Robert Harris is about with his new novel The Ghost, and in the Evening Standard today he addresses the topic of Caroline Michel, a friend of the former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine and new embattled boss of literary agency PFD. With spectacular froideur he reminds amnesiacs or the plain ignorant (eg gossip writers aged 24 working on the Standard’s Londoner’s Diary) that Michel “did not reinvent the wheel” at PFD. She and her bosses CSS Stellar are trying to make out that their multi-media plan for PFD is a commercial innovation, but as Harris says: “It’s hardly as if she has discovered something that has never been thought of before.
“I wrote Enigma and Pat Kavanagh is my agent and then Anthony Jones managed the film rights and the film was directed by Michael Apted and starred Kate Winslet and the screenplay was written by Tom Stoppard and we are all from PFD. This whole idea [of a multi-media agency] has been around for the past decade or so. It’s just a sop really. It is treating writers as commodities and you can’t just do that.”
Kavanagh has resigned and not been sacked from PFD – please note Londoner’s Diary! – and Harris will stay loyal to her when she moves on and sets up her own agency. The last I heard, Michel wanted to digest David Godwin’s agency in the PFD maw. What’s happening there, please?