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Subject: Graham Watson, Literary Agent

Dies at 89
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Date Posted: November 21, 2002 7:29:16 EDT

The British literary agent Graham Watson, who represented authors ranging from John Steinbeck to Gore Vidal in their dealings with British publishers, died last Thursday in Rye, in southern England. He was 89.

For more than 30 years, until his retirement in 1976, Mr. Watson worked at Curtis Brown, then considered the best London literary agency, and represented more than 40 authors, including Daphne du Maurier, Hammond Innes and Harold Macmillan. He was also the agency's managing director for his last 15 years there.

Born into a wealthy family in Newcastle, Mr. Watson met writers like G. K. Chesterton at public forums organized by his grandfather, Angus Watson, an entrepreneur and politician. Educated at Cambridge University, he served a yearlong apprenticeship at a printer's before joining the publishing firm of Nicholson & Watson, which his grandfather had created to publish religious works and political memoirs.

During World War II, Mr. Watson served with the Royal Artillery, then joined The Spectator, the magazine of which his grandfather had become the majority shareholder.

He joined Curtis Brown in 1947, and quickly made a name for himself. One of his greatest successes was in the 1950's, when he persuaded the explorer Wilfred Thesiger to write about his adventures. Told by a wildlife writer that Thesiger had taken excellent photographs of the desert known as the Empty Quarter of Arabia, Mr. Watson visited Thesiger and spent three hours talking him into writing a text for them.

His persistence eventually led to Thesiger's two classics of travel literature, "Arabian Sands" and "The Marsh Arabs."

Mr. Watson is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and their two daughters.

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