Brann, Helen Wetmore– December 26, 1932 to November 30, 2015
Helen Wetmore Brann, acclaimed literary agent, died suddenly on Monday, November 30, 2015, of complications from cancer. She was 82.
Born in Colorado Springs, Colorado to Maurice Robert Brann and Alice Cynthia Wetmore. She attended The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT, and graduated from Smith College in 1954. Wishing to pursue a career as a writer, she got a job as a receptionist at the New Yorker. From 1958 to 1963 she lived in England and Ireland working as a freelance editor while writing her own novel.
In 1963 she returned to New York and worked part-time for literary agent James Oliver Brown. She soon had clients of her own, among them Diane Johnson and Edmund White. In 1968 she moved to the Sterling Lord Agency. In 1974 she took a leap of faith and started The Helen Brann Agency. Eventually she shared an office with the legendary dramatic rights literary agent, Flora Roberts where they became close friends as well as business associates. Helen moved her business to Western Connecticut in 1990 as her client list continued to grow. For decades she has represented many talented writers, including Julian Barnes, Richard Brautigan, Gerald Clarke, Nora Johnson, Daniel Yergin, Ingrid Thoft, Chuck Scarborough, Rod McKuen, Barbara Leaming, William Wright, Stephen Sondheim, Robert B. Parker and Maya Angelou.
By opening her own literary agency she became a trail blazer for women. In 2007 Helen was involved with Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign and she was pleased when being introduced to Mrs. Clinton, that Mrs. Clinton immediately recalled that Helen was the first woman to open a literary agency of her own.
In October 2004 she married Faith Stewart-Gordon, artist and former owner of the Russian Tea Room in New York. They lived together in their Bridgewater home along with their many animals including goats, horses, cats and dogs. Helen owned several race horses and bred champion Norwich Terriers.
Helen was a member of The Century Association, The Cosmopolitian Club, The Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club and The Hale Matthews Foundation. She co-created The Flora Roberts Award for aspiring playwrights.
In addition to her spouse Faith, she is survived by her sister, Cynthia Ramsey, several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews and Faith’s daughter, Ellen Kaye and grandson, Ian Tsang. She was predeceased by her beloved sister Beatrice. A private service will be held at a later date.
Donations in Helen’s memory can be made to the Palliative Care Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065.