Recently I’ve been reading “Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins,” ed. by John Hall Wheelock. Perkins edited books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others during his career. His correspondence with literary giants is famous for its insight and congeniality. Modern novelist, Alton Gansky, has written an interesting post about Maxwell Perkins and about innate talent. Following are the first two paragraphs.
Maxwell Perkins is perhaps the best known editor in the last 100 years. He discovered a couple of authors you may have heard of: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Those twoauthors are great because their work was shepherded by Perkins. He led them, pushed them, encouraged them until they reached their potential.
Perkins was not a writer (although he spent a fair amount of time as a reporter, something he never equated with literary work) but he could recognize superior writing when no one else could see it. He had to fight and scheme in Scribners to accept young F. Scott. He was so protective of This Side of Paradise he let very few people at the publishers read the work–including copy editors. The first edition of the book hit the shelves with over 100 misspellings.