Not long before I began my new HRC job, I discovered (thanks to my father’s internet sleuthing) that the HRC held a query letter from my grandmother to the Alfred A. Knopf publishing company. She wrote to them in the mid-1950s to ask if they’d want to publish a novel based on her life — a kind of “female Tom Sawyer story,” as she put it. They didn’t. Twenty-five years later she wrote the memoir manuscript I’m currently adapting; twenty-five years after that, I got the HRC internship.
On our first day of orientation, I had just enough time to glance at the letter and to laugh a little at how Louise-ish it is, how her style hadn’t really changed much in twenty-five years. The rejection letters are filed in a different set of manuscript boxes and are uncataloged. There’s a binder in the reading room, I think, that lists their contents. I’m planning to look for their response to Louise soon, though if it was a form letter, it may not have been saved, I suppose.
This morning the NY Times Book Review ran a story (by a UT professor) about the rejection letters and reader reports in the Knopf collection. Now I just want to sit down and look through all of them.