Regardless of whether you take it with a pinch of salt or think this consummate professional is simply being modest, Tom Maschler says that throughout his celebrated publishing career, "luck" has often played a significant role.

Certainly, as he writes in his 2005 autobiography "Publisher," luck smiled warmly on Maschler soon after he joined the venerable London publishers Jonathan Cape and was whisked off across the Atlantic to work on Ernest Hemingway's final manuscript about a month after the author's suicide in July 1961. That awesome assignment came after the widow of the great American writer invited Maschler, then just 27, to assist her in assembling writings that were to become "A Moveable Feast."

But of course, nobody could say that mere luck has driven the career of Maschler, who is regarded as one of the most successful literary publishers in Britain from the 1960s to '80s. Now, at 74, his resume includes having worked with 14 Nobel laureates in literature, among them Giorgos Seferis from Greece, Pablo Neruda from Chile and Nadine Gordimer from South Africa.