For those who like insider details on the publishing industry, NPR.org’s Arts & Life section has a story on the history of blurbs.
The first-ever blurb was given by Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman – without Emerson’s direct consent.
Emerson had written a glowing letter to the as yet well-known poet and Whitman, ever the PR expert, encouraged The New York Tribune to publish it in full.
Emerson’s opening line was so wonderful Whitman even had it printed in gold leaf on the spine of Leaves of Grass.
The quote? “I greet you at the beginning of a great career.”
By NPR associate producer Colin Dwyer, the story goes on to share authors’ and booksellers’ take on blurbs (conflicted) and to explain where the term came from (a character in 1907 book).