Quiz on editors and editing

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on June 08, 2018 Published on June 08, 2018

In between the lines: Toni Morrison, who was with the textbooks and later fiction departments at Random House New York, was instrumental in bringing African American literature into the mainstream   -  special arrangement

Since it is the birthday of the discerning woman who first commissioned this quiz column more than a thousand moons ago, it’s the perfect time for a quiz on editors and editing.


Editor’s note

1 Which acclaimed Nobel laureate, author and teacher began her career as an editor at Random House’s textbook division and later edited a lot of their African-American offerings, including Muhammad Ali’s The Greatest?

2 Which poet and critic helped TS Eliot edit The Wasteland? The original typescript, found in 1968, was full of his comments and The New York Times writer Charles McGrath once described them as the ‘Odd Couple’ of 20th-century poetry.

3 Journalist, illustrator and author Desmond Doig was the founder-editor of which legendary youth magazine in the 1960s, where the likes of Shashi Tharoor, MJ Akbar and Jug Suraiya first appeared in print?

4 In April 1862, a certain Thomas Higginson published an article in the Atlantic Monthly, titled ‘Letter to a Young Contributor’, which offered advice for aspiring writers. One of the replies to his article was from a reclusive woman, who sent in a few of her works. Higginson and she corresponded over the next 25 years, and after her death, he collaborated with Mabel Todd to publish her works. Name the poet Higginson helped bring to public view.

5 This particular editor ran the magazine he started from 1955 till his death in 1992. Over time, his name on the masthead grew more and more elaborate, finally ending as “______ Mildred Farnsworth Higgenbottom Pius ______ IX Esq.” He used to say, “Our philosophy is, we must never stop reminding the reader of how little value they get for their money!” Name the editor and his iconic magazine.

6 In which international magazine is there a long-standing tradition that an editor’s only signed article during their tenure is written on the occasion of their departure from that position?

7 Legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour is the inspiration for which bestselling 2003 roman-à-clef by Lauren Weisberger, also made into a feature film?

8 What specifically are ‘editor’s pencils, ubiquitous when layouts were made manually?

9 Genius is a 2016 biographical drama about a legendary editor, who published the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, with the title role portrayed by Colin Firth. Which editor does the film profile?

10 Who was the founding editor of the National Herald, a nationalist newspaper started in 1938?


1 Toni Morrison

2 Ezra Pound, who was incarcerated after the war for his pro-fascist writings

3 The Junior Statesman, which folded in 1976

4 Emily Dickinson

5 William Gaines, Mad magazine

6 The Economist

7 The Devil Wears Prada; Miranda Priestly was inspired by the Vogue editor

8 They are pencils which are blue at one end and red on the other. The red was used for corrections in written copy while the blue was used to give instructions to the printer as it did not show on photography or lithography

9 William Maxwell Perkins, known as ‘Max’ in the literary world

10 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Joy Bhattacharjya


Joy Bhattacharjya (@joybhattacharj) is a quizmaster.

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Published on June 08, 2018
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