Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Maiden Effort

Gelett Burgess (ed) - My Maiden Effort: Being the Personal Confessions of Well-known American Authors as to Their Literary Beginnings (1921) direct link
Open Library main page

The writer Gelett Burgess (for more info see earlier post) collected stories from 124 other writers about how they got their start.  Today something roughly like this appears every year or two but for all I know this was the first - it probably wasn't but just appears to be.

Like seeing older attempts at best-of or canonical lists part of the interest now is which writers are still known.  There are some but not many:  George Ade, Rex Beach, Robert Chambers, Edna Ferber, Hamlin Garland, Zane Grey, Sinclair Lewis, Ida Tarbell, Booth Tarkington, Owen Wister.  A few others such as Richard LeGallienne for specialized reasons.

And are the stories worth reading?  Well, I haven't gone cover to cover but checking several they're too often about juvenilia rather than any start to a more serious career (though not all - Tarbell wanted to be a biologist until discovering writing).  Still, I'd guess anybody who's bothered to read this far won't be too put off by that.