Writer Anecdotes

In our series of writer anecdotes, today we have different writers instead of just one. Enjoy!

T. S. Eliot (1888 –1965)

Publisher Robert Giroux once asked Eliot whether he agreed with the widely held belief that most editors are failed writers. Eliot pondered for a moment, then said, “Yes, I suppose some editors are failed writers —but so are most writers.”

Isaac Asimov (1920–1992)

Once an editor rejected a story of Isaac Asimov and called it “meretricious.” The word is from the Latin meretrix, meaning “prostitute,” so that the implication was that Asimov was prostituting his talent and was writing a bad story that would get by on his name alone because he was too lazy to write a good one. (Later the story was sold elsewhere and received considerable acclaim.)

Swallowing his annoyance, Asimov said mildly, “What was that word you used?”

Obviously proud at knowing a word he felt Asimov didn’t know, the editor enunciated carefully, “Meretricious!”

Whereupon Asimov replied, “And a Happy New Year to you.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1888–1953)

Hawthorne’s son, Julian, was also a writer and father and son were frequently mistaken for each other. “Oh, Mr. Hawthorne, I’ve just read The Scarlet Letter, and I think it’s a real masterpiece,” gushed a lady to whom Julian Hawthorne had just been introduced. “Oh, that,” said Julian, shrugging modestly, “that was written when I was only four years old.”

Robert Frost (1874–1963)

After a dinner party Robert Frost and the other guests went out onto the veranda to watch the sunset. “Oh, Mr. Frost, isn’t it a lovely sunset?” exclaimed a young woman.

“I never discuss business after dinner,” Frost replied.

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

A newspaper to which Kipling subscribed published by mistake an announcement of his death. Kipling wrote at once to the editor: “I’ve just read that I am dead. Don’t forget to delete me from your list of subscribers.”

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