Lucas Alexander Whitley Ltd (usually abbreviated to LAW) was founded in 1996 by literary agents Mark Lucas, Julian Alexander and Araminta Whitley. In 2001 Philippa Milnes-Smith joined the agency from Penguin Children’s Books to create a children's and young adult books department.
Our agents are proud to have represented a substantial number of clients for many years and bring together a broad and highly complementary range of passions and expertise. We are a full member of the AAA (Association of Authors’ Agents). We can offer bespoke consultancy services and our agents are regularly invited to speak at conferences and other events.
We asked Mark Lucas, founder, agent and chairman, to introduce the agents and the rest of the LAW team.
Rather than leaving Mark to introduce himself, this is what others have to say about him:
‘Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, sport, history, autobiography, Mark is an exceptional agent, someone who is both a brilliant negotiator - brokering the right deal for both author and publisher (so both think they've got the best of the bargain!) and a principled, clever editor, with a meticulous eye and an ability to coax the best out of his authors until a script is as near perfect as it can be. He works hard - too hard - and, at the same time, makes the process enjoyable. What is even more remarkable is that ML is as enthusiastic about writers and publishing now as when I first met him back in the dizzy days of the 1980s. There's no one with whom I'd rather work - and know all his clients feel the same! Viva LAW!’
Kate Mosse, Author
‘I’ve known Mark for more than half my lifetime. The awful truth is he’s an ace agent, someone who can turn base metal into gold by a combination of a sharp editorial eye and a remarkable ability to talk up a book project.’
Patrick Janson-Smith, Publisher, Blue Door, HarperCollins
Julian loves big stories, fiction and non-fiction, and, in pursuit of plot, has been known to suggest lashing quieter novelists to the masts of sailing ships in the South Seas. Being an agent is hardwired into his DNA, which is just as well, because it’s the only real job he has ever been allowed to do. Fortunately he possesses an encyclopaedic memory, and has actually read all the books with which some of us claim intimate acquaintance. He likes clever authors, smart ideas, elegant writing – especially when they combine to form a book you can describe in one sentence. No contractual detail escapes his laser-like scrutiny, and he is adept at handling complex deals for IP owners of all kinds.
Araminta has a keen critical and commercial eye across a broad range of genres, and combines editorial acuity with a level of energy and discipline that borders on the terrifying. She’s smart at spotting great business stories and finding brilliant, sweeping historical epics as well as building top talent in women’s fiction – and getting her books to Number 1 in China. She loves a challenge and has a natural flair for brand development and marketing. Both a tough negotiator and a sparkling hostess, she’s a vital weapon in the LAW armoury.
Managing Director and Children's and Young Adults
Philippa’s passion for children’s books began, perhaps unsurprisingly, in childhood. Reading then was a rich blend of fantasy, adventure, and ghost stories. She’s still looking for exciting writing for all ages, both commercial and literary, particularly work that translates well into film, television and other media.
Her best job before heading up LAW was running Penguin Children’s Books; her worst was cleaning industrial deep-fat fryers in a motorway service station. She won’t say which prepared her most effectively for agenting, but will admit to owning a paperweight emblazoned with the words: Diplomacy – the art of letting someone have it your way. Printable adjectives her authors have used to describe her range from ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘exciting’ to ‘outwardly respectable.’ She’s a past president of the Association of Author’s Agents.
Alice has an insatiable appetite for storytelling old and new. Her tastes are eclectic, her championship unstinting. She’s a fan of strong, passionate voices, dry, witty retorts, and – a particular treat in this digital age – retains a telephone manner that borders on the hypnotic. She’s always on the lookout for any excuse to spend more time with anyone and anything food related, explore new ideas and celebrate innovation, to work with those who push the envelope in any field, to lose herself in epic narrative of all kinds – and to find new ways of sharing works of genius with the world.
Agent, Digital Publishing and Editorial
Peta brings her astonishing editorial alchemy to a broad selection of print and digital publishing. She spends most of her spare time (the bits when she’s not cook, cleaner and cab service) singing, and reading whatever she can lay her hands on. She loves food, friends and fine wine, preferably in concert, and wild swimming is just one of her rural enthusiasms. She’s a knowledgeable and talented gardener, bee-keeper and bird-watcher, a brilliant mum (she can’t say that, but I can), and stands up to work – in every conceivable sense.
Ben works with Julian Alexander. His tastes range from the agricultural (he once worked on a farm where he had to do ‘some horrible things involving sheep’) to the culinary (he has eaten a lot of things, including sea urchins, out of politeness). His dreams include buying his own Hundred Aker Wood, speaking Spanish well enough to communicate with his grandmother in her native tongue, and retraining as an astronaut. Ben loves smart non-fiction, literary speculative fiction, books with a lot of heart and those that cunningly blend genres. His non-fiction tastes are varied but is particularly interested in the areas of philosophy, memoir, technology, science, business and nature writing. He gets excited when a writer comes at an idea from a bizarre and unexpected angle. He’s also a wizard with contracts.
Elizabeth works with Philippa Milnes-Smith. Her enthusiasm for classical myth is near legendary - and her performance in every athletic endurance test going, truly heroic. She also somehow finds the time and energy to go to exotic and unlikely places with a backpack and bring back home the books and spices that she has unearthed. Sooner or later she'll probably spearhead a campaign to rename her local library 'The Room of Requirement,' because she always finds the answers that she's looking for there.
Jennifer works with Araminta Whitley. She is a crime fiction addict with a passion for cliff-hangers that make her miss her stop and settings that inspire her to keep on going. When accused of being a Charlton Athletic supporter, she pleads guilty as charged. Her other offences include a love of reality TV, sarcasm, coffee and cocktails, but not necessarily in that order. She is determined to own a Labrador in every colour, and judging by her perfectly organised desk, they'd be very, very well behaved.
Petra looks after the all-important financial side of our business. Endlessly patient, even in the most complex and demanding of contractual circumstances, and tirelessly devoted to the analysis and onward trajectory of client income, she has been an indispensable member of the LAW team since we first set up shop. And she brings us the most wonderful cakes and biscuits when we most need them.