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Alfred A. Knopf: Wikis


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Colophon of the publisher Alfred A. Knopf.

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is a New York publishing house, founded by Alfred A. Knopf, Sr. in 1915. It was acquired by Random House in 1960 and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group at Random House.[1] The publishing house is known for its borzoi trademark (shown at right), which was designed by co-founder Blanche Knopf. Many of its hardcover books later appear as Vintage paperbacks. Vintage is a sister imprint under the Knopf Publishing Group. In late 2008 and early 2009, the Knopf Publishing Group merged with the Doubleday Publishing Group to form the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group[2].


Knopf was founded in 1915 and officially incorporated in 1918, with Alfred Knopf as president, Blanche Knopf as vice-president, and Samuel Knopf as treasurer. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad regularly and were known for publishing European, Asian, and Latin American writers in addition to leading American literary trends. Samuel Knopf died in 1932. William A. Koshland joined the company in 1934, and worked with the firm for more than fifty years, rising to take the positions of President and Chairman of the Board. Blanch became President in 1957 when Alred becamse Chairman of the Board, and worked steadily for the firm until her death in 1966. Alfred Knopf retired in 1972, becoming chairman emeritus of the firm until his death in 1984.

In 1923 Knopf also started publishing periodicals, beginning with The American Mercury, founded by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, which it published through 1934. Knopf also produced a quarterly, The Borzoi Quarterly, for the purpose of promoting new books.

Blanche Knopf visited South America in 1942, so the firm could start producing texts from there. She was one of the first publishers to visit Europe after World War II. Her trips, and those of other editors, brought in new talent from Europe, South America, and Asia. Alfred traveled to Brazil in 1961, which spurred a corresponding interest on his part in South America. Their son, Alfred "Pat" Jr. was hired on as secretary and trade books manager after the war. Other influential editors at Knopf included Harold Strauss (Japanese literature), Herbert Weinstock (biography of musical composers), Judith Jones (culinary texts), as well as Angus Cameron, Charles Elliott, Lee Goerner, Robert Gottlieb, Ashbel Green, Carol Brown Janeway, Michael Magzis, Anne McCormick, Nancy Nicholas, Dan Okrent, Regina Ryan, Sophie Wilkins, and Vicky Wilson. Knopf also employed literary scouts to good advantage.[3]

A publisher of hardcover fiction and nonfiction, Knopf's list of authors includes John Banville, Max Beerbohm, Carl Bernstein, Walter R. Brooks, Robert Caro, Willa Cather, John Cheever, Julia Child, Bill Clinton, Michael Crichton, Joan Didion, Fernanda Eberstadt, Bret Easton Ellis, Joseph J. Ellis, Anne Frank, Lee H. Hamilton, Carl Hiaasen, Kazuo Ishiguro, Thomas Kean, John Keegan, Jack London, Thomas Mann, Gabriel García Márquez, Yann Martel, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, H. L. Mencken, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami, P. D. Ouspensky, Christopher Paolini, Henry Petroski, Ezra Pound, Anne Rice, Dorothy Richardson, Susan Swan, Donna Tartt, Anne Tyler, John Updike, Andrew Vachss, Carl Van Vechten, James D. Watson and Elinor Wylie. At least 17 Nobel Prize and 47 Pulitzer Prize winning authors have been published by Knopf, though they have also passed at times on subsequently notable books.[4]

Since founding, Knopf has paid close attention to design and typography[5], employing notable designers and typographers including William Addison Dwiggins, Harry Ford, Steven Heller, Chip Kidd, Bruce Rogers, Rudolf Ruzicka, and Beatrice Warde.

In 1991, Knopf revived the "Everyman's Library" series, originally published in England in the early twentieth century. This series consists of classics of world literature in affordable hardcover editions. The series has grown over the years to include lines of Children's Classics and Pocket Poets.


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