When Richard Marek was a young editor at Scribner’s in Manhattan in the early 1960s, he was entrusted with one of the literary world’s most important manuscripts, “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway’s intimate portrait of his life as an unknown writer in Paris in the 1920s.
Hemingway had scrawled his edits in the margins of the manuscript. Mr. Marek planned to go over it at home, and carefully slipped the pages into an envelope before getting on the subway near his Midtown office.
But once he arrived home, on the Upper West Side, he didn’t have the envelope. He realized he had left it on the subway.
Panic ensued. He sobbed all night and told himself, “My career is over.”
The next morning, he went to the subway’s lost and found and saw to his astonishment that someone had turned in the envelope.
And his career was far from over.
Mr. Marek, who died on Sunday at 86 at his home in Westport, Conn. — the cause was esophageal cancer, his wife, Dalma Heyn, said — was one of New York’s most prominent editors and publishers.
Over the course of his career he worked at a half-dozen publishing houses and was responsible for shepherding more than 300 books into print.
They included several by James Baldwin, including “If Beale Street Could Talk” (1974), the first nine by Robert Ludlum, including “The Scarlatti Inheritance” (1971) and “The Bourne Identity” (1980), and Thomas Harris’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1988). He also wrote novels of his own.
As an editor, Mr. Marek took risks that were surprising in the conservative world