I had to turn down BLACK SPRING

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On September 8th of 1936, Bennett Cerf - co-founder of Random House - wrote the following letter to author Henry Miller. In it, he rejected Miller's third novel, Black Spring, adding that it hadn't "the faintest chance of achieving commercial success in America."

Miller's reaction to Cerf's appraisal can be seen by way his brief handwritten annotation at the foot of the letter.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Will Campbell.



Transcript
RANDOM HOUSE, INC.
20 EAST 57 STREET NEW YORK

September 8, 1936.

Mr. Henry Miller,
18 Villa Seurat,
Paris xiv, France.

Dear Mr. Miller:

I am sorry to say that I had to turn down BLACK SPRING. I admire your talent for writing, but I didn't like this particular book at all. In my opinion, it hasn't the faintest chance of achieving commercial success in America. I hope, for your sake, some other publisher thinks differently about the book and that I turn out to be all wrong about it.

It wouldn't be the first time!

Cordially,

(Signed)

Bennett A. Cerf
RANDOM HOUSE, INC.

File or throw away?
A lukewarm prick!
Henry.