Agent interview: Catherine Clarke

Catherine Clarke is a literary agent and managing director at Felicity Bryan Associates.

Catherine Clarke represents a broad range of writers of serious non-fiction, including history, nature writing, biography, and philosophy. She also represents a number of bestselling and prizewinning writers for children and young adults. In 2017 she was named Literary Agent of the Year at the British Book Awards. You can view more about her here.

What are your favourite nature writing books?

Kathleen Jamie’s Findings, Helen McDonald’s H is for Hawk, Roger Deakin’s Waterlog, Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places, Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, John Lister-Kaye’s The Dun Cow Rib, Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory . . . I couldn’t possibly choose! I haven’t read Isabella Tree’s Wilding yet but it’s top of the summer list!

Who is your favourite nature writer?

I have many, but I dip back into Roger Deakin’s books more than others.

What is the mark of a successful proposal for narrative non-fiction, and what do you look for particularly?

I look for crisp and lyrical writing; surprises – things I didn’t know or hadn’t thought about in a particular way – and a sense of emotional depth, why the author’s encounters with wildness are significant, shaped into a layered story.

Where is your favourite place in the natural world to read and edit?

For reading and editing, I have two favourite spots: the treehouse my husband built in our suburban Oxford garden overlooking the canal – it is the playground of squirrels and birds and spiders and in summer it is mostly hidden by horse chestnut leaves. The other is the sun room of a house on Islay looking across to Bowmore, with a lot of changing sky and sea and weather.