Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dorothy Lumley remembered by Jenny Harper

Dot Lumley (left), with Gill Stewart
at the RNA Conference in Penrith.
Dorothy Lumley, agent at Dorian Literary Agency in Torquay, sadly passed away a few days ago.

Dot will be remembered by many writers across a number of genres, in particular for her incisive insights and her willingness to spend time helping aspiring writers to pinpoint weaknesses and rectify them. She once told me she hated a novel I had written, and why. She suggested I leave it, but first go through the exercise of doing a chapter-by-chapter analysis of what I had written so that I could see the flaws in the structure.

I took her up on the challenge, wrestled with it, replanned and reshaped, and decided to rewrite as well. The result? She wrote to me, 'I've now finished reading your book and I have one word for it: Fab-u-lous!'

Sadly, though, the book was not snapped up, and a couple of years later Dot and I parted company by mutual consent. I promised I'd buy her a drink when that book was published and I'm really sad that this will never now happen. I learnt a great deal about writing, thanks to her patience and willingness to coach, and I owe her a great debt.

When this blog started, Gwen Kirkwood, Gill Stewart and I were all represented by Dot, while Linda Mitchelmore shared the same writing group with her, in Devon. I'm sure they all have memories to treasure.




25 comments:

  1. That's a lovely tribute to someone I've heard much about, Jenny.

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    1. Thanks Rosemary. She will be missed.

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  2. Yes, I agree Jenny, Dot called a spade a spade and the tributes on romna and on google are evidence of her many kindnesses and the people she helped along their writing journey. She became my agent when I started writing again in 2000, after a six year break. She took a risk but said her faith in me to keep going had been rewarded. She was very brave and has done her best to put her business affairs in order to make things easier for all her clients going forward.
    Dot was very fond of flowers and plants and nature in general and she will have a woodland burial on 18th October 2013.Rest in peace Dot..

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    1. The funeral sounds lovely - hope the sun shines on her.

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  3. A fitting tribute, Jenny. I didn't know Dot but she does seem to have touched the lives of many writers and I'm sure will be missed.

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    1. She drove some of us to distraction sometimes! But she had many very strong assets, not least her perspicacity and willingness to give time.

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  4. Dot will be well and truly missed down here in Devon. Despite her heavy workload as an agent she was also a published novelist and - something I think hugely important - a very good and loyal friend. She never forgot a birthday of a group member. She always had a gentle smile on her face - even through her illness - and a very calm way of speaking. I feel honoured to have known her and to have spent so much time in her company. Thanks for your tribute, Jenny.

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  5. I gather she was very brave. I'm glad her family were with her at the end.

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    1. Dot was extremely upbeat about the whole, horrid, illness. She kept working almost right to the end and that gentle smile never left her face....it is so sad. She went well before her time. She said she wasn't angry about the illness, but she was sad that she wouldn't now have the life she might have done.

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  6. So so sad to hear about Dot. She was a good agent and a good friend. She also took the time, when I mentioned to her that one of my sons wsn't reading much any more, to look out books she thought might interest them and send them to me - and he loved them! Just a small example of how she made that extra effort.

    A lovely tribute Jenny, she'll be much missed.

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    1. What a lovely story, Gill. And glad it worked!

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  7. How sad for all of you who knew Dot so well. I've heard so much about her - everything reflecting the experiences recalled here. A lovely tribute, Jenny.

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  8. A wonderful tribute. I was so very sad to hear Dot had passed away. I was another writer she had taken the time to help and encourage. I will forever be grateful to her and will always remember her with a smile. Lovely Dot Lumley. R.I.P.

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    1. Thanks Janice. Good photo, isn't it? Captures Dot and Gill really well.

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    2. It is a lovely photo and Dot looks much younger than I had imagined her.

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  9. I never met Dot but she did once decide my first three chapters merited a full read. She was so positive in her response that it qualified as a 'rave rejection' - and (if you look back to my blog of May this year) she was 'heartbroken by the death of Willow, as real a character as any of the human ones'.

    I'm so sorry I never met her.

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  10. I'm glad she'll be remembered for her kindness as well as for her perspicacity.

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  11. I am not a member of the RNA, nor even a novelist, but I am a writer and through the Brixham Writers' knew Dot and admired and respected her as a friend. One of the days I shall remember is a walk with Dot along our coastline and afternoon tea with her when we tucked into cakes with gusto. Her knowledge of the literary world was impressive. I hope she now rests in peace in her woodland setting.
    Margaret Powling

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  12. That's a lovely memory Margaret, thank you for sharing it. Good luck with your writing!

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  13. Thank you ... I write mainly on antiques, historic houses and garden, social history, etc. I have a monthly antiques column in Period Ideas which is great fun to research/write.

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    1. How lovely. I love antiques - maybe you even saw me on Bargain Hunt!

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  14. Oh, I'd loved to have seen you on Bargain Hunt. Ten years ago there was a series on (the then) Carlton TV, Treasures in the Attic, or some such title and I was featured. In the prog, Tim Wonnacott visited our home and looked at some of my 'treasures' and while this was going on, a young woman was making craft things in our kitchen (being filmed, of course); the next day we went to a fine arts sale room and I was asked to choose which piece I would choose - which was a small coffee can as it was a very early piece of English porcelain but when I began to explain why I chose it and started on the history I was quickly interrupted ... it wouldn't have looked good for me to know anything about the subject, would it! But it was great fun, and Tim is a lovely person - what you see is really what you get.

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