Don Congdon, Heights Resident and Famed Literary Agent, Dies at 91

Don Congdon, a prominent literary agent, died last Monday at his home in the Heights, as reported in yesterday’s New York Times:

Don Congdon, a literary agent who spotted the talent of Ray Bradbury early in both their careers and whose long list of celebrated authors also included William Styron, Jack Finney, Evan S. Connell, William L. Shirer and David Sedaris, died on Monday at his home in Brooklyn Heights. He was 91.

Congdon’s was a true rags-to-riches story. The son of a Pennsylvania railroad worker, he arrived in New York during the depression with eight dollars in his pocket, and got a job delivering manuscripts from a literary agency to publishing houses. With no more than a high school education, he became agent for some of the most celebrated American writers of his time, and was regarded as an especially acute judge of literary talent. Ray Bradbury, one of his clients, dedicated what has become his best known work, Farenheit 451, which along with Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 is one of the great dystopian novels of the past century, to Congdon.

Thanks to reader Andrew Porter for the tip.

Share this Story:


  • Susanne Alleyn

    Don Congdon was my agent until he retired a few years ago. He was a sweet man and an amazing talent, and I’ll always be grateful to him for taking a chance with me, amid all the literary superstars he represented; he’ll be remembered fondly, and missed. RIP, Don.

  • Andrew Porter

    This is another guy who worked in my genre —SF/fantasy— who I didn’t meet, though we’d both lived in BH for decades. Another was artist Ronald Clyne, who lived in a modern house on Willow Place, and who did covers in the SF field in the 1930s/40s but ultimately went on to design all the album covers for Folkways Records. He died a couple of years ago.

    Then there was FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES editor Mary Gnaedinger, who lived at 52 Clark Street from the 30s to the 50s…

    And Ted Wilentz, of the 8th Street Bookshop, lived in the blue house on Middagh Street.