Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Black patrons unwelcome? How about an African princess?

Recently, when I was looking up information to obtain reprint permissions, I found an interesting article about the late literary agent, Ray Lincoln. There are some great anecdotes here that I think you will find amusing, especially one involving the author Zora Neale Hurston.

Ray Lincoln became a literary agent in the early 1970s after a career with J.B. Lippincott, a publishing company in Philadelphia. She encouraged authors in whom she saw talent even when they were about to give up writing, and cherished their friendships, said her son, Joseph.
Among her clients were Barbara Robinson, whose books for young people include The Best Christmas Pageant Ever; Jerry Spinelli, author of more than a dozen books for young readers; and Spinelli's wife, Eileen, a children's author.

Mrs. Lincoln wrote her own first novel when she was 12 and took it to Bertram Lippincott, an editor at his family's publishing house. He told her to live a little first before making her first manuscript.
She graduated from Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, where she led the Midnight Oil Society, a group of aspiring writers. There was no money for college. At 17, she eloped with Jerome Lincoln, whom she had met at a fraternity party.
As a young wife, she returned to Lippincott to be Bertram's assistant. When asked in the 1930s to make a lunch reservation for the editor and a black writer, Zora Neale Hurston, she knew restaurants barred black patrons. She told the maitre d' that Lippincott was entertaining an African princess, and that there was to be no trouble. There wasn't.

From the article “RAY LINCOLN, 1919-2008 Her clients found the words -- and then she found a way” by Sally A. Downy on, October 19, 2008.

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