7 March 2024

ILP Acquires
Mary Wesley Estate

  • ILP acquires the Mary Wesley Estate and will manage the rights to the work of one of Britain’s most successful novelists
  • Best known as the author of iconic works such as The Camomile Lawn, Wesley famously published her first novel aged 70
  • Wesley sold millions of books globally and is famous for her sharp wit and modern approach to sexuality in her writing, as well as her huge appetite for life
  • Four of Wesley’s books were adapted for film and television; Jumping the Queue, the BAFTA Award-winning The Camomile Lawn, Harnessing Peacocks and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew

International Literary Properties (ILP), the global company that invests in, acquires, and manages literary estates, is thrilled and honoured to announce the acquisition of Mary Wesley’s literary estate.

One of Britain’s most successful novelists during her career, Mary Wesley found fame after publishing her first adult novel Jumping the Queue in 1983, at the age of seventy. She went on to have a period of prolific creativity, writing a further nine bestsellers and selling three million copies of her books globally in the last twenty years of her life. Four of Wesley’s books have been adapted into TV or film: Jumping the Queue (1983), The Camomile Lawn (1984), Harnessing Peacocks (1985), and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew (1986). The most successful of these was The Camomile Lawn, directed by Sir Peter Hall, which remains the second most successful drama series of all time for Channel 4.

Wesley is a much loved author, delighting readers around the world with her ability to see life as it truly is – in all its complicated, wonderful glory. Her trademark wicked sense of humour, candid sexuality and emotional turbulence is laced throughout her books. Wesley’s unique writing talent lies in her ability to scratch beneath the thin veneer of social expectations to expose a world full of complexity, intrigue, and larger-than-life characters.

The Independent summarised Mary Wesley’s acclaim by saying she “became famous for three things: for having published her first novel at the age of 70; for capturing the atmosphere of wartime England, particularly wartime London, more vividly than any writer since Rosamond Lehmann and Elizabeth Jane Howard; and for writing frankly about sex… upper-class sex in particular. She was baffled when many readers were shocked that someone her age could write like this.” The Daily Telegraph is quoted as saying Wesley “writes with the knowledge and wisdom of serene old age and the emotional exuberance of glowing young womanhood.”

Mary Wesley’s daughter-in-law, author Xinran Xue, says, “Mary was an incredible woman, an extraordinary author and a very close member of my family. It is really important for me to follow my darling husband Toby’s wishes. Toby would have wanted Mary’s legacy to continue to be recognized by future generations. I know that the ILP team will protect and nurture Mary’s work and I am very much looking forward to working with them and being part of the exciting plans they have for her literary legacy.”

Hilary Strong, CEO UK and EMEA of ILP, says, “Mary Wesley’s books hold a special place in my heart, and so I am delighted to welcome the estate of Mary Wesley into ILP’s portfolio of literary IP. Wesley’s works took the literary world by storm and brought an unapologetically eccentric and refreshing perspective that was unlike anything else. We look forward to working closely with Xinran as well as Wesley’s literary agent, Veronique Baxter, her publishers, and her fans, to uphold and enhance her legacy.”

Mary Wesley (born Mary Aline Farmar) CBE was born in 1912 and died in 2002, leaving her estate to her son, Toby Eady and his wife, journalist and author, Xinran Xue. Wesley led an extremely vibrant life, becoming a rebellious child after an unloving upbringing, earning her the nickname ‘Wild Mary’. She went on to marry Charles Swinfen Eady, who became Baron Swinfen. During the Second World War Wesley was recruited into a code-breaking section of MI5. Wesley divorced in 1945 and found happiness with the journalist and playright, Eric Siepmann, who became her beloved second husband. Siepmann encouraged Wesley to write seriously and, after his death in 1970, she embarked upon an intensely creative writing period, becoming a national sensation beloved by millions of readers. International Literary Properties has already begun a comprehensive programme of work to reinvigorate and champion Wesley’s work globally. With extensive experience in publishing, TV, film, theatre, audio, brand and merchandising, ILP’s team works closely with agents, publishers and producers to find fresh focus for authors’ works and create new creative and commercial opportunities. Over the past four years ILP has partnered with best of breed partners in the UK and USA to close multiple TV, film and theatre deals. These include the first contemporary adaptation of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series, written by Patrick Harbinson (Homeland, The Tower, 24) and produced by Playground Entertainment.