Cass Canfield

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Cass Canfield
Born Augustus Cass Canfield
(1897-04-26)April 26, 1897
New York City, U.S.
Died March 27, 1986(1986-03-27) (aged 88)
New York City, U.S.
Education Groton School
New College, Oxford
Alma mater Harvard University, 1919
Occupation Publishing executive
Known for President and chairman of Harper & Brothers
Spouse(s) Katherine Temple Emmet
(m. 1922; div. 1937)

Jane Sage White
(m. 1938; her death 1984)

Joan H. King
(m. 1984; his death 1986)
Parent(s) Augustus Cass Canfield and Josephine Houghteling
Family Lewis Cass (great grandfather)

Augustus Cass Canfield (April 26, 1897 – March 27, 1986) was an American publishing executive who was the longtime president and chairman of Harper & Brothers, later Harper & Row.[1]

Early life[edit]

Canfield was the son of Augustus Cass Canfield (1854—1904), a wealthy engineer and yachtsman, and his wife, the former Josephine Houghteling. His stepfather was Frank Gray Griswold, a relative of American bishop Frank Griswold. He also was a great-grandson of Presidential candidate Lewis Cass. He had two sisters: Mary Cass Canfield and Laura Cass Canfield (Mrs William Lawrence Wood).

He attended the Groton School and Harvard University, graduating from Harvard in 1919 after serving as a lieutenant in the United States Army during World War I. Canfield also studied at New College, Oxford and trekked through Asia, retracing the route of Marco Polo.


After returning to New York, he worked as a reporter and advertising salesman for the New York Post. In 1924, he invested in Harper & Brothers and became manager of its London office. He held various executive positions with Harper's in London and New York between then and 1931; among the writers whom he signed to Harper's contracts were James Thurber, E. B. White, J. B. Priestley, Harold Laski, John Gunther, and Julian Huxley. EM Delafield dedicated The Provincial Lady Goes Further to him.[2] It was thanks to Canfield that in 1958 John Updike's first book was published with Harper and Brothers.[3]

Canfield was president of Harper & Brothers from 1931–45, board chairman from 1945–55, and chairman of the executive committee from 1955-67. From 1967 until his death in 1986, he was House Senior Editor at Harper's. He also wrote seven nonfiction books.

Government and political activities[edit]

During World War II, Canfield took a leave of absence from Harper's to serve as a member of the Board of Economic Warfare, the Foreign Economic Administration, and the United States Office of War Information. He was a founder of the journal Foreign Affairs.

Canfield campaigned for Adlai Stevenson in 1956. He was a strong supporter of birth control, served as chair of the executive committee of Planned Parenthood, and traveled extensively giving speeches and raising money to support the organization.

Personal life[edit]

Canfield was thrice married. He married his first wife, Katherine Temple Emmet, in 1922 and was divorced by her in June 1937 (she married, in October 1937, John D W Churchill). They had two sons:

  • Michael Temple Canfield (1926–69, adopted), a London representative of Harper & Row who became the first husband of Lee Radziwill.
  • Cass Canfield Jr., a senior executive at Harper & Row.

According to the memoirs of Loelia, Duchess of Westminster, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom believed that Michael Canfield was actually the biological son of his brother Prince George, Duke of Kent and socialite Kiki Preston.

In 1938, Canfield married his second wife, Jane Sage White, a sculptor. She was the former wife of Charles Fairchild Fuller and a daughter of Ernest Ingersoll White. By this marriage Canfield had three stepchildren: Jane Sage Fuller, Blair Fairchild Fuller, and Isabelle Whitney "Jill" Fuller. They remained married until Jane's death in 1984.

In 1984, Canfield married Joan H. King. They remained married until his death in 1986.[1]



  • The Publishing Experience (1969)
  • Up and Down and Around (1971)
  • The Incredible Pierpont Morgan (1974)
  • Samuel Adams' Revolution (1976)
  • The Iron Will of Jefferson Davis (1978)
  • Outrageous Fortunes: The Story of the Medici, the Rothschilds and J. Pierpont Morgan (1981)
  • The Six (1983)


  1. ^ a b c "Cass Canfield, A Titan of Publishing, Is Dead at 88", New York Times (March 28, 1986).
  2. ^ The Provincial Lady Goes Further, dedication page
  3. ^ Adam Begley, Updike (New York: HarperCollins, 2014), pp. 72-73.

External links[edit]