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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Rejection Slips

The following letter was found among Carson McCullers‘ correspondence. It is dated November 10, 1939 and signed by Geraldine Mavor on behalf of the literary agent, Maxim Lieber:

Dear Mrs McCullers
I am sorry to say that your manuscripts SUCKER and COURT IN THE WEST EIGHTIES have been rejected by the following magazines respectively; The Virginia Quarterly, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Redbook, Harper’s Bazaar, American Mercury, North American Review, Yale Review, Southern Review, Story, and; The Virginia Quarterly, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New Yorker,Harper’s Bazaar, Coronet, North American Review, The American Mercury, The Yale Review, Story, The Southern Review, Zone, Nutmeg.
We are returning the two stories herewith.

5 Responses to “The Rejection Slips”

  1. Lily says:

    I don’t know if it’s worse having an agent who bundles your rejections to you in one massive “no thanks” letter — or to have them trickle into your mailbox and inbox, which is my fate. Either way, not so great. (And who knew she wrote a story called Sucker!)

    jb says: Hi Lily. Sucker was not published until 1963 in the Saturday Evening Post, and the magazine carried a note from the author saying . . .”I think it was my first short story; at least it was the first short story I was proud to read to my family . . . I wrote it when I was seventeen, and my daddy had just given me my first typewriter. I remember writing the story in longhand, and then painfully typing it out.”

  2. Jeanne Leiby, Editor says:

    Dear Ms. McCullers

    My name is Jeanne Leiby; I’m the new editor of The Southern Review. I’m wondering if it would be possible for us to reconsider your work?

    Best regards,

    Jeanne M. Leiby
    Editor and Director
    The Southern Review

    jb says: Hey, you’re a little late, Jeanne. But we’ll find something for you.

  3. Jeanne Leiby, Editor says:

    I actually am the editor of The Southern Review. Your blog showed up on a google alert. You’ve got a nice blog. Keep it up.

    All best,

    jb says: Thanks Jeanne. We do our best.

  4. Virginia Quarterly Review has rejected some of the best writers in the land, embarrassingly enough. As we research and catalog our own archives, we’ve found some pretty foolish rejections over time. To be fair, many now-famous writers started off writing some pretty bad stuff that was rightly declined.

  5. Jason Robinson says:

    I always receive rejection letters. But I really don’t care at all. Because I know that I can still do better and deserve better. It gives me more ideas which things I should change to become good at something.