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Blanche Wolf Knopf (July 30, 1894 – June 4, 1966) was the president of
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. () is an American publishing house that was founded by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. and Blanche Knopf in 1915. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad regularly and were known for publishing European, Asian, and Latin American writers i ...

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
and wife of publisher
Alfred A. Knopf Sr. Alfred Abraham Knopf Sr. (September 12, 1892 August 11, 1984) was an American publisher of the 20th century, and founder of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. His contemporaries included the likes of Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer, and (of the previous gene ...
, with whom she established the firm in 1915. Blanche traveled the world seeking new authors and was especially influential in the publication of European and Latin American literature in the United States. For her accomplishments in developing and promoting the literature of France, she was named a Chevalier (Knight) of the
Légion d'honneur The National Order of the Legion of Honour (french: Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur), formerly the Royal Order of the Legion of Honour (') is the highest French order of merit An order of merit is an honorific order Order or ORDER or ...
by the French government in 1949, and became an Officier de la Légion d'honneur in 1960. She was also honored by Brazil with the
Order of the Southern Cross List of monarchs of Brazil, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil founded the National Order of the Southern Cross ( pt, Ordem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul) as a Brazilian order of chivalry on 1 December 1822. The order aimed to commemorate the Brazilian Dec ...
.


Biography


Family and Early Life

Blanche Wolf was born in 1894 on the Upper West Side of New York City to to a
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
family; her parents were Julius and Bertha (née Samuels) Wolf. Blanche told others that Julius had been a jeweler in
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, mos ...

Vienna
but in fact he had been a day laborer in Bavaria. After coming to America, he co-owned a millinery business (from which he divested before it went bankrupt), and later he owned the second largest children's hat company in the country. Her mother, Bertha, was the daughter of Lehman Samuels who co-owned Samuels Brothers, which was at one point the largest exporter of cattle in America. Blanche attended the
Gardner School for Girls The Gardner School for Girls was an American private school for girls that operated in New York City, New York (state), New York, in the 19th and 20th centuries. History The school was established in 1860 by a Baptist minister. The school was head ...
on the Upper East Side of New York City. Blanche was introduced to at a party at the Lawrence Athletic Club in Lawrence, New York, in 1911. Their relationship was built on their mutual interest in books. Blanche said of their relationship, "Alfred had realized I read books constantly and he had never met a girl who did.... I saw him and ll we did wastalk books, and nobody liked him — my family least of all. But I did, because I had someone to talk books to and we talked of making books.... We decided we would get married and make books and publish them." They were married on April 4, 1916 at the St. Regis hotel in New York. Their first home, which they called Sans Souci (meaning carefree), was in
Hartsdale, New York Hartsdale is located in the town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. ...
. Their son, Alfred A. Knopf Jr., known as "Pat", was born on June 17, 1918. After Pat's birth, Blanche and Alfred moved back to
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as ''The City'', is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five boroughs 5 is a number, numeral, and glyph. 5, five or number 5 may also refer to: * AD 5, the fifth year of the AD era ...

Manhattan
.


Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Knopf launched
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. () is an American publishing house that was founded by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. and Blanche Knopf in 1915. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad regularly and were known for publishing European, Asian, and Latin American writers i ...

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
with Alfred Knopf in New York in 1915. She learned the mechanics of printing and publishing and went on to become a highly influential editor. Knopf is credited with designing the
Borzoi The Borzoi (borzaya, meaning sighthound), also called the Russian Hunting Sighthound (russian: ру́сская псовая борзая, russkaya psovaya borzaya 'Russian long-haired sighthound'), is a sighthound hunting dog breed, breed of ...

Borzoi
, a Russian wolfhound imprint marking Knopf titles. She became the Vice President of the company when it was incorporated in 1918. She often clashed with Alfred's father, Sam Knopf, who was named Treasurer when the firm was incorporated. Knopf became president of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1957 when Alfred Knopf became the chairman. Knopf frequently traveled to Europe and Latin America to meet foreign authors and publishers. She is credited with recruiting
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
,
Albert Camus Albert Camus ( , ; ; 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_for = Outstanding contributions in ...

Albert Camus
,
André Gide André Paul Guillaume Gide (; 22 November 1869 – 19 February 1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1947). Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the Symbolism (arts), symbolist movement, to the advent ...

André Gide
,
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Jean-Paul Sartre
,
Simone de Beauvoir Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (, ; ; 9 January 1908 – 14 April 1986) was a French writer, intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to fo ...

Simone de Beauvoir
,
Ilya Ehrenburg Ilya Grigoryevich Ehrenburg (russian: link=no, Илья́ Григо́рьевич Эренбу́рг, ; – 31 August 1967) was a Soviet Union, Soviet writer, revolutionary, journalist and historian. Ehrenburg was among the most prolific and ...
,
Mikhail Sholokhov Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov ( rus, Михаил Александрович Шолохов, p=ˈʂoləxəf; – 21 February 1984) was a Russian novelist A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other ...
,
Thomas Mann Paul Thomas Mann ( , ; ; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_ ...
, and
Gilberto Freyre Gilberto de Mello Freyre (March 15, 1900 – July 18, 1987) was a Brazilian sociologist, anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present ...
, striking deals to publish translations of their works in the United States. In 1936 Blanche Knopf returned from Europe concerned about the plight of German publishers and authors driven out of Germany because of
Nazi Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...

Nazi
persecution. Knopf told the reporter, "There's not a German writer left in Germany who is worth thinking about. The gifted writers and enterprising publishers who had any independence have all left Germany. Only Nazi writers and publishers remain. They write and publish to please the Nazi Government."
Thomas Mann Paul Thomas Mann ( , ; ; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_ ...
called Blanche Knopf, "the soul of the firm." Knopf is credited for advancing the careers of numerous authors, serving as an adviser while agreeing to publish the work of several influential authors. By the time she died, 27 Knopf authors had won the Pulitzer Prize and 16 the Nobel Prize. Knopf also worked closely with many American writers, including
John Updike John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating art. Their written critiques or reviews ...
,
Carl Van Vechten Carl Van Vechten (June 17, 1880December 21, 1964) was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance ...

Carl Van Vechten
,
Willa Cather Willa Sibert Cather (; born Wilella Sibert Cather; December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) was an American writer known for her novels of life on the Great Plains, including ''O Pioneers!'', ''The Song of the Lark'', and ''My Ántonia''. In 1923 sh ...
,
H.L. Mencken Henry Louis Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians ...
,
Raymond Chandler Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an American-British novelist and screenwriter. In 1932, at the age of forty-four, Chandler became a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive durin ...
,
Dashiell Hammett Samuel Dashiell Hammett (; May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled Hardboiled (or hard-boiled) fiction is a literary genre that shares some of its characters and settings with crime fiction (especially detectiv ...
and
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
. Knopf helped
Carl Van Vechten Carl Van Vechten (June 17, 1880December 21, 1964) was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance ...

Carl Van Vechten
launch writers of the Harlem Renaissance including
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
and Nella Larson. According to her biography by Laura Claridge she "legitimized the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction" with authors such as Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler and
Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald was the main pseudonym that was used by the American-Canadian writer of crime fiction Kenneth Millar (; December 13, 1915 – July 11, 1983). He is best known for his series of hardboiled novels set in Southern California a ...
." Knopf was also responsible for acquiring William Shirer's ''Berlin Diary'', John Hersey's ''Hiroshima'' and works by Edward R. Murrow.


Honors

* Chevalier de la
Légion d'honneur The National Order of the Legion of Honour (french: Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur), formerly the Royal Order of the Legion of Honour (') is the highest French order of merit An order of merit is an honorific order Order or ORDER or ...
, 1949, France * Officier de la Légion d'honneur in 1960, France *
Order of the Southern Cross List of monarchs of Brazil, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil founded the National Order of the Southern Cross ( pt, Ordem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul) as a Brazilian order of chivalry on 1 December 1822. The order aimed to commemorate the Brazilian Dec ...
, Brazil


References


Further reading

* The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire by Laura Claridge, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016
Quality Lit: She Took Charge
by Francine Prose May 26, 2016
The New York Review of Books ''The New York Review of Books'' (or ''NYREV'' or ''NYRB'') is a semi-monthly magazine with articles on literature, culture, economics, science and current affairs. Published in New York City, it is inspired by the idea that the discussion of i ...
, review of The Lady with the Borzoi


External links


Jewish Virtual Library profile on Blanche Wolf KnopfAlfred A. and Blanche Knopf Library
*
Nickolas Muray Nickolas Muray (born Miklós Mandl 15 February 1892 – 2 November 1965, New York City) was a Hungarian-born American photographer and Olympic saber fencer. Early and personal life Muray was born in Szeged, Hungary, and was History of the Jews in ...

Nickolas Muray
portrait o
Blanche Knopf
in riding habit {{DEFAULTSORT:Knopf, Blanche American book publishers (people) American book editors American people of Austrian-Jewish descent 1894 births 1966 deaths Businesspeople from New York City Place of death missing Chevaliers of the Légion d'honneur Knopf family 20th-century American businesspeople