Letters between author editor
Found at the Harvard's Houghton Library, the letters sent between Olive Prouty and Ferris Greenslet. These letters show the editor taking an active role guiding Prouty to make Now, Voyager the best novel it can be.
Olive Prouty's ideas for Now, Voyager are starting to gel in these letters, one from December 29, 1939 and one from early 1940.
Ferris Greenslet, her editor at Houghton Mifflin, responds to her, point by point, in this letter.
This letter was written in March of 1941 and answers a question that has haunted the readers of Now, Voyager.
A good editor will nurture the writer and be her friend, giving sympathy and encouragement during the often difficult creative process. Here Greenslet wrote a sweet note inviting Prouty to lunch at Locke Ober's.
On May 6, 1941, Ferris Greenslet suggested some tweaks to the final scene in the novel from a man's point of view.
While writing the novel, Prouty had in mind the title Post Meridian, or just Meridian. This referred to Charlotte Vale's stage of life—middle age. This title did not strike the editors at Houghton Mifflin at all well. For a while they toyed with the idea of just calling the book "Charlotte". Then when the book was nearly completed Prouty had this happy thought.
Now, Voyager was completed and published in October 1941. The same month, Prouty agreed to terms with Warner Brothers and discussed advertising for the book. The dollar amounts look strange to us today, but the practice of an author urging her publisher to advertise her book, that hasn't changed.
The New York Times printed a review on November 28. In her memoirs, Prouty said she needed "the hide of a rhinocerous" to withstand this review. Prouty and Greenslet each wrote a letter to the other, which crossed in the mail. Greenslet tried to cheer her up with his letter. Four days later Greenslet wrote this letter to reassure her, responding to Olive's letter of November 30th. These letters tell us that Ferris had a genuine concern for her feelings, and had, over the course of serving as her editor, become a real friend.