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Aitken, Robert (22 January 1735–15 July 1802), printer and publisher, was born in Dalkeith, Scotland. His parents’ names are unknown. Sometime after serving a regular apprenticeship with a bookbinder in Edinburgh, he became established in Paisley, Scotland, as a binder, bookseller, and proprietor of a circulating library. From there he moved to Philadelphia in May 1771 with his wife, Janet Skeoch, and two children, the eldest of whom was seven; two more children were later born in Philadelphia. In June he opened a stationer’s shop and what was soon “the largest and most valuable bookstore” in the city. With the publication in 1773 of ...

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Barrett, Benjamin Fiske (24 June 1808–06 August 1892), pastor, writer, and publisher, was born in Dresden, Maine, the son of Oliver Barrett, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Carlton. Young Benjamin was anxious to obtain an education and took delight in mastering his preparatory studies. Through his own labor he was able to attend Bowdoin College, graduating with a B.A. in 1832. Although not raised in any Christian denomination, Barrett became attracted to Unitarianism while in college. He subsequently attended Harvard Divinity School, graduating in 1838. He was ordained in the Unitarian church that same year and assigned to a parish at Syracuse, New York....

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Collier, Peter Fenelon (12 December 1849–24 April 1909), publisher, was born in Myshall, County Carlow, Ireland, the son of Robert C. Collier and Catherine Fenelon. With his family he immigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen. He began his education in the Irish countryside and continued at St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. His parents had often urged him to join the priesthood, but at the age of twenty Collier left the seminary and settled in New York City, where he found work as a salesman with a publishing firm specializing in Catholic books....

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Crain, Gustavus Dedman, Jr. (19 November 1885–15 December 1973), publisher, was born in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, the son of Gustavus Dedman, Sr., a salesman, and Anna Edwards. “G. D.” Crain, as he later called himself (he hated his first name), attended public schools in Louisville, Kentucky. He later accepted a scholarship to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English. Immediately after graduating from Centre College in 1904, Crain became a reporter for the ...

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Funk, Wilfred John (20 March 1883–01 June 1965), publisher and writer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Isaac Kauffman Funk, a Lutheran minister turned publisher, and Helen Gertrude Thompson. His father was one of the founders of the Funk and Wagnalls publishing firm, a business he would later pass on to his son....

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Harper, Fletcher (31 January 1806–29 May 1877), publisher, was born in Newtown, Long Island, New York, the son of Joseph Harper and Elizabeth Kolyer. Joseph Harper, born in England, was a farmer, carpenter, and storekeeper; his wife was a Dutch burgher’s daughter. His parents, who were wise and loving, pious and strict, taught him and his three brothers, ...

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Herr, Daniel (11 February 1917–28 September 1990), journalist and publisher, was born in Huron, Ohio, the son of William Patrick Herr, a worker in the railroad industry, and Wilhelmina Stryker. Herr was raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic family and graduated from Fordham University, receiving a B.A. in 1938. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, rising from the rank of private to major; severely wounded in action in the Buna campaign in 1942, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry. Following the war he worked as a reporter for the ...

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Elbert Hubbard Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108201).

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Hubbard, Elbert Green (19 June 1856–07 May 1915), author and publisher, was born in Bloomington, Illinois, the son of Dr. Silas Hubbard, a physician, and Juliana Frances Read. After Elbert’s birth, the family moved to rural Hudson, Illinois. Elbert’s childhood was ordinary enough. He paid as little attention to school as possible, but he couldn’t avoid religion, which he got in triple doses from his father’s family prayers, the nearby Baptist church, and from the Bible readings that formed a part of the school curriculum of the day. He never submitted to baptism and in his later writings took the position that religion was a crutch that lessened a man’s self-reliance. Although he tried to avoid as much religion and school as possible, Hubbard could not stay away from horses. The first twelve dollars he saved from his chores went to purchase a horse, and in his later writings he often said that he preferred the company of a good horse to that of many a man he had met....

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Huberman, Leo (17 October 1903–09 November 1968), teacher, writer, and publisher, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Huberman, a painter and decorator, and Fannie Kramerman. After graduating in 1922 from Newark State Normal School he taught in the Newark public schools (1922–1926). Huberman received a B.S. in education in 1926 and later an M.S. in 1937 from New York University. During summer vacations he gained valuable industrial experience (beginning at age eleven) by working in a celluloid factory, a glass factory, as a post office clerk, and as a runner on Wall Street....

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Lothrop, Daniel (11 August 1831–18 March 1892), publisher, was born in Rochester, New Hampshire, the son of Daniel Lothrop and Sophia Horne. Lothrop abandoned formal schooling in 1845, when one of his older brothers, who wanted to leave New Hampshire to study medicine in Pennsylvania, asked him to “take charge” of his drugstore. A family acquaintance remembered in an article for the ...

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McAlmon, Robert Menzies (09 March 1895–02 February 1956), writer and publisher, was born in Clifton, Kansas, the son of John Alexander McAlmon, a Presbyterian minister, and Bess Urquhart. McAlmon spent an unsettled boyhood in a succession of small towns in eastern South Dakota. In 1913 he entered the University of Minnesota but withdrew after one semester. He then roamed the upper Midwest working on surveying and grain-harvesting gangs and as a reporter and copywriter; he later based many short stories on these experiences. Moving to Los Angeles with his mother after his father’s death (1917?), he enrolled at the University of Southern California. But a desultory student, believing that college stifled rather than encouraged creativity and critical thinking, he never earned a degree....

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McGraw, James Herbert (17 December 1860–21 February 1948), publisher, was born in Panama, Chautauqua County, New York, the son of Patrick McGraw and Catharine (maiden name unknown), farmers. His parents had left Ireland in 1849 in the wake of the Great Famine, coming by way of Canada to western New York. He excelled in studies at the small local school and then for his further education took advantage of the free State Normal School in nearby Fredonia, New York. While there he earned spending money by working as a book agent and magazine salesman. After graduating as valedictorian in 1884, he spent a year as a teacher and principal in Corfu, New York. About this time his own former principal, Horace Swetland, had become intimately involved with the American Railway Publishing Company—whose ...

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Porter, Charlotte Endymion (06 January 1857–16 January 1942), editor and publisher, dramatist, and translator, was born Helen Charlotte Porter in Towanda, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Clinton Porter and Elisa (or Eliza) Eleanor Betts. She graduated from Wells College (Aurora, N.Y.) in 1875 and then studied Shakespeare and French drama at the Sorbonne in France. In 1883 Porter settled in Philadelphia and became editor of ...

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Putnam, George Palmer (07 February 1814–20 December 1872), publisher, was born in Brunswick, Maine, the son of Henry Putnam, a Harvard graduate and lawyer, and Catherine Hunt Palmer, a preparatory school proprietor. Because of the father’s ill health, the mother’s successful school supported the family. George was one of few boys who attended his mother’s school, before he began his apprenticeship (c. 1825) with a Boston carpet dealer....

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Redfield, Justus Starr (02 January 1810–24 March 1888), publisher, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of William Redfield and Sarah Dejean. He had a limited formal education, turning instead to learning the trades of printing and stereotyping. In 1831 he opened his own printing office in New York City. Redfield’s early work included stereotyping for editions of ...

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Scribner, Charles (21 February 1821–26 August 1871), publisher, was born in New York City, the son of Uriah Rogers Scribner, a successful merchant, and Betsey Hawley. Scribner attended New York University in 1837 and then moved to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), from which he graduated in 1840. After a physical breakdown forced him to abandon his law studies with a New York City attorney, he organized a publishing company with a local dry goods merchant, Isaac D. Baker, in 1846. Neither Baker nor Scribner had any background in the field, but they had the advantages of good literary judgment, solid financial backing, and an experienced assistant, Andrew C. Armstrong. They ensured themselves a core of regular sales from the start by buying out the stock of religious publisher John S. Taylor. Unlike most publishers of the day, they did not have a steady income from a printing plant, but this freed them from the necessity of maintaining a large list of British reprints simply to keep their presses busy; instead, they were able to concentrate on developing new authors, especially American ones. They had the luck to begin by publishing three enormously successful books by the historian J. T. Headley; together, these titles sold about 200,000 copies in the first two years. Two other very popular authors acquired during this period were journalist ...

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Smith, Lloyd Pearsall (06 February 1822–02 July 1886), librarian, publisher, and editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jay Smith, a librarian, and Rachel Collins Pearsall. Following graduation from Haverford College at age fifteen, Smith became a bookkeeper and an accountant in the counting house of Waln & Leaming. In 1844 he married Hannah E. Jones, with whom he later adopted a daughter. While still at Waln & Leaming, Smith began publishing, among other works, ...

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Ticknor, William Davis (06 August 1810–10 April 1864), publisher, was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, the son of William Ticknor and Betsy Ellis, farmers. Ticknor spent his formative years on the family farm and in the neighboring town. During the winter he attended the district school, and in the summer he worked on the farm. Finding such a narrow life not to his liking, he followed the pattern of many of his immediate ancestors as well as New England contemporaries in their desire for broader opportunities, leaving home at age seventeen. Arriving in Boston with no clear professional direction or training, he worked first in his uncle Benjamin’s brokerage house and then in a commercial bank before turning his financial skills to a new profession: bookselling. In 1832 he went into partnership with John Allen at Boston’s Old Corner Bookstore, which he soon took over as sole proprietor....

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Van Nostrand, David (05 December 1811–14 June 1886), publisher, was born in New York City, the son of Jacob Van Nostrand, a well-to-do merchant, and Harriet Rhoades (or Rhodes). Van Nostrand attended Lewis E. A. Eigenbrodt’s Union Hall, a classical school in Jamaica, Long Island, and graduated in 1826. A bookish lad who excelled in Greek, he was hired by John P. Haven, a prominent publisher and bookseller in New York on Broadway at John Street. Haven was also an agent of the Boston firm of Crocker & Brewater. Van Nostrand worked at Haven’s shop for the next six years, during which time he read widely, proved himself almost indispensable to Haven, and became his partner in 1832. In 1834 Van Nostrand evidently found changes in Haven’s business arrangements uncongenial; so he and a friend, William R. Dwight, established their own publishing and bookselling firm that dealt chiefly in religious books. Soon thereafter, probably in 1835, Van Nostrand was devastated by the death of his wife, the daughter of the Reverend Isaac Lewis of New York City; the childless couple had been married only eighteen months. The financial stress due to the panic of 1837, compounded by the widower’s inattention to his work, forced Van Nostrand & Wright to be closed down....