Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust

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Name: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust
Profit/Nonprofit: 1994-to the present (2012)
Country based in: San Francisco, CA, USA
Focus: Marion Zimmer Bradley's fiction
External Links: homepage, Archived version
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The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust holds Marion Zimmer Bradley's copyrights and administers the anthologies she edited.

It appears that the "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Living Trust" (cited as the publisher of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine from 1994-2000) is the same organization/corporation.

In 2012, the Trust was the complainant regarding two Darkover pieces of fan fiction called The Women of Darkover and Molly of Darkover. See: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust and Unauthorized Fanworks.

Who's In Charge? Who Benefits?

Sorting out who does what and who benefits is tricky.

In 2008, Elisabeth Waters said that the trustee was Ann Sharp and that she herself was an employee. [1] Deborah J. Ross, the author who continued to write Darkover books under the eye of Bradley's trust said in 2009 that Ann Sharp was the trustee and Elisabeth Waters was the secretary. [2]

Differing definitions aside, it appears that Waters is the direct sole beneficiary of Bradley's estate and profits. [3] [4]

Two other authors, Deborah J. Ross and Diana L. Paxson, benefit as well, but these are likely due to agreed-upon profits from the contracts they have from the literary trust. [5]

One source states that the trust is not listed on California's database of non-profits, and there is no evidence that the trust donates any money. [6]

In 2014, Russell Galen was the literary agent for the "Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust." [7]

In 2015, Elisabeth Waters said: "I am currently working on Sword and Sorceress 30. They’re still selling, so Marion’s Trust keeps hiring me to edit them." [8]


The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust registered the trademark for Darkover on March 23, 2010.

While her first Darkover book was published in 1958, this trademark cites the first use of Darkover ("in commerce" and otherwise) as September 14, 1962. [9]

The Literary Works Trust and Fanfiction Permission

A statement regarding Darkover fanworks, updated in 2017:

Writing Darkover® Fiction

Darkover® is the property of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her heirs, and the right to prepare a derivative work belongs to the copyright holder. This means that even if you don't publish it or make money from it; it's still illegal. Nobody is allowed to write a Darkover® story or novel without a contract with the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust. You may not write a Darkover® story in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or any other language. Any legitimate editor you sent it to would not publish it because that would be a violation of copyright laws and the Berne Convention. If you have an idea for a Darkover® story, create a new background -- a new universe -- rename your characters, and write it so that the story is clearly NOT Darkovan.

We are publishing anual [sic] Darkover® anthologies again, but they are currently by invitation only. [10]

A 2013 Interview

Two excerpts from an interview with her Trust, see Author Interview: Marion Zimmer Bradley Trust: Ann Sharp and Lisa Waters.

What pushed Marion Zimmer Bradley to become a working fiction writer? Why did she go down that creative path?

A.) MZB used to say that she didn’t want her children raised by someone whose market value was less than hers, and writing enabled her to work at home. She really wanted to become an opera singer, but she didn’t have the resources to train [11] ; writing was her second choice.


MZB became a formidable editor, launching a fiction magazine and a successful series of anthologies based on her Darkover world. Why did she decide to become an editor? Did financial need drive her, or did she see it as a way to pay forward? Was she trying to channel fan fiction into building new writers?

A.) It definitely was not financial need; by the time she edited her first anthology, she was financially secure. She firmly believed in paying forward and never forgot the support that she had received as a young writer. The Darkover anthologies did start as a way of publishing the best of the fan fiction. In her Sword and Sorceress anthologies, while she certainly encouraged new writers, there was no fan fiction involved. She was enormously proud of what we still call “MZB’s writers”: the authors who made their first sale to her and went on to successful careers of their own. [12]

Comments Regarding Delegation, The Literary Trust

Delegation is a good thing, but there are some things a writer can't delegate, such as writing her books. Things that can be delegated include website design and updating, social media, newsletters, answering fan mail (or e-mail), etc.

There are certainly parts of producing an anthology that can be delegated--I know this because Marion delegated everything she didn't want to do to me: sending contracts; paying advances; sending contributors' copies; keeping track of royalties, authors' changes of address and names; and paying royalties. Her death added choosing the stories and the final line-up, assembling the manuscript and sending it to the publisher. Vera's/Norilana's bankruptcy added producing the book to the job. At least the Trust is willing to pay to have someone else do the book covers, because I'm horrible at that.

Then there's all my work for the Trust. At the moment, we have 20 anthologies in print, with two more coming this year, and two more planned for 2015. Most of them are paying royalties, and I expect the ones that aren't yet to do so in the next year or two. Given the number of authors involved, paying royalties is becoming a big job. When Marion was alive, she had a staff of four people in her office, plus another two in her household. Since her death, we've lost that staff to death, jobs that provide the salary needed to live, other interests, other responsibilities, and the fact that all of us are getting older. Only two of the staff were younger than I, and one of them is the one who died. So I'm the next-to-youngest, and I'm eligible to collect Social Security this year.

I need to delegate. I also need to train a replacement, because the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust is going to outlive me. Even if I believe I can do my job better than anyone else, I won't always be able to do it--or even be here to do it. [13]

E-Books: Profits and Donations

On July 1, 2014, Victor Gollancz Ltd wrote:

Allegations about Marion Zimmer Bradley have surfaced in the last couple of weeks, including a statement from her daughter, Moira Greyland, that she was sexually abused by her mother. Ms Bradley died in 1999 and therefore cannot answer these charges, nor are we in a position to comment on them; we are also mindful of the dangers of drawing a link between any writer’s personal life and their work. Further, we are aware that royalties from the sales of her work are mainly distributed between a range of charities, including Save the Children. We have considered carefully what response, if any, we – as publishers of her digital backlist – should make in this situation. We have decided that we will henceforth donate our income from sales of her Gateway e-books to Save the Children. We will be making no further comment on the matter. [14]

On February 16, 2016, Elisabeth Waters posted about MZB's ebooks. She did not mention profits in any way:

The MZB Literary Works Trust has starting publishing eBooks on Kobo (I attended their presentation at the RWA Conference in NYC last summer).

The most recent book is the anthology I edited last year: Sword and Sorceress 30.

I will start reading for Sword and Sorceress 31 as soon as tax season and my volunteer work for AARP Tax-Aide ends. [15]

Further Reading

Also See



  1. ^ "I’m not in charge of the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust; Ann Sharp is the Trustee. The Trust hired me to edit S&S 22. I help Ann if she asks for my help, which she sometimes does because a lot of the things I learned working for Marion are still in my head..." -- Elisabeth Waters Interview (2008)
  2. ^ "Ann Sharp, the Trustee of the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust, and Marion’s secretary, Elisabeth Waters, also furnished invaluable insights into how Marion saw these and other characters." -- Darkovan Characters: Yours, Mine, and Ours, Archived version (December 29, 2009)
  3. ^ "MZB’s partner Lisa Waters is the only beneficiary from the sale of MZB’s books..." - Yanks MZB Birthday Tribute, comment by Chris S, June 13, 2014
  4. ^ Rape, Abuse, and MZB, Archived version, Jim Hines' blog post, comments by Deirdre Saoirse Moen, Ken, and KeithM (June 23, 2014)
  5. ^ "I will not buy anything now put out by the "Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust", the Trustee of which is a Ann Sharp or Elisabeth Waters. They, and such co-authors of newly published Darkover books, Deborah J. Ross and Avalon's Diana L. Paxson -not her children or grandchildren - are the ones now benefiting from sales of her books/books with her name on them. The trustees, according to literary agent Russell Galen are aware of the "allegations" and yet remain silent and do nothing. As to any claim that funds from "Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust" is benefiting abused children, it does not mention such donations or charities at the web site... Serena at Goodreads, Augsut 20, 2014
  6. ^ "By all appearances the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust, which holds all of MZB's copyrights and is not listed in California's database of nonprofits, is funneling profits from sales of her works to a small group of MZB's friends and enablers. Nothing, so far as I know, goes to her children or to any charity. -- comment by Alessandra Kelley at Marion Zimmer Bradley - Silence is Complicity (TRIGGERS), Archived version, June 23, 2014
  7. ^ "Russell Galen, the literary agent for the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, which owns the copyrights to the literary works of Marion Zimmer Bradley and which is administered by an outside trustee, said he and the trustee were "aware of the allegations that have been made"." The allegations are the accusations that Bradley was a child molester and sexual abuser. -- SFF community reeling after Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter accuses her of abuse, Alison Flood, June 27, 2914
  8. ^ Elisabeth Waters Interview (July 17, 2015)
  9. ^ Darkover Trademark, Archived version, accessed May 10, 2017
  10. ^ Darkover
  11. ^ This is contradicted by this biography, information gleaned from the Literary Works site, as well as family history from Bradley's mother, brother and son: "She herself had a fine lyric soprano voice and for a time studied singing, but found she did not have the stamina (or the tolerance for late hours) to pursue an operatic career." -- About the Authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Archived version, date unknown
  12. ^ Author Interview: Marion Zimmer Bradley Trust
  13. ^ Delegation, Archived version, April 30, 2014, posted right before the allegations against Bradley were publicized.
  14. ^ Marion Zimmer Bradley, Archived version, July 1, 2014
  15. ^ Elisabeth Waters: News, Random Thoughts, and Story Ideas, Archived version, February 16, 2016