rejection letters, 1933-1937

page from a scrapbook of rejection letters of mary horlbeck

I added a new post to buckfifty.org today that’s pretty fascinating. It includes a slideshow of rejection letters from a scrapbook that jhh and I found in our basement back when we lived at 29th and Wyandot here in Highland.

The author of the scrapbook was Mary E. Horlbeck, a writer who lived in Edgewater during the 1930s. Between 1933 and 1937 she created this book of 138 rejection letters she received from magazines and newspapers for short stories she had written. She did eventually publish some stories, but not until after this scrapbook was full. It’s a remarkable expression of the dedication of a writer to getting published during the great depression.

Scrapbooks provide a fascinating glimpse into the past; in fact, Jessica Helfand has published a book on the topic (Scrapbooks, published by Yale University Press). Although this scrapbook doesn’t have the design sensibility of some of those that Helfand includes in her book (Anne Sexton’s scrapbook, for instance) Mary Horlbeck’s scrapbook is still charming and insightful.

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