George Backman Santa Barbara

George Backman Santa Barbara

The English Language: how lucky we are to possess it, to think it, to speak it, to write it.

I have been passionate about working with words all my life, and my experiences with them have been so strong that they have pulled me in directions that I scarcely thought possible.

I edited Horses of the Night, the historical novel about Christopher Marlowe by Geoffrey Aggeler, who was the founding editor of Editing with Panache. When Geoff died in 2018, I took over his editing of Dying Well, a new comic-revenge novel by Tom Markus. Geoff had been enthusiastic about Tom’s talent, and the experience of editing Tom's work has been more than rewarding. I look forward to reconnecting with the many writers Geoff worked with over the years.

My interests are wide and varied, and they were sparked early on in undergraduate days by a faculty of extraordinary language lovers: Hugh Kenner (poetry), Marvin Mudrick (Chaucer), Homer Swander (Shakespeare), Douwe Stuurman (everything wonderful), Aldous Huxley (Professor at Large), and Christopher Isherwood who later became a friend.

How lucky I was to be plunged into this cold bath of the living language. I have worked with such internationally prominent academic writers as Evan Osnos (The Age of Ambition) and Gaston Dorren (Lingo and Babel) in preparation of their texts for audio recording. I also prepared David Todd Roy’s forty-years-in-translation The Plum in the Golden Vase, Vols. 1 & 2, an extremely racy trio of Ming-Dynasty novels. I worked with British film director Waris Hussein on his fascinating and insightful screen play The Golden Grove, a beautiful adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard told from India in the time of Partition.

For a decade, I taught on the language faculty of The New School for Social Research in New York City, working with academicians and graduate students on their complex writing projects, often to do with the development and spread of the Indo-European languages.

I am comfortably fluent in a number of languages including German, French, Spanish, the Scandinavians, and yes, wait for it: Mandarin. I also have an interest in Russian and the Slavic languages. I taught several courses in advanced English Grammar at the graduate level as well as a variety of fiction and non-fiction writing courses.

Early career paths gave me the opportunity to travel and to live for long periods in the UK, in Spain, and in China, and I bring to my editorial work first-hand experience and a cultural sensitivity that I believe is of value to the authors I assist. I hope that you will be one of them.

I look forward to reading your novel, your short story, your academic paper, or your collection of essays. I can assure you that we’ll have an exciting adventure together and that all the finished writing will be your own, on its way toward publication.

How I Work

I like to hold your text in my hands; it gives me a good, organic feeling for your work. Hands-on marking of texts and comprehensive note taking are the traditional ways of editing. I work slowly and carefully, giving your work several readings. Often, I read your work aloud in order to hear it and to feel its flow, its diction, and its shape. I read for logical thought, for grammatical sense, for punctuation (everybody worries about punctuation), for the development of characters, and for clear plotting if you’re writing fiction. All my comments and suggestions will guide you to rewriting with economy, with clarity, and with confidence. I will be a available to you by email and by phone during business hours. You can send me your hard copy (always with a tracking number), or you can send me your text in PDF form, and I will print it out.


I do not work by the hour, nor do I work by the page. I work by the project. Your writing should be at least half completed upon submission. I will discuss fees with you after I have made an assessment of what my work as an editor will entail. Of course, a long book will take longer to edit, and the fee will be set accordingly. Your work is secure with me. No one else will see it. It is between you, the artist, and me, the editor.


  • University of California, Santa Barbara, BA, English
  • Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA, London
  • The Stanislavsky Institute, Certificate, London
  • The New School for Social Research, MLF, New York, Language

Teaching Positions

University of California, Santa Barbara

Department of Dance and Drama 
(Peter Lackner, Chair)
  • Shakespeare BFA Program
  • Readers’ Theatre

The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center, New York

Theatre Division BFA
(Alan Schneider, Chair / Margot Harley, Coördinator)
  • Shakespeare
  • Verse 

The New School for Social Research, New York

Department of Languages
(Donna Swain, Chair/ André Beauzetier, Coördinator)
  • Methods of Language Instruction
  • Comparative Language

English Language Institute, The New School (Donna Swain, Chair)

  • Developed subsidized course for ECFMG examination preparation (with Edith Bers)
  • Writing Fiction and Non-Fiction
  • Academic Writing
  • Advanced ESL writing
  • Advanced English Grammar, MA English-Teaching Program
  • Fundamentals of English