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Profile Summary

Rowan joined forces with Eugenie Furniss, previous head of William Morris Endeavor (WME), UK literary division, in 2012 to create the Furniss Lawton Agency. They have the benefit of being part of the James Grant Group, who represent writers, musicians, sports personalities, and create brands for celebrities. Rowan went straight from university into the publishing industry, working at a children's book packager before transitioning to an agent's assistant, then agent. She worked for WME and PFD before setting up Furniss Lawton.

The agency represents both fiction and non-fiction, though Rowan's particular interests are focused on fiction. In particular, she loves women's fiction, from the more literary end, to genre work and book club reads. She is actively on the lookout for psychological thrillers, contemporary romance, romantic comedies, and issue-led narratives. Overall, she looks for books that will resonate with the largest audience, always on the prowl for the next bestseller. 

Furniss Lawton have an excellent track record, having represented over 50 Sunday Times Bestselling writers between the two agents. Their authors have been shortlisted (or won) almost every literary prize under the sun, including such prestigious prizes as The Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. As a keen short story reader who notes Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro amongst her favourites, Rowan has also served as a judge for the Bristol Short Story Prize.

When submitting to Rowan, be sure to have your research under your belt first. In the covering letter, include your reasoning as to why you want to submit your work to her in particular. Are you a fan of her authors? Have you been impressed with the agency's history? Whatever it is that made you specifically want to send your novel to her, Rowan wants to know. A generic-sounding cover letter won't make it past her slush pile.

Detailed data

Furniss and Lawton
Agent since:
Short biography:
Rowan Lawton first worked at William Morris Endeavor and then at Peters, Fraser & Dunlop before joining Eugenie Furniss at Furniss Lawton. Rowan has represented a number of UK Sunday Times Bestsellers.
Client list status:
Open to new clients
Genres this agent is interested in:
Memoir and autobiography, Mind, Body, Spirit, Food and Cookery, Other non-fiction, History, Politics, society & current affairs, Science, Travel, Religion, Women's fiction, General Fiction, Crime, thriller, action, Erotica, Fantasy, Genre romance, Historical fiction, Horror, Paranormal romance, Science fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:
I love women's fiction in all its guises- from contemporary romance and romantic comedy to psychological thrillers and wider reading group fiction. Here are three specific areas in which I'm very keen to find new writers. It goes without saying that I love the writing and novels of authors I currently represent. Therefore, in the main part I'm going to use other books and writers who I don't work with to give you a feel for my taste. Contemporary romance/ romantic comedy- I like a bit of edge to my romance novels, whether that be a really distinctive voice or the way in which you write about sex. Ideally, in this area, I am looking for books with a British or Irish female central character. If you're trying to make me laugh, I want it to be so funny that I spit some tea out while reading (which is what happens when I read Lucy-Anne Holmes and Lucy Robinson). I want to really identify with the emotional life of the protagonist, I love it when a novel hits on a nubby moral or emotional issue. My client Nicola Doherty does this wonderfully in both of her novels and others authors I really admire particularly for this quality are Jojo Moyes, Stella Newman (with Pear Shaped) and Gemma Burgess (in A Girl Like You) . Psychological thrillers- I'm a big fan of a psychological thriller, particularly those with a domestic setting and relationship issue at their heart. Recently I really enjoyed Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty as well as Samantha Hayes' Until You're Mine and The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison. I enjoy reading an unreliable narrator, and/or a first person story with lots of foreshadowing (i.e. "if I'd only known on that day what I know now.."). Issue led debuts- The issue in question could be a moral one, a novel I loved that does this really well is one by Emily Giffin, Love the One You're With. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty does this wonderfully too. Whatever that issue is, for me it's all about it throwing up conflict for the key protagonist in a way that resonates with a wide readership.
Other loves & passions:
No Data
How to make a submission:
We only accept electronic submissions at: Email + Synopsis + First 3 chapters or up to 10,000 words.
Other advice and background:

Q.What was your route to becoming a literary agent?

Rowan: I’ve been lucky in that my route was very straightforward – I started working in publishing as soon as I graduated. My first job started two days after graduation and was for a small children’s packager called David West Children’s Books. It was a great first job and the perfect role to get my foot in the door of the industry. I worked across editorial, production, rights and design which gave me enough experience to then apply for roles within trade publishers and literary agencies a year later. I then got an agent’s assistant role at what was then the William Morris Agency and worked my way up to agent over several years.

How has the role of the literary agent changed since you started?

Rowan: I first started working in publishing in 2002 and the publishing industry as a whole has changed in myriad ways since then – I think the biggest of those changes has been in the digital and retail landscapes. Digital publishing has transformed modes of reading and therefore has changed the industry in many ways. In the time I’ve been an agent independent bookshops have closed in droves (as well as a major chain, Borders) and Amazon and the supermarkets have overtaken the high street in terms of market share. There has of course also been huge consolidation of the major trade publishers. All of this has undoubtedly impacted on the role of literary agents. I think the biggest change is probably in the level of creative input and editorial support most agents now give their clients, and this often comes long before they have secured a publishing deal. Having said that, I think there are many ways in which the role itself remains the same – the eye for strong writing and great storytelling, moral support, strong industry relationships and know-how and keen negotiation and diplomacy skills. I sometimes describe my job as being something of a professional hand-holder! I don’t think the importance of those key skills has changed a huge amount in my time as an agent. What tends to excite you, initially, about submissions you like? In all honesty, there is usually some sort of x-factor, a tingly feeling you get when you know you’re reading something special. Initially that feeling tends to be a little intangible but it could be sparked by a strong voice, a beautiful line of prose or a killer opening pitch.

Are there any forthcoming books from writers you represent that you’re particularly excited about?

Rowan: I mentioned above the importance of agents employing strong diplomacy skills and to that end I’d have to say that all of my authors’ forthcoming books excite me – that’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child! Most immediately as I write this I’ve just read first drafts of two quite different clients’ new novels – both of which I’m hugely excited by. One is Lindsey Kelk’s new book, What a Girl Wants (which will be published this summer) – it’s brilliantly funny and warm and absolute vintage Lindsey. The other is Emylia Hall’s next novel, Seahorses, which is a beautifully lyrical love story set mainly in Cornwall (it will be published in 2015). The adult debut I sold most recently is a wonderful novel called Ridley Road by Jo Bloom – it’s a love story set in 1962 against the backdrop of the revival of the anti-fascist movement in London.

What role do writing competitions have to play in a rapidly evolving publishing world?

Rowan: I think they are increasingly important for two key reasons. The first is that they create a level playing field (particularly when judged anonymously, as the BSSP is). The publishing industry has, in the past, come under criticism for being a bit of a closed shop and writing competitions challenge that perception. The second is that in a market where it’s increasingly difficult to get noticed, never more so for debut authors, prizes hold more and more value both within the industry and with the reading public – both directly and indirectly. Directly for the big name prizes that most keen readers recognise as a seal of approval, and indirectly because it helps an unpublished author get noticed by agents and publishers and then further down the line helps publishers gain the necessary retail and PR support to try and reach as wide an audience as possible.

Who are some of your favourite short story writers?

Rowan: As a teenager I think I first fell in love with the short story form because of Margaret Atwood’s collection Wilderness Tips. It also led me, indirectly, to Alice Munro who is a long-time favourite. I’m also a big fan of Daphne Du Maurier and Dorothy Whipple. More recent short story writers I admire include Jhumpa Lahiri and Robin Black.

If you were a character in a story (long or short!), who would you be and why?

Rowan: What a question! I’ve just read a wonderful memoir by Samantha Ellis called How to be a Heroine so I’ve been mentally running through the heroines she discusses for inspiration. She wrote the book borne of an identity crisis – she’d spent most of her life holding up Cathy Earnshaw (from Wuthering Heights) as ideal heroine material when in fact it hits her that perhaps she should have admired Jane Eyre more all along. However, I’m not convinced I’d like to have been a woman in the 19th century so I think I’d probably have to go for a contemporary character and perhaps a man. The possibility of living as the opposite sex could be very intriguing. I can’t get further than that though I’m afraid – you’ve really given me some food for thought!


"I want to know why someone's pitching to me, specifically", says top literary agent Rowan Lawton of Peters Fraser & Dunlop. "What is it about my client list and my agency's track record that makes this proposal right for us?".

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
Follow on Twitter:
Interesting links:
Hairy Bikers, Kevin Brooks, Charlie Brooks, Clemency Burton-Hill, Lezanne Clannachan, Julian Clary, Hattie Collins, Sophie Cornish, Richard Corrigan, Fi Cotter Craig, Richard Crompton, Nicola Doherty, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Kate Griffin, Emylia Hall, Zebedee Helm, Lady Pamela Hicks, Lucas Hollweg, Lucy-Anne Holmes, James Jackson, Lucy Jago, Mia James, Lindsey Kelk, Raymond Khoury, Tania Kindersley, Florence Knight, Tom Knox, Y S Lee, Rod Liddle, David Logan, Gay Longworth, Susan MacQueen, Laetitia Maklouf, A J Molloy, Piers Morgan, Neil Oliver, Tasmina Perry, Outline Productions, Matthew Reilly, Betty Riegel, Georgina Rodgers, Alexandra Shulman, Holly Tucker, Sarah Vine, Charlotte Ward, Lindy Woodhead, Jennifer Worth.
Full client list:
Email address:

Agents of: Furniss and Lawton

Agency details

About the agency:
Furniss Lawton is founded on the considerable experience and knowledge Eugenie Furniss and Rowan Lawton have accumulated in their careers, positioning the agency as a new leading player within the UK's literary industry.
Address for submissions:
We only accept electronic submissions at:
Office address:
Furniss Lawton, James Grant Group Ltd, 94 Strand on the Green Chiswick, London W4 3NN
Email address:
Phone number:
0208 987 6804
Number of agents:
Accepts email submissions:
Submission type:
Other - see details
Further submission info:
Email + Synopsis + First 3 chapters or up to 10,000 words.
More info on this agency:
No data
Average response time:
4 days
Agency Transparency Index:
Member of the AAA:
Overseas offices:
No data
Accepts overseas writers:
Follow on Twitter:
Latest news:
More about the agency:
Furniss Lawton is founded on the considerable experience and knowledge Eugenie Furniss and Rowan Lawton have accumulated in their careers, positioning the agency as a new leading player within the UK's literary industry.

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