Timothy Seldes, Literary Editor-Agent, Dies at 88

The agent had been in failing health and was suffering from pneumonia.

NEW YORK (AP) — Timothy Seldes, an editor and literary agent who worked with Anne Tyler and Richard Wright, among others, and was a member of a prominent journalistic and artistic family, died Saturday at age 88.

Seldes' stepdaughter, Elizabeth Shreve, told The Associated Press that he died among loved ones at his home in Washington, D.C. He had been in failing health and was suffering from pneumonia.

"The space Tim Seldes will leave behind is enormous," Tyler wrote in an email to the AP. "He was so vibrant and engaged and such a celebrator, and a wonderful friend to writers."

Raised in New York City and a graduate of UCLA, Seldes grew up around words, ideas and the performing arts. He was the brother of Tony-winning actress Marian Seldes, son of drama critic and author Gilbert Seldes and nephew of pioneering press critic George Seldes.

Timothy Seldes broke into the book business as a clerk at a Doubleday store in Manhattan, and later held positions with publishers Macmillan and Harcourt Brace. He spent much of his editing career at the Doubleday house, where he rose to managing editor and authors included Wright and Isaac Asimov.

But by the early 1970s, Seldes was unemployed — "Not by my own request," he later told Narrative Magazine — and was anxious to get back into publishing. In 1972, he purchased the venerable agency Russell & Volkening, with clients ranging from Tyler and Eudora Welty to Nobel laureates Nadine Gordimer and Saul Bellow. One author he worked with, Susan Shreve, became his wife in 1987 and survives him.

Seldes was married three times; he had two children by his second wife, Lee Seldes, and he also had four stepchildren.

Seldes retired after selling Russell & Volkening to Lippincott Massie McQuilkin in 2012.