Home  / APW/10 - Timothy Mo

APW/10 - Timothy Mo

Reference code
Level of description
Timothy Mo
Quantity & Format
137 items
Personal name
Mo, Timothy
Scope and content
Biographical details: Mo, the son of an English mother and a Cantonese father, was born in Hong Kong in 1950. He was educated in Hong Kong and in England. His first novel, THE MONKEY KING, (1978) won the Geoffrey Faber Prize; his second, SOUR SWEET (1982), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Prize and won the Hawthornden Prize; his third, AN INSULAR POSSESSION (1986), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and THE REDUNDANCY OF COURAGE was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991 [extract from the [jacket] of THE REDUNDANCY OF COURAGE].

Scope and Content: The file contains letters of congratulation to AP Watt from Heinemann and Viking for having taken on Mo as a new client, 18/6/90. Heinemann’s senior editor thinks Mo is her favourite author in the world and would love to publish Mo’s next novel. The publishing director of Viking “would love a chance at the new manuscript for Viking and for Penguin.” Mo was planning a change of publishing house, hence the interest.

Includes copies of various agreements made prior to Mo’s joining of AP Watt, 1985-1988. These are all for AN INSULAR POSSESSION.

In Mo’s first letter after the signing of the agreement with AP Watt, he stipulates that he wishes to retain film rights, he wishes to negotiate translation rights in Italy and Spain by himself, and he wishes to sign all contracts himself.

*EM Forster award*

Contains letters and an invitation from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters for Mo to receive the E.M. Forster award of $12,500, given from time to time to an English writer for a stay in the US.

The award was made possible by Christopher Isherwood, a member of the Academy-Institute, to whom E.M. Forster bequeathed the American publication rights and royalties of his posthumous novel, MAURICE. Mr Isherwood subsequently transferred those royalties to this organization for the establishment of the E.M. Forster Award.

Many letters are written in order to try and contact Mo but he was travelling extensively in the Far East. King attended the award ceremony on 20/5/92 on behalf of Mo. In order to collect the money, Mo was told he needed to visit the US himself.


O&A Editions (Hong Kong) ask Mo to contribute a chapter to a book RETURN TO THE HEART OF THE DRAGON, 7/4/93.

Colin Donald of the Scotsman asks if he could interview Mo in Hong Kong for an article he is writing on the culture of Hong Kong, 4/5/93.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson ask if Mo could read the manuscript of Leslie Wilson’s third novel THE MOUNTAIN OF IMMODERATE DESIRES and possibly provide a quote, 7/5/93.

Contains a copy of an agreement and correspondence between Andre Deutsch Ltd and The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation relating to radio dramatization rights to SOUR SWEET.


Included in this file are handwritten letters from Mo. In his letter to King, dated 24/6/93, Mo mentions he has a new manuscript to submit [BROWNOUT ON BREADFRUIT BOULEVARD] and wonders whether it should be submitted to Levine.

Mo writes “As regards rights to represent, there are two problematical areas, which we need to discuss. The USA, fine. I don’t know how much the perception of T. Mo has altered since 1990 or the book scene there itself but T. Mo’s perception of himself has not altered.”

Mo also queries the position in Germany where AP Watt authors have to go through the Zurich agency. This didn’t suit Mo. He referred to inside information he had on everything going through the “Zurich tube” and German publishers reading nothing.


King recommends Linda [Shaughnessy] to handle Mo’s translation rights in Germany. He suggests Levine handle Mo’s publications in the US but would equally represent Mo directly if he would prefer. King updates Mo on moves and changes in personnel in the publishing sector, 8/7/93.

Independent Image (an independent film and TV production company) approach Mo with a proposal for him to participate in Channel 4’s Travels with my Camera series.

Mo was not convinced that the Zurich agencies were little more than mailing houses (letter to Linda Shaughnessy, 2/8/93). “As for the novel being submitted to 18 publishers by Mohrbooks, that’s just 18 despatches. I can assure you there is no way I am submitting myself to this process. Getting the book sold and having to pay commission to them for more or less nil service is in some ways a more galling prospect than lying un-opened in the stock-room.”

“I look forward to being free of Crescente [Gonyalong?] and Professor Pfizer in the next three weeks. At the moment I don’t know whether to terminate one or both their careers in the penultimate chapter.” (Letter to King, 11/8/93).

Expressions of interest in Mo’s new book come from Jonathan Warner at Harper Collins “he really would be a jewel in the Flamingo hardback.” Also, Ticknor & Fields.

Declines come from Picador; Hodder & Stoughton; Harper Collins; and The Orion Publishing Group Ltd.

Offers come from Secker & Warburg, Viking and Little Brown.

King outlined the position in his letter to Giles Gordon of Sheil Land Associates Ltd, 3/12/93. He writes that six publishers bid enthusiastically for the novel however MO decided, with King’s full support, to withdraw the book. His reasons were personal and editorial.

Zoetrope shows an interest in the film rights in MONKEY KING. Reed Audio was interested in audio rights in SOUR SWEET and THE MONKEY KING.

Permission is granted to Ruth Waring for non-exclusive (retrospective) permission to include 840 words from SOUR SWEET in THE FABER BOOK OF MURDER, 15/12/94. This permission was granted in error as Deutsch held the rights, this is clarified in Mo’s letter to King, 21/4/95.

Linda Shaughnessy clarifies the position with the Japanese serial deal for AN INSULAR POSSESSION. She confirms that all future offers would be directed to Mo c/o BCM Paddleless, 10/10/96.

Mo is invited by Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand to participate in an Asia Writers’ Week which was to take place in March 1997. As AP Watt was no longer his agent the letter is forwarded to Mo.
Powered by CollectionsIndex+ Collections Online