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Marie Brown

Literary agent and publishing consultant, Marie Dutton Brown was born on October 4, 1940 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Josephine and Benson Dutton. Brown attended a Catholic elementary school and a public high school. She graduated from Germantown High School in 1958 and went on to Penn State University where she received her B.S degree in 1962.

Brown became a teacher for the Philadelphia Public School System in 1963. In 1965, as a multicultural coordinator, she helped to introduce multicultural education into the school system, which included African American history.

In 1967, Brown decided to take a different direction in her career. She took a position as a general publishing trainee at Doubleday Book Publishing in New York City, but in 1969, she married and relocated with her husband to California. There, from 1969 until 1972, Brown worked in bookstores and did freelance work. Then, she returned to New York City and to Doubleday Book Publishing as a senior editor.

Brown went on to become the Editor-In-Chief of Elan magazine in 1982 and sales manager and assistant buyer for Endicott Booksellers in 1984. At a time when publishers were no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts, Brown decided to take her expertise and open her own literary agency, Marie Brown and Associates in Harlem, New York, becoming one of the few African American agents in the book world. Her agency provided marketing, promotions and consulting along with publishing. In 1990, Brown began to concentrate on book publishing because she cherished the idea of working creatively and developmentally with the authors. Brown has represented authors Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Randall Robinson, Dr. Johnetta Cole, Susan Taylor and Van Whitfield.

Brown is on the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Cultural Center, To Be Continued Kids Theater and Frank Silvera Black Theater.

Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.003

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/8/2007

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Schools

Germantown High School

George P. Phenix School

St. Vincent de Paul School

Washington Junior High School

Ford Green Elementary School

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Pennsylvania State University Abington Campus

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marie

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BRO40

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/4/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Literary agent, magazine editor, and book editor Marie Brown (1940 - ) opened her own literary agency, Marie Brown and Associates in Harlem, New York, becoming one of the few African American agents in the book world. Brown represented authors Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Randall Robinson, Dr. Johnetta Cole, Susan Taylor and Van Whitfield.

Employment

Gen. Louis Wagner Junior High School

Philadelphia Public Schools

Doubleday Publishing Company

Endicott Booksellers

Marie Brown Associates

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marie Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marie Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marie Brown describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marie Brown describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marie Brown describes her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marie Brown describes her parents' jobs during college

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marie Brown describes her grandparents' property ownership

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marie Brown describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marie Brown describes her parents' college education and occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marie Brown describes her parents' social activities at Hampton Institute

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marie Brown describes her early childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marie Brown describes the sounds of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marie Brown describes her elementary school experiences in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marie Brown describes the May Day festivities at Hampton Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marie Brown describes her childhood activities in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marie describes her family and their move to Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marie Brown describes the assemblies at Ford Greene Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marie Brown recalls attending Nashville's St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marie Brown describes her early love for reading

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marie Brown describes her childhood activities in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marie Brown describes her neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marie Brown recalls her experiences as a Girl Scout

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marie Brown recalls attending George E. Washington Junior High School in Nashville

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marie Brown describes her favorite music as a teenager in Nashville

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marie Brown recalls her parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marie Brown describes Nashville's country music

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marie Brown recalls her academic experience at George E. Washington Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marie Brown recalls attending Nashville's Pearl High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marie Brown describes her teachers at Nashville's Pearl High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marie Brown recalls moving to Philadelphia in her late teenage years

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marie Brown recalls adjusting at Philadelphia's Germantown High School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marie Brown recalls her decision to attend Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marie Brown recalls her transition to college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marie Brown recalls pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marie Brown recalls adjusting to Pennsylvania State University's campus life

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marie Brown recalls studying psychology at Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marie Brown recalls teaching at General Louis Wagner Junior High School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marie Brown recalls working as education coordinator in Philadelphia's public schools

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marie Brown remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marie Brown remembers the integration of Philadelphia's public schools

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marie Brown recalls being offered a position at Doubleday and Company Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marie Brown recalls the trainee program at Doubleday and Company Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marie Brown recalls working as an editorial assistant for Loretta Barrett

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marie Brown recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marie Brown describes her work experiences in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marie Brown recalls her husband's cartoon work and their life in Los Angeles

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marie Brown recalls returning to Doubleday and Company Inc. as an editor

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marie Brown describes the books she edited at Doubleday and Company Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marie Brown explains the role of a book editor

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marie Brown describes the process of publishing a book

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marie Brown recalls working with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Doubleday and Company Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marie Brown recalls becoming editor in chief of Elan magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marie Brown recalls her unemployment after Elan magazine ceased publication

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marie Brown remembers working at New York City's Endicott Booksellers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marie Brown recalls her experiences as a literary agent

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marie Brown talks about the authors she represented as a literary agent

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marie Brown explains how she built her clientele as a literary agent

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marie Brown describes her lifelong friends

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marie Brown reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marie Brown shares her message to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marie Brown describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marie Brown reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marie Brown narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$5

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Marie Brown recalls her experiences as a literary agent
Marie Brown recalls working with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Doubleday and Company Inc.
Transcript
It's 1983, I guess, I think--$$Um-hm.$$--we're in '83 [1983] 'cause you, you stayed there until '84 [1984].$$Um-hm.$$At the Endicott Booksellers [New York, New York] and you're having a hard time getting a job as an editor.$$Um-hm.$$Okay. So tell me about Endicott. How do you, you stay there for another year and then what happens?$$I stayed at Endicott for a year, I was, and I became assistant buyer and assistant manager. And one of my young mentees, Gerald Gladly [ph.] who was an editor at Doubleday [Doubleday and Company Inc.; Knopf Doubleday Publishing Company, New York, New York], called me and asked me if I would consider agenting one of the authors that he was taking on and that author was Randy Taraborrelli [J. Randy Taraborrelli], who has now since become, you know, a mega writer of celebrity bios. And Randy at the time was, I think, the president of the Diana Ross Fan Club or something like that. He was very young then and he was, so he wanted to do a Diana Ross fan book ['Diana: A Celebration of the Life and Career of Diana Ross,' J. Randy Taraborrelli] and Gerald wanted to publish that. And he also later did a book on the history of Motown ['Motown: Hot Wax, City Cool and Solid Gold,' J. Randy Taraborrelli]. So he needed an agent because this was in a period where now the publishers were really requiring most of the books that they acquired to be agented because so many manuscripts were being submitted because technology had changed the picture with the copying machines people could make many copies (laughter) of their manuscripts and send them to many publishers and there was a lot more submission of manuscripts happening than publishers could really handle so they found that okay, we can require that there be agents to represent these writers so at least they'll be some kind of, you know, filtering process. So I told Gerald, "Oh, well, okay," reluctantly, I will agent, you know, these manuscripts. And so I took on Randy for the first two or three, two projects. And then he wanted to switch over and write more critical kinds of books, well, where, you know, he could really get into their lives, he was no longer the fan, he was gonna really go into, you know, all of the other aspects of their lives, not just the good but the bad and the ugly. And so I felt like I couldn't represent those kinds of books, I don't know where my head was then but that was where it was and so. But eventually I started acquiring other clients because as I mentioned, you know, the publishers were requiring people to have agents so people were sending me manuscripts and I started out, you know, just representing a very few authors but I was able to do this because I had worked at Doubleday and one of the reasons that one can agent somewhat successfully is that you have editorial contacts in other houses. And by this time there had been, you know, a lot of turnover in publishing so I knew at least one person in every publishing house 'cause I had worked with them when they were editors at Doubleday, so I was able to at least have someone to submit to. And then from those people you find out others and when they move around, so that's how my business got started, you know, I would submit to the editors I knew and then subsequently meet other editors or those editors would acquire some of the authors that I was representing. And I was able to sustain myself through, you know, those tough times also doing freelance editorial work, putting together a newsletter for the National Minority Supplier Development Council which I did right here on this place, we did newsletters, we packaged books, I did books, you know, how to books on how to raise your pet, how to raise your dog, how to raise your cat, how to, you know, enter the stock market, whatever was necessary, I mean, I did it as it was, as it related to, you know, packaging and producing or selling books. And those were the early days of Marie Brown Associates [New York, New York].$During the time that you were at Doubleday [Doubleday and Company Inc.; Knopf Doubleday Publishing Company, New York, New York], I'm just stepping back a few--$$Um-hm.$$--cause I, I just thought of something. Well, I, I, I don't know, I guess, this is the question but Jackie Onassis [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis] worked at Doubleday, didn't she?$$Um-hm.$$Was she there while you were there?$$Um-hm, yes, she was. I'm smiling because this is really a funny story. There's a lot to Jackie Onassis having been there. But when I was an editor, she came to Doubleday. And I remember clearly, looking up from my desk and seeing Jackie Onassis standing at the door with someone who was taking her around to introduce her to editors and people in other departments. And it's just, it, it was just amazing, just to see her standing there. But I stood up to go and greet her and my pocketbook was (laughter) on the floor right by my desk which I hadn't seen and I go (making sounds) (laughter) all over, what a grand introduction. I said oops, at least I didn't fall on the floor. But there, I remember that, you know, tripping, I said okay, hi, and she says, "Hi, I'm Jackie Onassis," and I said, "I know, (laughter) you know, it was so great to meet you." And then, you know, and we talked on a couple occasions about book projects. And then I left to become an agent and I had sent her a project on [HistoryMaker] Katherine Dunham, Miss Dunham's memoir and she called me to talk about it, you know, and I just really could not still believe that she was on the telephone because this was before I moved into the whole house which was another story but my office used to be right there in that little small space there and I can see myself picking up the phone, "Hi, this is Jackie Onassis," and I'm just like, I don't believe this, you know. And she called to tell me why she couldn't acquire the book, you know, because she's really couldn't convince the powers that be at Doubleday. But she told me that she remembered seeing Miss Dunham dance in Paris [France] when she was there and how important she was to her cultural development in experiencing, you know, Katherine Dunham's dance. And then she also called me about Vertamae Grosvenor [Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor] because she really wanted Verta to do this book on her life when she married Bobby Grosvenor [Robert Grosvenor], because the Grosvenors and the Auchinclosses, had been neighbors up in Hyannis Port [Massachusetts] or where ever up on the Cape [Cape Cod, Massachusetts], where ever they were raised (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Martha's Vineyard [Massachusetts].$$And she knew Bobby Grosvenor when he was a young man and she knew all the family and all of that but then when Verta married into the Grosvenor family, because he's with the Grosvenors of the National Geographic and all of that, that was just another whole experience for, you know, this family and all of that. And she would say, "Well, I just don't know why she doesn't wanna write this," I mean, she wanted to write it but she could never get around to writing it so, you know, we had several conversations. And then she was a great supporter of the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center [New York, New York] which is still in existence. Budd, Budd Schulberg was one of the founders along with Fred Hudson of the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center which is a, an organization that supports black arts and artists, you know, in New York [New York] through workshops, seminars, and productions. And I remember Budd saying well, we have to get together and have lunch with Jackie. And so he and Fred and I went to lunch with her and it was just a great experience and I, it was a rainy day just like this and we had lunch on a, somewhere in the 50s between Madison [Avenue] and Park [Avenue]. And then, you know, she said, okay. And then she just said, "I'm going, now, I'm going, I'm just gone take a half day with work and just jump on the bus and go home." And she, I said I could imagine those people on the (laughter) Madison Avenue bus seeing her get on the bus, you know. But, you know, she was just that way. She was just, you know, very accessible. And she, people would ask me, "Did she come to work?" I said, yeah. She, you know, she does, you know. She was serious about her editing (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Okay.$$--and about her job.