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Perkins, Maxwell (Evarts).

Perkins, Maxwell (Evarts) (b. Sept. 20, 1884, New York, N.Y., U.S.--d. June 17, 1947, Stamford, Conn.)

Influential American editor who discovered many of the most prominent American writers of the first half of the 20th century.

Perkins graduated from Harvard University in 1907. After working as a reporter for the New York Times, he worked in the advertising department of Charles Scribner's Sons. In 1914 he joined the company's editorial staff, later becoming editorial director and vice president.

In 1918 Perkins read the manuscript of F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel. Scribner's board rejected the book twice, but Perkins made suggestions for its revision and persuaded the company to publish it; the book, This Side of Paradise (1920), was a critical and financial success. Perkins worked with Fitzgerald on subsequent novels. He also persuaded Scribner's to publish Ernest Hemingway's first novel and the short stories of Ring Lardner. Perkins is perhaps best known for his work with Thomas Wolfe. In 1928 Wolfe submitted the manuscript of his first novel to Scribner's; the chaotic 1,114-page work had already been rejected by several publishers. Perkins spent months working with Wolfe to cut and restructure it, and in 1929 it was published as Look Homeward, Angel. Perkins is also credited with providing the theme and overall structure for Wolfe's second novel, Of Time and the River (1935).

Other writers whom Perkins discovered or assisted in their early careers included Erskine Caldwell, Edmund Wilson, John P. Marquand, Alan Paton, and James Jones.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, [c] 2002 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Article Type:Brief biography
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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