Flavorwire has posted a whole host of rejection letters from now-popular works that at least one publisher didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Sylvia Plath, for example, received this note about The Bell Jar:“I’m not sure what Heinemann’s sees in this first novel unless it is a kind of youthful American female brashnaess. But there certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice….One feels simply that Miss Plat [sic] is writing of them because [these] things did happen to her and the incidents are in themselves good for a story, but throw them together and they don’t necessarily add up to a novel.” Brutal!
Also included are takedowns of Lolita; a children’s book by Tim Burton; and Kerouac’s On the Road. Hugely successful contemporary authors have their war wounds as well: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down nearly a dozen times.
But my favorite isn’t, technically, a rejection letter. It’s a note that Hunter S. Thompson sent to William McKeen, who had written a biography of him.
Thompson didn’t care for the book and made his thoughts known, sending a handwritten page (pictured above) to McKeen: “McKeen, you shit-eating freak. I warned you not to write that vicious trash about me —Now you better get fitted for a black eyepatch in case one of yours gets gouged out by a bushy-haired stranger in a dimly-lit parking lot. How fast can you learn Braille? You are scum. HST.”