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'Receptionist' Janet Groth recalls her days at The New Yorker from 1957-1978

After interviewing with a timid E.B. White, Janet Groth secured a job as a receptionist at The New Yorker, where she stayed for more than two decades. At the magazine, Groth got to know – and answered the phone for – many up-and-coming and already famous writers and got a firsthand look behind the scenes of the venerable magazine. Here are six of the stories Groth recalls in her book 'The Receptionist.'

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Courtesy of the E.B. White Estate

1. Interviewing with E.B. White

"Charlotte's Web" author White was one of the writers on staff when Groth interviewed for a position at The New Yorker, and "his shyness ... was of mythic proportions," Groth wrote. "He seemed pained to be in the presence of anyone at all, much less a corn-fed girl from Iowa who was looking for a job." While talking with her, "his eyes [were] cast down, his voice little above a whisper," according to Groth. Nonetheless, after Groth said she'd like to do anything except be part of a typing pool, White handed her over to the secretarial personnel manager to see if there was anything they could do for Groth.


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