About the agency

Robert Smith Literary Agency Limited was set up in 1997 to seek out quality non-fiction authors with original and well researched book ideas. We work closely with our authors to develop their books, so that they have strong editorial and commercial appeal, enabling us to obtain the best possible advances and terms from publishers.


As long-standing members of AAA (The Association of Authors’ Agents), we are up-to-date with the latest industry intelligence to further and protect our authors’ interests.


Agency News

December 2019

2019 has been another spectacular year of achievement by Robert Smith Literary Agency for its clients.


TV Documentaries and Drama Series in 2019


ITV’s hit six-part series in autumn 2019; A Confession attracted seven million viewers, piling on week to week viewing figures at a rate, which was only exceeded by Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off.


Former D. Supt. Stephen Fulcher, the officer who obtained a voluntary confession from Christopher Halliwell to the separate murders of two girls, wrote the tie-in book to A Confession, Catching A Serial Killer, published by Ebury Press in 2017.  He was played brilliantly by Martin Freeman, while Karen Edwards, the mother of one of the murdered girls, had her own book, A Killer’s Confession, published by Headline a few days before the series was aired in September and October 2019.  Karen’s role was memorably played by the matchless Imelda Staunton.


Coming up in January 2020, is another true crime, prime time ITV series, White House Farm starring Freddie Fox (playing Jeremy Bamber, who murdered his entire family), Stephen Graham and Cressida Bonas.  It is based on The Murders At White House Farm by our immensely talented and popular author, Carol Ann Lee, and was published by Pan Macmillan in 2015.

                   STOP PRESS      25th February 2020ITV’s blockbuster series, White House Farm, is currently riding high at No.1 in Broadcast’s official chart of consolidated viewing figures, which includes catch-up.  Episode 4 takes the number of viewers up to a mighty 8.06 million.  And on Sunday 23rd February, Carol Ann Lee’s book The Murders At White House Farm rose to No. 8 in the Sunday Times chart of General Paperback Bestsellers.


A major documentary was aired in October 2019 on BBC2 based on Ann Ming’s book, For The Love of Julie, published by HarperCollins in 2008.  It told the gut-wrenching story of how she overturned the 800 year-old law of Double Jeopardy, to get her daughter’s killer convicted.  A four-part TV drama series is in development.


Dead in the Water by Penny Farmer, published by John Blake in 2018, has both a documentary and a TV drama series underway, based on her book.  Penny recounts her family’s 30-year battle to bring to justice the serial killer, Silas Boston, who had murdered Penny’s brother and his girlfriend, aboard a boat off the coast of Guatemala in 1978.  Earlier this year, the book was also the subject of a 17-part podcast by Dan Maudsley for BBC Radio 5 Live.


Publishing Highlights of 2019


From the whole range of authors and books represented by the Agency and published in 2019, I would pick:


James Reed

James Reed is chairman of REED, the UK’s best-known recruitment agency, which employs over 3,500 people.  A prolific author, he has published two books this year:

  • The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview, Ebury Press
  • The Happy Recruiter: The 7 Ways to Succeed, Ebury Press


Carol Ann Lee

Somebody’s Mother, Somebody’s Daughter is Carol’s in-depth investigation of the women attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper.  It was published by Michael O’Mara in March 2019, and is yet another of her books actively in development for a TV drama series.


Robert Driscoll

Sergeant Rob Driscoll’s Lethal Shot: A Royal Marine Commando in Action, published by John Blake in May 2019, recalls his tours in Iraq, Kuwait and Kosovo, and most recently, three tours in Afghanistan.  He relives the day that his fellow NCO in 42 Commando, Sergeant Alexander Blackman controversially shot dead a wounded Taliban fighter.


Tara O’Shaughnessey

In her candidly honest memoir, Survivor, published by Ebury Press in July 2019, Tara tells the extraordinary story of her sexually abusive childhood in the Channel Islands, fleeing to London and Cardiff into a lifestyle of gangsters and prostitution, always in extreme danger.  She successfully turns her life around, breaking the cycle of abuse, when she saves her daughter from being in harm’s way.


Charles Barne

Charles is the editor of Churchill’s Colonel, a comprehensive selection of fascinating diary entries written during World War II by his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Barne, and published by Pen & Sword in October 2019.  From Colonel Barne’s intimate war diaries, we learn his private thoughts and commentary on the war, as Commander of his Regiment in Montgomery’s victorious Eighth Army throughout the 1942/43 North African Campaign.  The book culminates in the pivotal battle of the war for the control of El Alamein and the defeat of Rommel’s army.  He was then appointed Commander of Churchill’s old regiment, the 4th Hussars, for the sweep of the Allies through Mussolini’s Italy in 1944.


Graham McCann

Graham, the ultimate author of definitive books on British TV’s greatest comedy series, including Dad’s Army, Morecambe & Wise and Dave Allen, assisted the great Billy Connolly in the production of his Christmas 2019 Sunday Times bestseller, Tall Tales and Wee Stories: The Best of Billy Connolly, published by Two Roads in October 2019.


Roberta Kray

Stolen, the latest bestselling crime thriller by the agency’s sole fiction author, was published in hardback in November 2019 (and will be paperbacked in March 2020) by Little, Brown. This 17th novel for the publisher achieved her highest sales to date.


Selected Books for Publication in 2020 and 2021


Life’s Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career by James Reed will be published by Robinson in January 2020.  It’s a more personal book by James, to help those wanting to fulfil their potential by embarking on new directions and careers, at whatever stage they have reached in their working lives.


The Pottery Cottage Murders by Carol Ann Lee is the story of how Billy Hughes lay siege for three days to a frightened family in their remote cottage on the snowbound Derbyshire Moors, killing all, except the mother, who was saved by Carol’s co-author, former Chief Inspector Peter Howse, in a shoot-out with the murderer.  Piatkus will publish it in March 2020.  TV and film rights are already under option.


Justice for Helen by Marie McCourt with Fiona Duffy will be published by John Blake in February 2021.  Marie’s 22 year-old daughter Helen was murdered in 1988 by John Simms, but he still refuses to disclose where he buried her body.  Marie has fought valiantly and steadfastly for over 20 years to get “Helen’s Law” onto the Statute book.  In October 2019, it finally made it to the Queen’s Speech with unanimous cross-party support.


We are proud to report that Fiona received the award at the British Journalism Awards in December 2019 for Campaign of the Year. She led the highly effective Daily Mirror campaign to get Helen’s Law through Parliament.


Inside Parkhurst: Stories of a Prison Officer by David Berridge will be published by Orion in April 2021.  A tough character with a big personality, and a dark sense of humour, David has had to deal with it all – serial killers, gangsters, terrorists, sex offenders and the mentally ill. He has been assaulted and abused, tackled cell fires and attempted suicides, riots and dirty protests. He has foiled escape plans, talked inmates down from rooftop protests, witnessed prisoners setting fire to themselves, and prisoners ruthlessly murdering other prisoners.


The Guv’nor and Me: My Life with Lenny McLean by John ‘The Neck’ Houchin will be published by Ebury Press in February 2021.  John was the partner of the legendary Lenny McLean, both of whom appeared in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  He colourfully describes their fearsome exploits enforcing security and protection in London’s toughest pubs, clubs and venues, such as the London Hippodrome and Camden Palace, as well as debt collecting for the likes of Charlie Richardson and Reggie Kray, and special assignments, such as for Freddie Starr and Boy George.  It’s both scary and funny.


We Are Not Cocaine Smugglers: The Freshwater Five by Jamie Green and Mike Dunn is the true story of five Isle of Wight fishermen, imprisoned for a total of 104 years for a crime they didn’t commit.  Jamie Green and four other fishermen were found guilty in 2011 of smuggling cocaine with a street value of £53 million.  Overwhelming evidence proving their innocence is presented in this exciting book of adventure on the high seas.


Roberta Kray’s 18th crime thriller for Little, Brown, Betrayed, will be published in hardback in November 2020, prior to being paperbacked in March 2021.  In our view, it is her best ever novel, with compelling characters and plots and an unusual but intrepid young woman at its centre, as it unravels apparently unrelated narrative strands.  Once again, Roberta is back in the territory of London’s East End.


Facing The Yorkshire Ripper: The Art of Survival is by Mo Lea, who in 1980 when an art student in Leeds, became a rare survivor of a frenzied attack by Peter Sutcliffe.  She describes her slow physical and psychological recovery, and how expressing her feelings through her drawings and paintings helped her to become whole again.  Pen & Sword publish her book in October 2021.