Bennett Cerf was interviewed in 1967 and 1968 by Robin Hawkins, a freelance interviewer for the Oral History Research Office who had also interviewed New York real-estate developer Douglas Elliman and author and news columnist Edgar Ansel Mowrer. A recent college graduate with a wide interest in modern literature, Hawkins knew her interview subject very well because her father, Edward I. Hawkins, one of the most active literary agents in the city, was a lifelong friend of Cerf. For many years, the use of this particular transcript was limited to supplying only background information, with no direct quotations allowed. This restriction was placed on the transcript because Cerf died before he could make all his corrections, and it was felt that since he was such a meticulous editor he would not have wanted an unedited version of the transcript to be made widely available. It is now being made available with the permission of his family.
James Joyce's Ulysses, originally serialized in the Little Review and then published in its entirety in Paris in 1922, was banned in the United States after being declared obscene. Listen to Bennett Cerf describe his efforts to publish Joyce's epic in the U.S., which resulted in the first authorized American edition of Ulysses in 1934.