From Letter to Lord Byron

A publisher’s an author’s greatest friend,
A generous uncle, or he ought to be.
(I’m sure we hope it pays him in the end.)
I love my publishers and they love me,
At least they paid a very handsome fee
To send me here. I’ve never heard a grouse
Either from Russell Square or Random House.
But now I’ve got uncomfortable suspicions,
I’m going to put their patience out of joint.
Though it’s in keeping with the best traditions
For Travel Books to wander from the point
(There is no other rhyme except anoint),
They well may charge me with – I’ve no defenses –
Obtaining money under false pretences.
. . . . . .
So this, my opening chapter, has to stop
With humbly begging everybody’s pardon.
From Faber first in case the book’s a flop,
Then from the critics lest they should be hard on
The author when he leads them up the garden,
Last from the general public he must beg
Permission now and then to pull their leg.
 .

It’s always good to have an appreciative author. We never did a book for Professor G. L. S. Shackle, but he would call or write to everyone involved in the process, thanking them for making his book so handsome. It made you keen to work on the next one. This is probably a good move for any author, even if you aren’t sure your next book will come from the same publishing house. People do change jobs.

Auden wrote Letter to Lord Byron, a pastiche of Byron’s Don Juan, on his visit to Iceland in 1936. Obviously Faber expected a travel book. Letters from Iceland was indeed forthcoming, a book in prose and verse by Auden and Louis MacNeice. No doubt Faber and Random House have done very nicely out of this Byron piece as well as the other writings of W. H. Auden, though perhaps not as well as John Murray did out of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Murray disagreed with Byron about the satirical and sexual content of  Don Juan, and actually abandoned publication after the 5th Canto though sales were good.

Sorry I can’t seem to get rid of that indent in the first stanza. Word Press is not set up for verse!

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