, theatres, film agencies, law and business firms. Also general correspondence files for permissions, fees, inquiries and miscellany. The papers in the Pinker archive at Northwestern University cover the period 1904-1934. All the correspondence is incoming to J.B. Pinker either from clients or from the organizations, firms, and individuals with whom he, and later his sons, negotiated. The 111 boxes of the archive contain original client correspondence files and many files from publishers, periodicals, translators, printing firms, readers, illustrators, theatre managers, etc. as well as other literary and dramatic agents with whom the Pinkers dealt.

    The correspondence reflects the wide geographical range of the clients: from Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, India, and South Africa, as well as from European countries. Fifty per cent of the business came from Britain, thirty per cent was American, and the rest ‘foreign.’ Pinker's terms for clients under contract were a flat 10% fee on royalties and the stipulation that all of an author's work must be placed with him. The alphabetical files also include some general correspondence: inquiries as to Pinker's availability and fees, permission requests for quoting, performances of plays, translations, serialization in foreign periodicals, and for securing various rights to clients' works. Invoices, both professional and personal, and other miscellany are included here.

    Although letters to the various Pinkers from their most renowned clients are not in the Northwestern archive, there is much evidence in the publishers' files for their associations. The cross-references for H.G. Wells for whom Pinker acted as early as 1896, for Henry James for whom he was exclusive agent from 1901 until James's death in 1916, and briefly for Oscar Wilde and G.B. Shaw in the early 1900s are regrettably few. James B. Pinker's long years of effort for his good friends, Joseph Conrad and Arnold Bennett, are well known; their letters are published or in other collections. The Northwestern collection does contain a few references to Conrad and his works but innumerable references to Bennett and his novels and plays. There is repeated evidence for other renowned authors as Stephen Crane, Rudyard Kipling, Hugh Walpole, Walter de la Mare, Robert Graves, George Gissing, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Aldous and Julian Huxley, Katherine Mansfield, Compton Mackenzie, Leonard Woolf, Rebecca West, Ford Madox Ford, and for many others. Ford's wife, Violet Hunt, averred, “For literary accouchements we all had the same practitioner, JY-B (Pinker).” Conrad, who leaned on Pinker for money and advice as well as friendship, called him “The Pinker of agents.” There is evidence, both in the archive and in Northwestern's Mss collection, for J.B. Pinker's efforts to have D.H. Lawrence's early novels published in Britain, and it is well known that Joyce relied on Pinker during many of his years of self-exile.

    Client files to be found in the archive include Richard Aldington, Enid Bagnold, H.C. Bailey, J.J. Bell, Phyllis Bottome, Marjorie Bowen, Harold Brighouse, Lawrence Housman and many others who wrote and were published between 1904-1934, and who relied on the Pinkers, father and sons, to serve as their literary, dramatic or film agent.

    The names of the established Pinker clients, 1904-1934, are listed alphabetically in a guide which includes the publishing houses, periodicals, theatre agents, law, book and major business concerns. The small amount of general correspondence precedes each alphabetical division.

    The cross-references to Pinker clients are in a separate guide and are complete. These cross-references reflect the breadth of authors' names in the Pinker agency, even if certain clients' actual letter tiles are no longer in the archive.

Components