Award-winning book editor Jane Garrett dies at 88

Award-winning book editor Jane Garrett dies at 88

Jane Garrett, who married Alfred A. Guided seven books to Pulitzer Prizes for history as an editor at the Knopf Publishing House, but saw another book lose its prestigious Bancroft Prize due to scholarly criticism of the author’s research, died at his home on October 12 Done. Middlebury, VT. She was 88 years old.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, said Anne Eberle, a close friend.

Ms. Garrett worked at Knopf for 44 years, initially as an editor and special assistant to Alfred Knopf himself, who had a deep passion for publishing history books. At first he completed their projects, but soon he began acquiring books himself.

In 1973, “People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the History of American Civilization,” by Michael Kammen, became the first of the books edited by Ms. Garrett to win a Pulitzer. The next, in 1987, was “Voyagers to the West: A Passage among the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution”. bernard ballin, a Harvard scholar of early American history who was Ms. Garrett’s mentor. A year later, “The Beginning of Modern American Science, 1846–1876,” by Robert V. Bruce, Won also.

Ms. Garrett was at a book party in Boston when she met Alan Taylor, who was beginning work on a book about William Cooper, the founder of Cooperstown, N.Y., and father of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper. They chatted and he sent her an offer.

“It was quite academic, so he asked, ‘Can you rework it and make the characters more likable?’ And I got a contract,” Mr. Taylor recalled in a phone interview. “It was the first time I got paid up front for something.”

Alan Taylor’s “William Cooper’s Town” was one of seven books edited by Ms. Garrett to win the Pulitzer Prize for History.Credit…Via Penguin Random House

Mr. Taylor later learned that Ms. Garrett already had an interest in the Coopers, which she had not mentioned to him. While researching the Cooper family archives at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, he found a box bearing his name.

“He said, ‘Oh, yes, I’m an old family friend of the Coopers,'” she recalled him telling. A direct descendant of the family had asked him to organize the papers.

Mr. Taylor’s”William Cooper’s City: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic” was published in 1995 and won a Pulitzer the following year.

Several books edited by Ms. Garrett also received the Bancroft Prize for American History and Diplomacy from Columbia University. Two awards are given each year, and in 1996 Ms. Garrett’s author took both: Mr. Taylor’s book and David Reynolds’s “Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography.”

Another book he edited, “Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture” (2000), written by Michael Bellesville, won the Bancroft Prize in 2001. That book’s thesis – that very few people in colonial America owned working guns – took a radical turn. Academic debate.

Scholars documented serious errors in Mr. Bellesilles’s research and said he misused the historical record. And scholars who tried to investigate his claim that he had studied more than 11,000 probate records—which led him to determine that only 14 percent of estate inventories listed guns between 1765 and 1790—they discovered that Most of those records were destroyed in the flood. ,

At first, Ms. Garrett supported Mr. Bellesilles. “I realize he made some mistakes, but they certainly weren’t intentional,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education in early 2002. “They were the result of some super-quick research.”

But later that year, Columbia canceled Mr. Bellesilles’s Bancroft, saying that his book “did not meet the standards” for the award. Knopf severed its ties with Mr. Bellesilles in 2003, deciding to stop printing copies of the book.

“I still don’t believe he made anything up,” Ms. Garrett told The Associated Press at the time. “He’s just a useless researcher.”

Martha Jane Nuckols was born on July 16, 1935 in Dover, Del. His father, D. Elwood Nuckols, was a planter and at one time president of the Delaware Board of Agriculture. His mother, Edna (Davidson) Nuckols, was a housewife.

“As a child, I was in an environment with a shortage of books during World War II in rural Delaware,” he told C-SPAN in 1996, But in junior high school, he began reading Life magazine and his father signed him up for the book-of-the-month club.

She studied history at the University of Delaware and in her senior year married Wendell Garrett, who became editor of Antiques magazine. After earning her bachelor’s degree in 1957, she joined the acquisitions department of the Boston Athenaeum Library. She was assistant to the director there from 1959 to 1968.

During that time she was also Professor Bailin’s research assistant for his book “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution”, which won the Pulitzer in 1968.

She joined Knopf in 1967, but did not gain much prominence in the publishing world, partly because she stopped working in the company’s Manhattan office in the mid-1970s and began working at home, first in Cornwall. , in Virginia and later in Leeds, Mass.

“When I came here, a few months ago, I realized that this was the editor who worked in the hinterland,” Sonny Mehta, then president of Knopf, told The New York Times for a profile of Ms. Garrett in 1996. “Jane was the last person I knew here.”

He also spent time at American history conferences and meetings, listening to papers and presentations in search of topics that could generate books.

One of those books was “Founding Mothers and Fathers” (1996), about the early settlers of colonial America, which developed from a paper presented at a professional meeting by Mary Beth Norton. The book was a Pulitzer finalist in 1997, but Ms. Norton lost to Ms. Garrett’s other authors, jack rakovWho wrote “Original Meaning: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution”.

“Founding Mothers and Fathers,” which Ms. Garrett edited, was a Pulitzer finalist in 1997. It lost to another book he edited.Credit…Via Penguin Random House

Ms. Garrett also edited best sellers, including “A History of God: The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” (1993), by Karen Armstrong, and “The Road from Cyrene” (1989), a Includes memoir. Jill Kerr Conway, feminist author and first woman to be president of Smith College.

Ms. Garrett’s other Pulitzer winners were “A Midwife’s Story: Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785–1812” (1990), by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and “Radicalism of the American Revolution” (1991), Gordon S. By Wood.

When C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb asked Ms. Garrett in 1996 about the six Pulitzer-winning books she had edited (this was a few months before Mr. Rakove won his seventh), she said: “ Some people think this may be a record. I don’t know. There’s really no way to know. And I hope I have a few more.”

Ms. Garrett had a second career in the Episcopal Church. Although he was not a seminary graduate, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained by the Diocese of Vermont in 1981. Her work as a pastor was mostly part-time, and she was able to do it from home whenever she had time. Editing of books.

His professional and religious roles merged in 1996, when he spoke with Knopf about Walter C. Righter, a retired Episcopal bishop of Iowa, who was accused of ordaining a gay man as a priest – and then acquitted of heresy. Contracted to write a memoir. His book, “A Pilgrim’s Way” was published in 1998.

Ms. Garrett’s marriage to Mr. Garrett ended in divorce. No immediate family member survived.

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