Nan A. Talese, President, Publisher and Editorial Director of her eponymous Doubleday imprint, will retire at the end of the year, bringing an end to one of publishing’s most celebrated careers that also included stints at Random House, Simon & Schuster and Houghton Mifflin.
Since starting her Nan A. Talese imprint at Doubleday in 1990, Talese, who is married to author Gay Talese, has published a list of prominent authors including Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Adam Haslett, Alex Kotlowitz, Pat Conroy, Thomas Keneally, Mia Farrow, Jim Crace, Valerie Martin, Peter Ackroyd, Mary Morris, Louis Begley, Jennifer Egan, Mark Richard, Judy Collins, Barry Unsworth, Antonia Fraser, Thomas Cahill, Janet Wallach, and George Plimpton.
Talese’s successor was not announced.
After beginning her career at Vogue, Talese joined Random House in 1959 as a copy editor, then became the first woman to hold the position of literary editor. In that role, she worked with such writers as A. E. Hotchner and Robert Penn Warren, among many others. In a subsequent run at Simon and Schuster she edited Schindler’s List and at Houghton Mifflin acquired The Handmaid’s Tale and The Prince of Tides.
Handmaid’s author Margaret Atwood said in a statement, “No editor has seen so many changes and done so much in publishing as the legendary and much beloved Nan Talese, known fondly to some as ‘the Nanster.’ She first came into my life at Simon and Schuster, then dragged me behind her troika as she galloped through the wilderness to Houghton Mifflin — where she acquired The Handmaid’s Tale sight unseen, in a preemptive bid — and then sashayed over to Doubleday. ‘Nanster, what are you doing?’ I cried in dismay. ‘I like a challenge,’ she said calmly, adjusting her white beret and trademark pearls.
Continued Atwood, “I can’t imagine her actually ‘retiring.’ It’s a figure of speech. She will continue reading, and reading my work, I hope, and offering commentary: ‘None of these people are very nice.’”
“Nan’s retirement in December this year will define one of the greatest publishing careers in the English-speaking world,” says Ian McEwan. “Writers and readers alike have been blessed by her supreme editorial judgement and total commitment to new writing. She has fought like a tigress for her authors, for the quality of their work, and for its presentation to the world. In turn, her authors have been wise in their loyalty.”