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Daves, Joan

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November 14, 1919 to June 25, 1997

Literary agent Joan Daves began working with Martin Luther King, Jr., in October 1957, after he had begun preliminary work on his first book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. In 1964, Daves accompanied King to Europe when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

Born Liselotte Davidson in Berlin on 14 November 1919, Daves escaped the Nazi regime in the mid-1930s and fled to Paris and Britain before emigrating to the United States in 1940. Daves worked for Interscience Publishers and, in 1942, she became an editor at Harper & Brothers. Daves co-founded the literary agency of Marie Rodell and Joan Daves, Inc., and later established the Joan Daves Agency.

Daves and Rodell managed King’s contracts, negotiated motion picture productions, arranged publicity for Stride, and worked with editorial assistant Hermine Popper to help guide the writing of the manuscript when concerns over King’s busy schedule threatened to delay the publication of the book. Daves remained King’s literary agent for his next three books, Strength to Love (1963), Why We Can’t Wait (1964), and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) and continued to work with King’s literary property until her death in 1997.


Daves to King, 18 October 1957, in Papers 4:286–287.

Hermine I. Popper to King, 21 March 1958, in Papers 4:386, 388.