Thomas McCormack (writer)

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Thomas McCormack is a former book-publishing executive, editor, and author who is now a playwright.


McCormack was born in Boston, MA. When he was age eight, the family moved to Stamford, CT. Following high school in Stamford, McCormack earned a B.A. summa cum laude in philosophy from Brown University, served in the U.S. Army at the American Embassy in Rome, and did graduate work as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Harvard. After a stint writing radio news in Stamford, McCormack entered publishing.

He began at Doubleday, where he was the originating editor of Dolphin Books. He moved on to Harper and Row where he started Perennial Books, then to New American Library where he ran Mentor Books and Signet Classics. Finally he joined St. Martin's Press where, eleven years after entering publishing, he became the CEO. His maverick strategy – which included publishing more fiction than any other house in America – helped St. Martin's expand its annual billings from two-and-a-half-million dollars to over a quarter-billion. In the 1980s he had St. Martin's launch its own mass-market paperback line, the first hardcover house to do that since before World War Two. Meantime he was editing bestsellers ranging from All Creatures Great and Small to The Silence of the Lambs.

When he left St. Martin's in the late 1990s, McCormack wrote a regular column for Publishers Weekly. Titled “The Cheerful Skeptic”, it was a mixture of humor and protest as he examined and repudiated much of the book-industry's "conventional wisdom". He has been awarded the AAP's Curtis Benjamin Award for Creative Publishing, and the LMP's Lifetime Achievement Award. He has lectured on publishing at Princeton and Harvard.

He is the author of Afterwords: Novelists on Their Novels and The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist.


McCormack wrote his first play, a one-act, American Roulette, just as he joined St. Martin's. It gained him a place in the Albee-Barr Playwrights Unit. American Roulette has subsequently been staged in numerous regional theaters in the U.S. and Canada. Among the other young beginners with him in the Playwrights Unit were A.R. Gurney, Terrence McNally, Lanford Wilson, John Guare, and Sam Shepard.

McCormack, however, with new family and job responsibilities, suspended his playwriting for over two decades. His first full-length play, Endpapers, was produced in New York in the 2002-2003 season. Its cumulative audience of over 40,000 put it among the three or four most popular Off Broadway plays of the first decade of this century. His two produced plays are published by The Dramatists Play Service.

He continues to write and recently posted three new scripts online.

McCormack lives in New York with his wife, Sandra, a former book editor. Their two children, Daniel and Jessie, also went to Brown; they are both now screenwriters and directors in Hollywood. Following their graduation, McCormack gave the University money to build The McCormack Family Theater on campus.


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