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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Now I was going there as a young publisher to meet the English publishers. There was nothing I wanted from them since we were not yet really in the publishing business, but I wanted to meet them. And they had heard about us.

I waited until the last day to go to the Nonesuch headquarters because I was a little abashed about going there. Finally--I was leaving that afternoon for Southampton to get the boat home--I decided I would go around to the private house where Francis and his wife Vera ran the Nonesuch Press. I was rather brash, but a little nervous. Francis came downstairs and proved to be one of the most charming gentlemen in the world. He said, “What can I do for you?”

I said, “My name is Bennett Cerf, and I would like to be the American agent for the Nonesuch Press.” He burst out laughing. I said, “What's so funny about that?”

He said, “I'll tell you what's so funny about it--about 25 American publishers have been wooing me to become the agents for Nonesuch Press. They take me out to dinner and they take me to the theater, and after about three nights of wild entertainment, they then bring up what they really want, which, of course, is what I know they want.” He concluded, “You come marching in here--I've never heard of you--and announce you want to be my American agent.”

I said, “Well, I'm leaving this afternoon, Mr. Meynell. I thought if you kicked me out, at least you'd let my partner and me put in an order for one each of every book you publish.”

Well, he started to laugh. His wife came in. And then

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