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Thomas Henry Guinzburg (March 30, 1926 – September 8, 2010) was an American editor and publisher who served as the first managing editor of The Paris Review following its inception in 1953 and later succeeded his father as president of the Viking Press.

Guinzburg was born on March 30, 1926, in Manhattan.[1] His father Harold K. Guinzburg, the publisher and co-founder of Viking Press, gave him a manuscript copy of The Story of Ferdinand when he was nine years old. Guinzburg enjoyed the book so much that it convinced his father to publish the book and ended up selling four million copies, giving the young Guinzburg his first inkling that he might have a career in the publishing business.[2] He attended the Hotchkiss School and served in the United States Marine Corps, where he received the Purple Heart for action on Iwo Jima. After completing his military service he attended Yale University, where he was the managing editor of the Yale Daily News at the same time that William F. Buckley, Jr. was editor.[1]

Guinzburg visited Paris in the 1950s after graduating from Yale, joining other literatti such as Donald Hall, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton and William Styron. He joined with Matthiessen and Plimpton in 1953 to establish The Paris Review, an English-language literary magazine for "the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and non-axe grinders. So long as they're good" that is known for its author interviews about their writing craft and for helping launch the careers of such authors as T. Coraghessan Boyle, Jack Kerouac, V. S. Naipaul, Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth and Mona Simpson.[3] Guinzburg was chosen as the Paris Review's first managing editor, as he was the only one with and prior publishing experience, building on his time at the Yale Daily News.[1] Editor Robert B. Silvers of The New York Review of Books cited Guinzburg's "marvelous combination of idealist and realist" in which "He was always encouraging The Review not to be deterred from discovering young writers of quality" while always maintaining "a grasp of the really rough details of commercial publishing."[1]

He joined the publicity department at Viking Press in 1954 and assumed the position of president after his father's death in 1961.[1][4] Viking was purchased by Penguin Books in 1975 for a price estimated at $12 million.[5] Guinzburg retained his title as president at the combined firm Viking/Penguin. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who he hired as an editor in 1975, joined other notable editors he brought to Viking, including Aaron Asher, Elisabeth Sifton and Corlies Smith. Onassis left the firm in 1977 after Viking published the Jeffrey Archer book Shall We Tell the President?, a fictional political thriller that depicted an assassination plot against U.S. President Ted Kennedy.[6] During his tenure as president, Guinzburg also published books by Kingsley Amis, Hannah Arendt, Jimmy Breslin, Ken Kesey, Iris Murdoch and Barbara W. Tuchman. He published Gravity's Rainbow, the 1973 book by Thomas Pynchon, which won the National Book Award the following year. As a stunt, Guinzburg had Professor Irwin Corey accept the award on Pynchon's behalf, delivering a humorous speech in which he referred to the author as "Richard Python".[1]

Guinzburg was an active philanthropist, sponsoring an inner city high school class as part of Eugene Lang's I Have a Dream Foundation and founding The Dream Team of Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center.[1] which fulfills wishes of cancer patients.

Guinzberg died in Manhattan at age 84 on September 8, 2010, due to complications of coronary artery bypass surgery. He was survived by his companion Victoria Anstead, along with a daughter and son from his first wife, actress Rita Gam, who he married in 1956.[7] He was survived by a daughter from his second marriage, to Rusty Unger, as well as by two granddaughters.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Weber, Bruce. "Thomas Guinzburg, Paris Review Co-Founder, Dies at 84", The New York Times, September 10, 2010. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  2. ^ Silverman, Al. "The time of their lives: the golden age of great American book publishers", p. 157. Macmillan, 2008. ISBN 0312350031. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  3. ^ History, The Paris Review. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  4. ^ Staff. "Harold K. Gulnzburg, 61, Dead; Co-Founder of the Viking Press; President of Publishing Firm Started Literary Guild and Portable Library Editions", The New York Times October 19, 1961. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Whitman, Alden. "Viking Press Is Sold to Penguin Books", The New York Times, November 11, 1975. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  6. ^ McFadden, Robert D. "Death of a First Lady ; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Dies of Cancer at 64", The New York Times, May 20, 1994. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  7. ^ Staff. "RITA GAM REMARRIED; Film Actress Is Wed Here to Thomas H. Guinzburg", The New York Times, March 24, 1956. Accessed September 13, 2010.
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