Friday, February 4, 2011

Publishers Said No, No, No

The rejection letter Gertrude Stein received (see below) got me wondering about other LGBT literary lions. Who else was poked in the eye by publishers?

Not surprisingly, Radclyffe Hall. When she shopped around her groundbreaking novel about lesbianism, "The Well of Loneliness," in 1928, one publisher wrote her, " . . . we do feel (and this is the fundamental reason for our decision not to publish) that the book will be regarded as propaganda, and that inevitably the publishers of it will have to meet not only severe criticism but a chorus of fanatical abuse which, although unjustifiable, may nevertheless do them considerable damage. That consequence we are not prepared to face, and so we must decline the book . . . "

In other words, we are wusses.

The book I found that response in, "Rotten Rejections," also includes a notable reaction to Oscar Wilde's play, "Lady Windermere's Fan": "My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir."

Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" earned an annoying response, namely, "We deem it injudicious to commit ourselves." That decision turned out to be injudicious.