News Release — October 1, 2007
Harry Ransom Center Displays Notable Author Rejection Letters
EVENT: The Harry Ransom Center displays a small selection of notable author rejection letters from the Alfred A. Knopf archive housed at the Center.
WHEN: Through Nov. 4.
WHERE: The lobby of the Harry Ransom Center, 21st and Guadalupe streets.
BACKGROUND: The extensive Knopf archive covers the years 1873 to 1996 and reveals the many aspects and associations of the publisher with such important writers as Willa Cather, Jorge Amado, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, H. L. Mencken and Jean-Paul Sartre, among many others. It also contains a large collection of rejection "sheets" and longer readers' reports assessing the value of submitted manuscripts.
David M. Oshinsky, Pulitzer Prize winner and holder of the Jack S. Blanton Chair in History at The University of Texas at Austin, recently published a piece in the New York Times, "No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov," which described editorial appraisals of now famous authors' manuscripts contained within the Knopf rejection files. These readers' reports and letters show that Knopf and his staff rejected submissions for aesthetic, financial and cultural reasons and occasionally dismissed works now considered timeless literary classics.
The display includes some of these letters, as well as readers' reports meant for internal circulation only. In addition to publishers' archives, the Ransom Center holds various publishing-related archives, including those of literary agents, magazines, journals and booksellers.