Weidenfeld & Nicolson Publishing Archives

The Manuscripts Division has acquired the archives of the distinguished publishing house of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, co-founded in 1948 by George Weidenfeld (1919-2016), a Austrian Jewish refugee from Vienna, who became a British citizen in 1947 and was knighted in 1969; and Nigel Nicolson (1917-2004), a British writer, who was the son of Sir Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. In 1985, George Weidenfeld acquired the American publisher Grove Press, and in 1991 sold his publishing company to the Orion Publishing Group. Lord Weidenfeld was aptly described in The Guardian as “a complex, multifaceted man of ideas, a perceptive publisher and skilled entrepreneur who spawned an impressive array of remarkable books.” The archives are comprised of 450 cartons of files (chiefly author files), as well as correspondence with other publishers, photographs, contracts, and other materials pertaining to their publishing activities over the course of nearly seventy years. Weidenfeld & Nicolson’s early successes included publication of Sir Isaiah Berlin’s The Hedgehog and the Fox (1953), Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1959), and James D. Watson’s The Double Helix (1968). Its publishing business expanded significantly in the decades after the controversial publication of Lolita. Among the thousands of other authors represented in the archives are Louis Auchincloss, A. J. Ayer, Cecil Beaton, Saul Bellow, Cyril Connolly, Margaret Drabble, Antonia Frazer, Martin Gilbert, Michael Grant, Eric Hobsbawm, Walter Laqueur, Vikram Seth, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Rose Macaulay, Mary McCarthy, Norman Mailer, Vladimir Nabokov, Edna O’Brien, Hugh Trevor-Roper, A. L. Rowse, and Harold Wilson. The archives were packed and shipped to Princeton during the summer months and will be organized and described by the Library during the 2018-19 academic year.

For well over a half century, publishing history has been one of the Manuscript Division’s principal collecting areas, including American, British, and Latin American publishers. Archival holdings on American publishers, chiefly nineteenth and twentieth centuries, include the largely complete archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons (including author files on F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, Thomas Wolfe, and some 2500 other authors); the archives of Henry Holt, John Day Company, and Princeton University Press; selected archives of Doubleday Publishing, Harper and Brothers, G. P. Putnam, George Braziller, Derrydale Press, and Garland Publishing; complete archives of distinguished literary magazines, such as Story Magazine, The Quarterly Review of Literature, The Hudson Review, and Vuelta and Plural; papers of major publishers and editors, such as Maxwell Perkins, Harold Loeb, Edward S. Dashiell, George Haven Putnam, Saxe Commins, Sir Israel Gollancz, John Lehmann, Harold McGraw, William Jovanovich, Edward T. Chase, and Arthur H. Thornhill; archives of Harold Ober Associates, David Lloyd Agency, Brandt & Brandt, and other literary agencies; and archives of P.E.N. American Center. For information about the Manuscripts Division’s extensive holdings of publishing archives, please search the finding aids site.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson files on Lolita (1959)

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