Harcourt (Publisher)

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Harcourt was a publishing house founded in New York in 1919, which had changing names over the years and was taken over by Houghton Mifflin in 2007 .


The publishing house was founded in 1919 by Alfred Harcourt (1881–1954) and his college friend at Columbia College Donald C. Brace (1881–1955) and with the editor Will David Howe as Harcourt, Brace & Howe . Harcourt and Brace had previously been at Henry Holt . After Howe left the publishing house in 1921, they were called Harcourt Brace & Company . At that time they published Sinclair Lewis , Virginia Woolf , George Orwell , James Thurber , TS Eliot and Robert Penn Warren, among others . In addition, right at the beginning they published The economic consequences of peace by John Maynard Keynes and Organization for work by Henry Laurence Gantt . She then focused on college and high school textbooks and published some of the most popular business books in the United States. In 1954, William Jovanovich became president. He came from Colorado, was from 1947 as a schoolbook salesman in the publishing house and rose to head of the schoolbooks department in 1953. He transformed the publishing house into a stock corporation and in 1960 merged it with the World Book Company to form Harcourt Brace & World Inc. As a result, they expanded their catalog to include school books for elementary schools. The World Book Company was founded in 1905 in Manila in the Philippines for English-language teaching material and soon afterwards had a large market share of tests such as the Otis test for recruits for the US military. As of 1970, they were known as the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich . Also in 1970 they acquired Academic Press . They also diversified into business advice, insurance advice, and in 1976 bought Sea World for $ 46 million and other theme parks. In 1974 they took over the paperback publisher Pyramid Books (renamed Jove Books, but sold to the Putnam Berkley Group in 1979).

In 1982 they moved from New York City to Florida (Orlando, headquarters) and California (San Diego, sales department). In 1986 they acquired the publishing part of CBS, including the major medical literature publisher WB Saunders and the major textbook publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston (a successor to Henry Holt, from whom the publisher's founders originally came). In 1987 they had to fend off a takeover attempt by Robert Maxwell (he offered $ 2 billion), which resulted in high costs and high debt, so they began to sell parts like TV stations. In 1989 they sold their theme parks to Anheuser Busch for $ 1.1 billion . In 1990 William Jovanovich resigned as CEO. His son Peter took over the management. In 1991 they lost $ 81 million on sales of $ 1.1 billion due to the interest burden and debt repayments, and in 1992 after the acquisition they were already showing a profit of $ 107 million (after the debt had been paid off by the cash flow).

In 1991, General Cinema Corporation took over Harcourt for $ 1.5 billion. General Cinema owned a cinema chain and the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman chains . In 1993 they renamed themselves Harcourt General (the cinema chains had been sold) and reintroduced the name Harcourt Brace & Company for the publishing part. The cinema and store chains were sold again and in 1999 they were called Harcourt Inc. In 2001 they were taken over by Reed Elsevier , who were then divided into the following: Elsevier (medicine, science), LexisNexis (law), Harcourt Education (school books), Reed Business (Economy).

In 2007 Reed Elsevier sold the school book division (Harcourt including Harcourt Trade Publishers) to the Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group. These summarized the publishing activities to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Overview of the publisher names

  • 1919 Harcourt, Brace & Howe
  • 1921 Harcourt Brace & Company
  • 1960 Harcourt Brace & World
  • 1970 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
  • 1993 Harcourt Brace & Company
  • 1999 Harcourt Inc.
  • 2007 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Harcourt resigned as publishing director in 1942, leaving Donald Brace in charge.

As early as the 1920s, they offered women equal career opportunities, in which they were unique in the publishing industry at the time. This was due to the influence of Ellen Knowles Eayres, who married Alfred Harcourt. They have long been considered innovators in the US publishing industry. The children's book division was headed by Margaret McElderry from 1946 to 1972, who discovered many successful new children's authors.

During World War II, they released One must act by Lewis Mumford , which called for resistance against the fascists, and distributed 500 copies free.

Octavio Paz, Nobel Prize for Literature, was one of its authors .

In 1955, one of the editors, Robert Giroux, left the publisher and took a number of staff and writers with him when he became one of the founders of Farrar, Straus & Giroux .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Frank Pryal, Harcourt Brace moving from the city, new York Times February 11, 1982
  2. It was previously published by Marvin Josephson in 1978 and Warner Communications in 1981
  3. Riverdeep was founded in 1995 by the Irish investment banker Barry O'Callaghan. Originally part of Broderbund, The Learning Company and Edmark, in 2006 they took over Houghton Mifflin. The seat was in Dublin and San Francisco.