Death of a copyeditor

Yesterday’s New York Times reported the death of The New Yorker’s Eleanor Gould Packard, who “challenged the logic, syntax, grammar, flow, usage, punctuation and vocabulary of a legion of nonfiction writers: E. B. White, Roger Angell, Wolcott Gibbs, Ved Mehta, Pauline Kael, Philip Hamburger, John McPhee, Lillian Ross.”

Current New Yorker editor David Remnick once reportedly said:

I think if there is an indispensable person here, it’s Eleanor Gould. The relationship to her is as intimate as it gets; she has been inside my sentences.

And according to music critic Alex Ross:

Hundreds of New Yorker writers have had the humiliating but rejuvenating experience of being sent back to school by Miss Gould’s proofs. (Or should that be: “… the experience — humiliating but rejuvenating — of being sent back to school…”? She lives on in our anxious minds.)


In the comments at Tingle Alley, Christian Bauman remembers reading an old article about Gould in a copyediting basics class:

Wonderful stuff. She ate the same lunch every day. [Also, some positive stuff was] missing from the obit: my favorite story, if I recall it correctly, was an article she sent back with only one note on it: “I enjoyed this so much I forgot to eat my lunch.”


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