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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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he suddenly discovered that one of the partners in my old brokerage office in New York--the one who called me a weasel because he never could find me--was a great friend of theirs. So Francis said, “You know, I can find out all about you very quickly from this broker.” By this time they knew I had worked in a brokerage office. We had become friends within an hour. Before I left that day he said, “If Heimerdinger gives the okay--and I presume he will--you're our agent,” and we shook hands.

Then I came home. Of course as I'd done before, I called up Mr. Heimerdinger and he graciously agreed to write over and tell them (he never could find me down at Wall Street) that I was a very nice boy, certainly honorable in every possible way. So we became the agents for the Nonesuch Press.


What did this involve?


Well, it began with an edition of the Divine Comedy bound in orange vellum with illustrations by William Blake. That book came out, I think, at $46 a copy, and we kept trying to get more and more, and finally they sent us 500 copies for America. By this time we had our name on them--Nonesuch Press and Random House.


You had started the name Random House then.


I'll tell you the Random House story.

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