Saturday, July 13, 2013

Happy birthday, Charles Scribner Jr.

It is the birthday of Charles Scribner Jr. (1921), who succeeded his father as head of the publishing company Charles Scribner's Sons and ran it for 34 years. His great-grandfather, Charles I, founded the company in 1846. He was Ernest Heminway's personal editor at the end of the famed writer's career. In his memoir, In the Company of Writer: A Life in Publishing (1991), Scribner noted that in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' book The Secret River (1955) she never revealed the race of the main character, Calpurnia. It was published after her death, so she couldn't be consulted about her intention. It was published at a time when white publishers didn't do books with African American themes, and it was likely school boards would reject such books. Scribner decided to leave Calpurnia's race unstated but use dark paper to suggest her race. He said it was "one of my silent contributions to dissolving the color barrier in the 1950s." The book won the Newbery Honor Award. Scribner also wrote The Enduring Hemingway: An Anthology of a Lifetime in Literature (1974), The Devil's Bridge: A Legend (1978), and In the Web of Ideas (1993).

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