Monday, October 31, 2005


History is full of famous authors who were deluged with rejection letters before they became published writers, so the example below isn’t anything new; but there is something about it (probably the detail it goes into in the course of being rude) that made me want to stick it up on my blog.

The letter was sent to Ursula Le Guin (it’s addressed to her agent); Le Guin went on to become one of the World’s most famous (and critically respected) science fiction authors. She also wrote “The Dispossessed” which is one of my favourite books. The letter follows:

Dear Miss Kidd,

Ursula K. Le Guin writes extremely well, but I'm sorry to have to say that on the basis of that one highly distinguishing quality alone I cannot make you an offer for the novel. The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference and information, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance, that the very action of the story seems to be to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable. The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material. My thanks nonetheless for having thought of us. The manuscript of The Left Hand of Darkness is returned herewith. Yours sincerely,

The Editor

21 June, 1968

You can read it yourself here on Ursula Le Guin’s very cool website.

If I ever meet Ms Le Guin, I will be sure to ask her whether the pain of receiving such a letter was ultimately offset by the dang tootin’ satisfaction of, many years later, getting to publish it on your website.

Oh, by the way, the Left Hand of Darkness, went on to win both the Hugo and the Nebula awards…

Hat Tip (for Le Guin's website at least): Martha Bridegam

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