F. Scott Fitzgerald argued endlessly with his editor, Maxwell Perkins of Scribner’s, that he wanted his new book to be titled, Trimalchio in West Egg, after the wealthy patron in Petronius’s, Satyricon, but Perkins insisted it was unpronounceable. So Fitzgerald suggested the novel be called, High-bouncing Lover, which Perkins didn’t like either. After Fitzgerald offered his next choice, the compromise was struck. Instead of, Gold-hatted Gatsby, it was published as, The Great Gatsby. But Fitzgerald long-lamented his book had not been named Trimalchio in West Egg.
Ernest Hemingway worked on his memoir of life as a struggling writer during his days in Paris of the 1920s until his death. He had never found a title to suit the book, but considered names like, Love is Hunger, It is Different in the Ring, The Eye and the Ear… After his death in ’61, his wife, Mary, came across a letter that her husband had written to a friend, from which she chose the title for the memoir’s posthumous publication. In it Hemingway wrote: “If you are lucky enough to live in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is A Moveable Feast.
Robert Benchley’s grandson, Peter, became a best-selling author in 1974 with the publication of his horror-at-the-beach novel, Jaws. But choosing a title was not easy. Up until a few minutes before going to press, Benchley and his editor could not commit to Great White, The Shark, Leviathan Rising, or The Jaws of Death. The only thing they did agree on was the word “jaws”, and since nobody ever reads first novels, anyway, Peter Benchley decided the single word was enough for the title page of his debut book. Hence, Jaws, a thriller that became a bestseller, broke box office records, and sent a generation of people running out from the surf and into the pool.