Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 220

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


Page 220

his magazine, he believed it would be better to minimize all incidents portraying alcoholic drinking or drunkenness. Kipling’s story depicted several such scenes; so when Bok sent the proofs he suggested that if Kipling could moderate some of these scenes, it would be more in line with the policy of the magazine. Bok did not make a special point of the matter, leaving it to Kipling’s judgment to decide how far he could make such changes and preserve the atmosphere of his story.

From this incident arose the widely published story that Bok cabled Kipling, asking permission to omit a certain drinking reference, and substitute something else, whereupon Kipling cabled back: “Substitute Mellin’s Food.” As a matter of fact (although it is a pity to kill such a clever story), no such cable was ever sent and no such reply ever received. As Kipling himself wrote to Bok: “No, I said nothing about Mellin’s Food. I wish I had.” An American author in London happened to hear of the correspondence between the editor and the author, it appealed to his sense of humor, and the published story was the result. If it mattered, it is possible that Brander Matthews could accurately reveal the originator of the much-published yarn.

From Kipling’s house Bok went to Tunbridge Wells to visit Mary Anderson, the one-time popular American actress, who had married Antonio de Navarro and retired from the stage. A goodly number of editors had tried to induce the retired actress to write, just as a number of managers had tried to induce her to return to the stage. All had failed. But Bok never accepted the failure of others as a final decision for himself; and

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