Pioneering literary agent Jed Mattes dies

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 29 2003 11:00 PM ET

Jed Mattes, the literary agent and activist who nurtured some of gay and lesbian literature's most outstanding talents, died July 24, 5 1/2 years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Mattes began his career as a literary agent at International Creative Management, where he represented such notables as Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Armistead Maupin. In 1989 he left ICM to open his own literary agency, Jed Mattes Inc., where he went on to represent such queer stars as Vito Russo, Greg Louganis, Urvashi Vaid, Michelangelo Signorile, Rich Tafel, Betty Berzon, Chris Bull, Gabriel Rotello, and Eric Marcus. He also represented best-selling author Bill Bryson (author of the current New York Times best-seller A Short History of Everything) and British playwright and author Michael Frayn (Noises Off, Copenhagen).

Mattes was a prominent and beloved gay civic leader in New York City, where he volunteered with the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization and was president of the board of directors of the Hetrick-Martin Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth.

On May 8 he received the Pink Triangle Award for Leadership from the Publishing Triangle, an association of gay and lesbian writers, publishers, and agents. Mattes was too ill to attend the ceremony.

The Advocate published an appreciation of Mattes in conjunction with the award [see link below].

Among Mattes's other honors was a 1997 Lambda Liberty Award for his work with the Hetrick-Martin Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth and other gay organizations.

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Joseph Edward Mattes lived most of his childhood in Des Moines and attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City. He is survived by his sisters, Emily McAdoo of St. Johnsbury, Vt., and Kate Mattes of Cambridge, Mass.