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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Hart for vacation. When I came back, Donald said, “Do you remember what you heard at Tulane about Hiram? He wants to leave! He wants us to tear up the contract.” I said, “What are you talking about?" He said, “Pat Knopf has had a fight with his father, and Pat and Mike Bessie and Hiram want to start a publishing business. He's asking us to tear up the contract.” Hiram came in. Quite logically he said, “You can understand, Bennett. I'm not leaving you for another publisher. I want to go in for myself. You did it. You wanted to be your own publisher.” We had no alternative. We tore up the contract. Hiram, incidentally, stayed at Atheneum for about two years. He went out of there, too, but that's not my story.

At any rate, there was a sound reason for Pat Knopf's move... I had known for a long time that Pat and his father were at swords‘points. Alfred was a very difficult man to work for. He was a wonderful publisher but he and his wife Blanche were always fighting with each other and the staff was in the middle, watching what was going on, and usually being berated by one of the two. The Knopf alumni is scattered all over the publishing business because they learned great publishing at Alfred's but couldn't bear working for him. Alfred doesn't realize how difficult he was. Pat was having more trouble than anybody else because his father, although he loved him, would give him authority on Monday and take it away from him on Thursday. He'd belittle him in front of the whole staff. Pat used to come to me with his troubles because I had known and liked him since he was a little boy. I was very friendly

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