Miss Skippit

Andrew O'Hagan on recently-retired London Review of Books editor Mary-Kay Wilmers, a.k.a. Miss Skippit:

Some people are orderly – to the point of disorder, obsessive-compulsively – and other people are disorderly in a productive way. Mary-Kay is in the latter class, good at appointments (hair, board meetings, eye drops) but not so hot on deadlines or at keeping her desk tidy. I once turned up at her house with a very long piece I’d been working on for months. For some reason, I couldn’t get the page numbering to work, so when she dropped the manuscript on the floor I nearly had a heart attack. She simply laughed, and said she’d work it out later. I knew then that we would never be married. Mary-Kay can endure any amount of doubt, and part of ‘the happiness of getting it down right’, as William Maxwell put it, may have lain for her in the mystery of not knowing exactly how she would do it. The spirit of Miss Skippit is alive in those moments, a certain coolness in the face of the unknowable.