Sterling Lord, who represented Jimmy Breslin, Art Buchwald, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gordon Parks and most famously Jack Kerouac, died Saturday in Ocala, Florida. He was 102 years old and his death was confirmed by his daughter, Rebecca Lord. No cause was given.
The list of literary greats represented by Lord throughout his long career included Frank Deford, David Wise, Nicolas Pileggi, Dolores Kearns Goodwin, Joe McGinniss, Pete Gent, Pete Axthelm and more. But it was Kerouac’s book that is probably his lasting legacy, sold for $1,000 after four years of trying. It went on to sell more than five million copies.
Lord was born in Burlington, Iowa, on September 3, 1920. His father was a hobby bookbinder and nurtured his son’s passion for books. Curiously, Lord himself published only two works, a tennis instructional and a memoir, neither of which he sold massively.
He graduated with a degree in English from Grinnell College in Iowa, then joined the Army and was sent to Europe near the end of World War II. He helped edit the military publication’s weekly magazine. stars and stripes, briefly taking it private when the army stopped publishing it in 1948. When the magazine closed in 1949, he moved to New York.
Lord worked at various magazines, including True and Cosmopolitan, before becoming a literary agent. His tastes were eclectic and he was known to bring great strides to his squad.
In 1987, Lord joined forces with agent Peter Matson to form Sterling Lord Literistic. He continued to work well into his 90s as a high-performance agent. He finished his stint there and formed his own agency at the end of his career.
Lord was married and divorced four times. His daughter, Rebecca Lord, is his only immediate survivor.