Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Profiles in Publishing: Maxwell Perkins

Welcome to Publishing Trendsetter’s newest feature, Profiles in Publishing! Though we almost always look to the current & future situations of the publishing industry to better understand how to adapt to changes within it, it is important to acknowledge the rich (and almost always entertaining) past of this inspiring business. We’ll share some of the most influential figures in the business, and we start with one of the most famous editors of all time.

Name: Maxwell Perkins

Birthdate/Place: September 20, 1884, New York City

Publisher Associated With: Scribner’s

Claim to Fame: Often referred to as ‘the most famous literary editor’, Perkins is responsible for publishing some of the most prolific writers and important novels of the 20th century. He was the editor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, and published timeless works such as The Great GatsbyThe Sun Also RisesLook Homeward, Angel, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s Pulitzer-prize winning Yearnings. Perkins is credited with turning around the product of Scribner’s from a formula of tried-and-true fiction to daring, young, experimental work.

Our Inner Literary Nerd Loves: In order to appear more inconspicuous in the bustling Scribner’s bookstore, Perkins almost always wore a hat, no matter how long he was planning on staying inside. He often left it on inside the office as well, to ‘push his ears forward, to hear better’ and to give “the impression to unexpected office visitors that he was on his way out…and this kept them from buttonholing him into idle conversation.” — A. Scott Berg, from Editor of Genius (1978)

Can’t Wait For: Speaking of Berg’s National Book Award-winning biography, it was recently announced that Michael Fassbender and Colin Firth would be playing Thomas Wolfe and Maxwell Perkins, respectively, in a film adaptation of the work. DROOL.

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