About the trust

The Charlotte Aitken Trust is dedicated to the support of literature, writing and reading. It is funded by the estate of the celebrated literary agent Gillon Aitken (1938-2016) in the name of his only daughter Charlotte, who died in 2011 at the age of 27.


Gillon’s career in publishing began with seven years at Chapman & Hall, whose authors included Evelyn Waugh, whom Gillon visited at Combe Florey. He said he knew the relationship was flourishing when Waugh felt he knew Gillon well enough to begin a letter ‘Dear Aitken’.

By 1971 Gillon was managing director of Hamish Hamilton, and from there, in search of more freedom, he made the move into agenting. Over the next forty years, he amassed a client list which included V.S.Naipaul, Germaine Greer, Paul Theroux, Sebastian Faulks, Bruce Chatwin, Pat Barker, Colin Thubron, Charles Moore, Edward St Aubyn, Helen Fielding, Jung Chang and AN Wilson.

His erudition, dry wit and sharp, discriminating eye made him a legend in the industry.



Charlotte Aitken was the only child of the celebrated literary agent, Gillon Aitken. Charlotte’s sudden death in 2011, when she was only 27, deprived Gillon’s life of its central point. It was then that Gillon formed the idea to set up a philanthropic foundation in her name.

In the last two years of her life, Charlotte worked at Gillon’s agency and read widely across many genres. She was a highly valued and popular colleague.


We have forged partnerships with literary foundations, charities and award-giving bodies. Among our partners are the Arvon Foundation, First Story, the Forward Poetry Prize, The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, The Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction and the Young Vic.