Roger W. Smith, “Jean Rhys”

 

 

‘Jean Rhys’ – Annual Obituary essay

 

 

In the early 1980’s, I saw an advertisement in The New York Times classified section (they still had classified ads back then) for a freelance writer for The Annual Obituary, a new reference book to be published by St. Martin’s Press.

Respondents were required to submit a trial essay.  Which I did (see PDF document above). The essay was typed by me on my “cherished” electric typewriter. No word processors in those days. Typos were corrected by hand.  A wavy line underneath meant boldface, and so forth.

I was excited about the opportunity to write about real people prominent in fields such as the arts and writing — I had been working as a copywriter for a college textbook publisher.

I was hired on the basis of this essay I wrote about the writer Jean Rhys. I have no desire to read her books now. But, I was thrilled then to be hired. My wife got a phone call from the editor saying that I had been chosen. “He will be so excited to hear they you called and that he has been chosen,” she said. “Well, he has,” she said, stuffily.

 

 

Roger W. Smith

   February 2020

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