Russell and Volkening

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Russell and Volkening is one of New York's oldest literary agencies, opened in 1940 by Diarmuid Russell and Henry Volkening. They represented some of the most noted writers in the history of American publishing, including Eudora Welty, Bernard Malamud, Anne Tyler, George Plimpton, Barbara Tuchman, Saul Bellow, Ann Petry, A. J. Liebling, and Nadine Gordimer. In 1972, they sold their agency to Timothy Seldes, formerly the Managing Editor of Doubleday, Vice President of Macmillan, and Assistant Publisher of The New York Post .

Diarmuid Russell was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1902. He was the son of George (AE) Russell, who, among other things, was the editor of The Irish Homestead, with James Joyce, and, later, of The Irish Statesman . Diarmuid worked at The Irish Statesman as editorial assistant for three years after his graduation from The Royal College of Science, Dublin in 1925. In 1929 he emigrated to the United States and worked in a number of cities and in different fields before moving to New York City in 1935 to accept a position in the editorial department at G. P. Putnam. He enjoyed his work at Putnam until he realized that publishers were interested more in making money for themselves than for the author. Maxwell Perkins had for many years been trying to convince Russell to open a literary agency with Henry Volkening. In 1940, Russell left Putnam and took Perkins' advice. Russell died in 1973.

Henry Volkening was born in 1902 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton in 1923. He received a master's degrees in literature from Harvard University and in law from Fordham University. He was an instructor in English at New York University before he left to form the agency with Russell in 1940. Volkening died in 1972.

As of 2010, Russell and Volkening is still representing some of America's best authors. With a backlist filled with such canonized talents as Eudora Welty, Bernard Malamud, Ann Petry, A.J. Liebling and Barbara Tuchman and a front list that includes Anne Tyler, Annie Dillard, Nadine Gordimer and Jim Lehrer, among many others, they championed a diversity of authors writing across genres. Seldes, current (and long running) head of the agency, has been in the business for over fifty years and is well known throughout the industry. They handle fiction, non-fiction, and children's books, focusing on quality of writing and literary merit across the board.

From the guide to the Russell and Volkening records, 1940-2008, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Diarmuid Russell letters to Pascal Covici, 1945 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
referencedIn Malamud, Bernard. Bernard Malamud papers, 1930-1989 (bulk 1949-1986). Library of Congress
referencedIn Bernard Malamud Papers, 1930-1989, (bulk 1949-1986) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Russell and Volkening. Russell and Volkening records, 1940-2008. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn "A Tale of Revenge" short story, [1950] University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
creatorOf Russell and Volkening records, 1940-2008 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Gore Vidal papers, 1850-2020 (inclusive), 1936-2008 (bulk) Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 1878-1957 person
associatedWith Gallant, Mavis person
associatedWith Gallant, Mavis. person
associatedWith Malamud, Bernard. person
associatedWith Malamud, Bernard. person
associatedWith Morris, Wright, 1910-1998. person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Petry, Ann, 1908-1997. person
associatedWith Plimpton, George person
associatedWith Plimpton, George. person
associatedWith Russell, Diarmuid, d. 1973 person
associatedWith Russell, Diarmuid, d. 1973. person
associatedWith Sarton, May, 1912-1995. person
associatedWith Seldes, Timothy person
associatedWith Seldes, Timothy. person
associatedWith Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. person
correspondedWith Vidal, Gore, 1925- person
associatedWith Volkening, Henry T. person
associatedWith Welty, Eudora, 1909-2001. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
Literary agents--20th century
Publishers and publishing--20th century
Publishers and publishing--New York (State)--New York--20th century
Literary agents--New York (State)--New York--20th century
Literary agents
Literary agents

Corporate Body

Active 1940

Active 2008



Ark ID: w6hx6h3m

SNAC ID: 34034607