This past Friday I made a research trip to the library hosting the archives of a major American publisher of the nineteenth century. I went there hoping to find a reference to the manuscripts they had rejected, and the reasons why. My current research project, Ernest T. Morris, the “Boy Naturalist,” had his book turned down by several publishers.
I found a partial answer: a ledger book containing lists of manuscripts submitted and those rejected; and dates of receipt and return. Ernest was there: received July 12, 1881. Declined and returned to author, July 18, 1881.
As I paged through the ledger book, a few other rejected titles caught my eye:
- Reminiscences of a Confederate Hospital Matron by Phoebe Pember.
- Reminiscences of a Filibuster in Nicaragua by CW Doubleday
- Life in California by an Argonaut of 1849-1850 by George Wood of Jamestown NY
So I looked these up, to see if they were published by a different company. The first two titles did get into print, by other famous publishing houses.
George Wood’s book did not. But I did find a post from 1998 on a genealogy forum from a descendant. “My mother tells me he wrote a diary of his voyage, but his wife used it to repair the holes in their children’s shoes!”