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Saxe Commins died, Albert Erskine and Bob Linscott stepped
into the breach. Then Linscott retired. He was not young
when he came to us from Houghton-Mifflin. He had been at
Houghton-Mifflin for about thirty years. Harry Maule, who
had come to us from Doubleday, was also getting along in years.
Hiram Haydn had been at Crown and then went to Bobbs-Merrill
in Indianapolis. He wasn't happy there. I began hearing about
his skill as a senior editor. Besides, he was the publisher
of The American Scholar, the Phi Beta Kappa magazine. He also
had been teaching down at the New School, and he had under
his wing such notables as Jerry Weidman and William Styron.
He had edited several books himself, and I heard that he was
hoping to get back to New York, so we contacted him and signed
him as editor in about 1956 or '57.
I admired him. Hiram is a wonderful fellow although very
exasperating in some ways. He has a great passion for first
novels that other people think are terrible. There's no way
to convince him that he's wrong because he loves to help young
authors along--especially if they are girls. The time that he
wasted with young women whose books were obviously destined
to sell 918 copies! There was nothing that we could do about
this. He truly had us buffaloed!
Well, we had just signed a new contract with him when...
Do you usually sign contracts with your editors?
No, but we did with Hiram. He wanted one. He now had
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