Sterling Lord

SCC Century Alumnus

In celebration of SCC’s 100th anniversary, we introduce a new tradition: Century Alumni. We will recognize SCC alumni who are 100 years old.

Our inaugural Century Alumnus is Sterling Lord (BJC ’40).

Lord is a retired literary agent and founder of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. in New York City.

Born and raised in Burlington, Lord graduated from Burlington Junior College in 1940 and transferred to Grinnell College to earn a bachelor’s degree in 1942.
Sterling Lord made the most of his time while at BJC, participating in all sorts of activities. He played on the basketball and tennis teams, served on the student council, and was a member of the yearbook and college newspaper staff.

His love of the written word and tennis would fuel his passions for his entire life.
After Grinnell, he entered the army during the waning days of WWII and started his literary career as a writer for the Army’s Stars and Stripes. He eventually settled in New York and went to work for himself as a literary agency in 1952.

Soon after starting his agency, an unknown writer named Jack Kerouac came into Lord’s office with a 120 ft. long scroll containing the original manuscript of On the Road. Realizing its potential, Lord spent the next four years in search of a publisher. The novel was unveiled to the public in 1957. Since then, it has sold millions of copies.

Lord would go on to become one of the most powerful literary agents in the field as other influential figures would enlist his services, including Ken Kesey, Jimmy Breslin, four US cabinet members, and Stan and Jan Berenstain, creators of the beloved Berenstain Bears children’s books.

An accomplished tennis player all his life, he was nationally ranked in his youth and wrote a book about tennis. He finally hung up his racket at 85.

He currently lives in his adopted home of New York City.

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