Stet: An Editor’s Life

Stet coverStet: An Editor’s Life
Diana Athill
Grove Press (October 15, 2014), 260 pages
Kindle edition $8.63, Amazon paperback $16.00
Purchased during an Early Bird Books sale for $2.99

This memoir was a delightful diversion.

The second world war played a lot of havoc with the lives of many people in England. (There’s a serious understatement.) André Deutsch was a Hungarian who was stranded there at the outset of the war. After the war he started a publishing house with an absurdly small amount of capital. Warned against giving the firm a foreign-sounding in the wake of the war, he called it Allan Wingate. Stretched thin financially and having alienated his investors, he ceded the firm to them and founded André Deutsch Ltd.

With him from the very beginning was Diana Athill. The circumstances of wartime employment and the oddities of wartime personal relationships brought the two of them together and she continued to work for him in spite of his difficult personality and eccentricities.

While the two firms were tiny compared to the U.K.’s big publishing houses, Deutsch and Athill recruited a significant portfolio of distinguished authors, including Terry Southern, V. S. Naipaul, Jack Kerouac, Philip Roth, and Simone de Beauvoir.

Those of you who enjoy “inside publishing” memoirs will not be disappointed by Athill’s recollections.

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