Blanche Knopf

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Blanche Wolf Knopf (July 30, 1894 – June 4, 1966) was the president of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and wife of publisher Alfred Knopf, with whom she established the firm in 1915. Blanche and Alfred traveled the world seeking new authors. Blanche was especially influential in having European and Latin American literature translated into English and published in the United States. After World War II she was one of the first American publishers to travel to Europe, and from then on she was in charge of all European efforts of the firm.

For her accomplishments in developing and promoting the literature of France, she was named a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur 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.[1]


Family and early life[edit]

Blanche Wolf was born to a Jewish family in New York City to Julius Wolf, a jeweler born in Vienna, and her mother Bertha.[2]

She met Alfred Knopf in 1911 in Lawrence, New York. They were married in 1916. Their son, Alfred "Pat" Knopf, was born on June 17, 1918.[1]

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.[edit]

Knopf began Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. with her future husband 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, a Russian wolfhound imprint marking Knopf titles. She became the Vice President of the company when it was incorporated in 1918. Knopf became president of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1957 when Alfred Knopf became the chairman.[2]

In 1936 Blanche Knopf returned from Europe and was interviewed by the New York Times. Knopf was concerned about the plight of German publishers and authors driven out of Germany because of 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."[3]

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.[4]

Knopf frequently traveled to Europe and Latin America to meet foreign authors and publishers. She is credited with recruiting Sigmund Freud, Albert Camus, André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Ilya Ehrenburg, Mikhail Sholokhov, Thomas Mann, and Gilberto Freyre, striking deals to publish translations of their works in the United States.[2][5]

Knopf also worked closely with many American writers, including John Updike, Carl Van Vechten, Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Dashiell Hammett and Langston Hughes.[6]



  1. ^ a b "Blanche W. Knopf, 1894-1966 Biographical Sketch". Alfred A. Knopf Inc. Organizational History. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  2. ^ a b c Brody, Seymour (1996). Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America: 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism. Hollywood, Florida: Lifetime Books, Inc. 
  3. ^ "MRS. KNOPF BACK, BITTER ON REICH; Home From Europe, She Asserts Nazis Have Driven Out All the Gifted Authors". Retrieved 2016-04-03. 
  4. ^ Bailey, Blake. "The Knopf of Knopfs". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  5. ^ "JWA Presents 'This Day in History' - July 30, 1894, Birth of publisher Blanche Wolf Knopf". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  6. ^ "Blanche Knopf". Extravagant Crowd: Carl Van Vechten's Portraits of Women. Yale University. 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 

Further reading[edit]

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