The cover of The Age Issue of The Dramatist. An illustration of two sets of hands, one older and one younger, playing piano side by side.
A Primer on Literary Executors, Part 1
Woman walking alone
DG Creative

When doctors die, they can no longer treat patients. When plumbers die, they no longer fix leaky toilets. Writers though often go on to have active and lucrative careers for years—and, in some cases, generations—after they’ve left this world. One of the many virtues of the literary arts is that plays, novels, and poems live and endure apart from their creators. Even writers who did not enjoy enormous commercial or critical success while they were alive have a chance of making it big after they die. A compelling recent example is Jonathan Larson, who died unexpectedly on the day of Rent’s first preview performance.

Sign In To Access This Article

Subscribe to gain full access to The Dramatist Issue Archive.

Join and become a Dramatists Guild Member, Business Subscriber or subscribe to the magazine with an annual plan for unlimited access.

Guild Members receive our magazine as a benefit of membership!

View Options


Ellen F. Brown. Photo by Tasha Tolliver
Ellen F. Brown

is a lawyer and an award-winning freelance writer. She is co-author of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood and is working on a book about the impact literary estates have on the legacies of the writers they represent. You can read more about her work at and follow her on Twitter @ellenfbrown.