The ungainly figure of Harold Ross has played a leading role in a number of memoirs. Notable among these are James Thurber’s The Years with Ross (1957), an amusing account of The New Yorker’s early days, and Brendan Gill’s Here at “The New Yorker” (1975); Gill, unlike Thurber, was unsentimental about Ross, indeed frequently acid, but he didn’t underestimate the founding editor’s contribution to the magazine’s success. Ross, “The New Yorker,” and Me (1968) was written by Ross’s first wife, Jane Grant, who managed to make a dull book out of a fascinating subject. Ross also made an appearance in Wolcott Gibbs’s 1950 play, Season in the Sun, whose stage directions insultingly suggested that the actor playing the Ross part should be able to play Caliban or Mr. Hyde “almost without the assistance of stage makeup.”

But oddly...


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