GUINZBURG, HAROLD KLEINERT

GUINZBURG, HAROLD KLEINERT (1899–1961), U.S. publisher. Guinzburg, who was born in New York City, worked briefly as a journalist in Bridgeport and Boston. He later worked for the publishing house Simon & Schuster as a talent scout for new authors. In 1925 he and his friend George Oppenheim founded Viking Press, whose initial success resulted from the sale of quiz and "boner" books, though the firm later sponsored many prominent authors. A consistent innovator in the publishing field, Guinzburg founded the Literary Guild, one of America's first book clubs, in 1927; he sold his share in it in 1933, the same year that Viking again pioneered by establishing a special children's book department. During World War II he served both as chief of the Office of War Information's domestic bureau of publications (1943) and as head of its London publications division (1944). His armed forces anthology As You Were (1943), which was edited by Alexander Woollcott, was the start of the immensely popular Viking Portable Library series. After the war, Guinzburg launched Viking's own paperback line, Compass Books. A staunch civil libertarian and member of the New York Chapter Board of the American Civil Liberties Union, he strongly opposed literary censorship and contended that any limitation of free expression was incompatible with democracy. He also served as a director of the American Book Publishers Council and as its president from 1956 to 1958, and as vice president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He contributed to Books and the Mass Market (1953).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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