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Michel's defection from William Morris to PFD

The book news sites and this morning's papers (ok, not the red tops then) are reporting Caroline Michel's defection from William Morris to rivals PFD. What was particularly engaging about the reporting of this story was not Michel's 'defection' (as though literary firms should somehow be immune to talent hopping) but of the speculation of Pat Kavanagh's reaction to the new appointment. Kavanagh is one of PFD's leading agents and also wife of Julian Barnes. Now, ask yourself whether the star agent had been a man, and the 'defector' had also been male, and would they really be asking the same question? It automatically implies this 'cattiness' is inherent between women at work. If you take biology out of the equation then the question that could be asked more often in similiar stories is, how will this 'surprise' implanting of a new director into a firm affect the existing employees? Isn't that something which is more often overlooked? I happen to have sent quite a bit of my work to Pat Kavanagh over the last few years and, for one of the best agents in literature, she always took the time to reply to me with a personally crafted letter that referred directly to the work I had sent her and which also added bits of observation, for which I was really grateful. Future stories on this defection won't, you can be assured, really focus on Michel, but on the cat fights the press would love to imagine between her and Kavanagh. I have more thoughts thrashing about on this common reaction towards women versus women at work, which I hope to post later.

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