Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 138

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Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.


Page 138

Mechanically, the “reader” looked at the desk upon which he was sitting, thought of the manuscript lying in the drawer directly under him, and said:

“Yes, that may be. Quite likely, in fact.”

Of no novel was the secret of the authorship ever so well kept as was that of The Breadwinners, which, published anonymously in 1883, was the talk of literary circles for a long time, and speculation as to its authorship was renewed in the newspapers for years afterward. Bok wanted very much to find out the author’s name so that he could announce it in his literary letter. He had his suspicions, but they were not well founded until an amusing little incident occurred which curiously revealed the secret to him.

Bok was waiting to see one of the members of a publishing firm when a well-known English publisher, visiting in America, was being escorted out of the office, the conversation continuing as the two gentlemen walked through the outer rooms. “My chief reason,” said the English publisher, as he stopped at the end of the outer office where Bok was sitting, “for hesitating at all about taking an English set of plates of the novel you speak of is because it is of anonymous authorship, a custom of writing which has grown out of all decent proportions in your country since the issue of that stupid book, The Breadwinners.

As these last words were spoken, a man seated at a desk directly behind the speaker looked up, smiled, and resumed reading a document which he had dropped in to sign. A smile also spread over the countenance of the American publisher as he furtively glanced over the

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