The Literary Consultancy was founded in 1996 by Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, now an Editorial Director at Faber & Faber. While working as an editorial assistant at Virago Press, Rebecca realised that there was no professional, trustworthy editorial consultancy for writers to send work to for manuscript assessment before they approached publishers and agents. Many people writing seemed to know very little of the basics of what publishers and agents expected, and that agents and publishers never had the time to explain in detail what they really felt about a writer’s work.
“The Literary Consultancy was invaluable to me for my first novel. I would not dream of sending a completed novel to my publisher without having TLC look at it first.”
Pru Leith OBE, author of bestselling Leaving Patrick
TLC was the first service of its kind to offer professional, in-depth editorial advice and assessment to anyone writing in the English language, anywhere in the world. It removed professional editorial feedback from the confines of the commercial publishing setting and into a more democratic arena. Despite initial concern that writers wouldn’t really want to know what an editor thought of their abilities, TLC found quite the opposite. The majority of clients were pleased to have a detailed editorial assessment from a professional who has carefully read and thought about their work, even if the final response is not a recommendation for publication. TLC has always operated with an ethos of honesty and spirit of independent thinking and believes that a constructive but firm response enables authors to get on – either with a re-write, a new writing project, or with other things in their lives.
Since TLC was founded the literary landscape and publishing industry have changed significantly, with many more resources and options available for writers and increased diversification due to new technologies. TLC has developed a wider range of services in addition to its central and original offer of manuscript assessment and become much more than a reading service. In 2001 TLC received its first tranch of ongoing core funding from Arts Council England. This enabled the provision of free reads known as ‘The Free Read Scheme’ and ‘Chapter and Verse’ – an Arts Council backed mentoring scheme. TLC now also programmes and runs literary events, writing workshops and holidays. In 2009, TLC became a founding member of the Free Word Centre, an international organisation for literature, literacy and freedom of expression, based in Farringdon in central London.
“If the NHS weren’t bankrupt, I’d say The Literary Consultancy should be available to writers on prescription.”
Who we are
Rebecca Swift: Director
Rebecca Swift read English at Oxford University and has since worked as an editor and writer. For seven years she worked at Virago Press, where she first conceived of the idea for TLC.
For Chatto & Windus she edited a volume of letters between Bernard Shaw and Margaret Wheeler, Letters from Margaret: The Fascinating Story of Two Babies Swapped at Birth (1992) and Imagining Characters: Six Conversations about Women Writers, a book of conversations between writer A.S. Byatt and psychoanalyst Ignes Sodre (1995).
A libretto written by Rebecca was funded by the Arts Council England, and commissioned by the Lontano Ensemble: the opera ‘Spirit Child’, composed by Jenni Roditi, was performed at Ocean in Hackney, London in 2001. Click here to hear the Prelude of ‘Spirit Child’. Rebecca has also written and reviewed for The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian. A biography of Emily Dickinson, Dickinson: Poetic Lives, came out in February 2011 with Hesperus Press and a piece for Granta online, ‘Generations‘ appeared June 2011.
Rebecca is a Trustee of the Writers’ Centre Norwich and the Maya Centre. In 1999 she completed an M.A. in Psychoanalytic Studies at the Tavistock Centre in London and UEL. Her thesis title was ARE YOU READING ME? An Exploration of the Relationship between people who write and those who read them in publishing and related industries.
Rebecca has appeared at numerous literary festivals and on many panels talking about the work of TLC and the relationship between writers and the publishing industry. She has taught poetry at West Dean College of Further Education, life-writing for the Hackney Music Development Trust and ‘Approaches to Publication’ for Skyros Writers’ Lab and TLC’s own Literary Adventure holiday.
Solvej Todd: Editorial Services Manager, Mentoring Co-ordinator, Website Editor and Free Read Scheme Co-ordinator
Solvej has a Bachelor in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a MA in English Literature from the University of Trondheim, Norway. She is also a certified teacher and has taught English language and literature in Norway, Denmark and England. In 2008, Solvej travelled to Beijing, and found herself working for The Beijing Bookworm company and their International Literary Festival. Solvej is in charge of the day-to-day running of the office and handles all submissions, manages our team of readers, co-ordinates the Arts Council funded Free Read Scheme, is responsible for our Chapter and Verse mentoring scheme, editing the content of our website and TLC’s marketing.
To contact any of the above, email: