Harcourt (publisher)

Harcourt was a United States publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with editorial/sales/marketing/rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and was known at different stages in its history as Harcourt Brace, & Co. and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. From 1919 to 1982, it was based in New York City.[1]

Houghton Mifflin acquired Harcourt in 2007. It incorporated the Harcourt name to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As of 2012, all Harcourt books that have been re-released are under the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt name. The Harcourt Children's Books division left the name intact on all of its books under that name as part of HMH.

In 2007 the U.S. Schools Education and Trade Publishing parts of Harcourt Education were sold by Reed Elsevier to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group.[2][3] Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International were acquired by Pearson, the international education and information company, in January 2008.[4]

StatusDefunct (2007)
FounderAlfred Harcourt, Donald Brace
SuccessorHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationSan Diego, California
Publication typesBooks


World Book Company (1905)

The first-created component of what would eventually become Harcourt was the World Book Company (unrelated to the Chicago-based World Book, Inc. publisher of reference works), which opened its first office in Manila in 1905 and published English-language educational materials for schools in the Philippines. The company later moved to New York City, where it became a test publisher. Much of the company's success was based on the work of Arthur S. Otis. He was best known for the intelligence tests he developed for the U.S. Army. Millions of World War I draftees took Otis tests.

World Book Company became the first publisher of group-administered tests measuring mental ability when it published Otis's Group Intelligence Scale in 1918. Otis became a World Book employee in 1921. By 1960, World Book had a portfolio of educational tests, including the Stanford Achievement Test (1923), the Metropolitan Achievement Test (1932) and the Otis Mental Ability Test (1936).

Harcourt, Brace & Howe (1919) and Harcourt, Brace & Company

Alfred Harcourt and Donald Brace were friends at Columbia College of Columbia University in New York, from which they both graduated in 1904. The two worked for Henry Holt and Company before founding their own publishing company in 1919, Harcourt, Brace & Howe, along with editor Will David Howe. After Howe left the company in 1921, the partners changed the name to Harcourt, Brace & Company. They published the works of a number of writers who became internationally renowned, including Walter Lippmann, Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, James Thurber, George Orwell, Valentine Davies and Robert Penn Warren. Firms acquired by Harcourt, Brace include Brewer, Warren and Putnam; and Reynal & Hitchcock.[5]

Harcourt, Brace & World (1960) and successors

Harcourt, Brace & World only existed between 1960 and 1970. The name Harcourt, Brace & World was used on books that were copyrighted as early as 1931, if not before.[6][7][8] By 1960, Harcourt Brace led the market in high school textbook publishing, but had little presence in the elementary school market. That year, William Jovanovich, who had become president of the company in 1954, took the company public and merged Harcourt Brace & Company with World Book Company to create Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

This strategic action improved the position of Harcourt Brace because World Book was an established elementary textbook publisher and test publisher.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

In 1970, the company was known as Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ), with William Jovanovich as chairman. That same year, the company acquired The Psychological Corporation. Under Jovanovich's leadership, the company diversified into non-publishing businesses such as insurance and business consulting. It also bought several theme parks—including SeaWorld, which it acquired in 1976 for $46 million.[9]

Harcourt also published mass-market paperback books with Pyramid Books, which it bought out in 1974 and renamed Jove Books. It sold this section to the Putnam Berkley Group in 1979.

In 1985, HBJ merged in a stock trade with Cypress Gardens.[10] Jim Monaghan sold Circus World for stock to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich on Tuesday, May 10, 1986 at 3:50 a.m. HBJ had a new idea for the park, and closed the park at opening time that day to rebuilding it into Boardwalk and Baseball.[11] HBJ Park Group opened SeaWorld San Antonio in 1988.[9]

After an eight year stint at Macmillan Publishing Company, P, , William's son, joined Harcourt in 1980. In 1984, Peter was named head of the company's $400 million college textbook and professional division.[12]

In 1987, British publisher Robert Maxwell attempt to take over HBJ, as a poison pill, borrow nearly $3 billion. The company divested its theme park division in 1989 to Busch Entertainment for $1.1 billion, when they expected $1.5 billion, to meet its large debt. Peter Jovanovich became chief executive officer of the company in December 1989 replacing Ralph D. Caulo, who left after the theme park sale.[12][9]

Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc.

In 1991, General Cinema Corporation, a diversified company (that operated a national chain of movie theaters, and retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman), acquired Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for more than $1.5 billion.[13] In 1993, General Cinema Corporation renamed itself Harcourt General. It restored the 1921-1960 name "Harcourt Brace & Company" to its publishing division. At the end of the year, it divested itself of the cinema division.[14]

In 1994, Harcourt General acquired the religious imprint Brown-ROA from William C. Brown Company, a division of Times Mirror Company. It was renamed Harcourt Religion in 1999.[15]

In 1999, Harcourt General also divested its retail division and shortened the publishing division's name to Harcourt, Inc.[16]

Reed Elsevier Group plc

In 2001, the Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier acquired Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc. Harcourt Trade Publishers was a member of the Reed Elsevier Group plc (NYSE: RUK and ENL), a publisher and information provider operating in four global industry sectors: science and medical, legal, education, and business.

Reed Elsevier then comprised the following divisions: Elsevier (science and medical), LexisNexis (legal), Harcourt Education (education), and Reed Business (business).

Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group

On February 15, 2007, Reed Elsevier announced its intention to sell its education arm, Harcourt Education, of which Harcourt Trade Publishers was a part. According to Reed Chief Executive Crispin Davis, "This is essentially a strategic decision that we want to focus more sharply on our three existing businesses ... with better growth rates."[17] On July 17, 2007, Reed Elsevier announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Harcourt U.S. Schools Education business, including Harcourt Trade Publishers, to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group.[3] The merger was completed and the Harcourt name ceased being used separately in 2008. Harcourt Religion was sold to Our Sunday Visitor in 2009. Houghton Mifflin Company acquired Harcourt in 2007, combining the Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt names to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Harcourt Trade Publishers published a wide range of books under a variety of imprints, including Harvest Books, Gulliver Books, Silver Whistle, Red Wagon Books, Harcourt Young Classics, Green Light Readers, Voyager Books/Libros Viajeros, Harcourt Paperbacks, Odyssey Classics, and Magic Carpet Books.

Harcourt's adult books division was one of the most historic of the American literary publishers. Its backlist included Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, and Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Harcourt also published high-quality literature in translation by acquiring European writers such as Günter Grass (Germany) and Umberto Eco (Italy).

Harcourt Children's Books published books for children of all ages, including interactive books for toddlers, picture books for young children, science fiction and fantasy novels for preteen and teens, as well as historical fiction. The house was the original publisher of such classics as Mary Poppins, The Borrowers, and Half Magic.

Divisions of Harcourt

Harcourt School Publishers – U.S. elementary (pre-K–6) publisher with particular strength in the four major subject areas of science, reading, math and social studies.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston – U.S. secondary (grades 6–12) publisher with a leading position in literature and language arts, the largest middle and secondary school discipline. Holt also publishes in science, mathematics, social studies, and world languages.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich acquired the educational arm of Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1985 from CBS, and it retained the Holt, Rinehart and Winston name.[18] CBS also sold in 1985 the other arm of the company, the retail publishing arm, to the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group based in Stuttgart, and it operated as a subsidiary publishing under its original name, Henry Holt and Company.

Harcourt Achieve, Professional and Trade – publishers of supplemental and alternative core educational materials for pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools materials for adult education, school libraries and teacher professional development; and adult and children’s trade books. Includes Harcourt Achieve, Greenwood/Heinemann, Global Library, Classroom Connect, Rigby, Steck-Vaugn, Harcourt Religion Publishers and Harcourt Trade Publishers.

Harcourt Assessment - develops tests and resources for educational, psychological, speech, and occupational therapy assessment, as well as human resource selection and hiring (talent assessment). Tests include WISC, WAIS, WPPSI, Raven's Progressive Matrices and Versant.

Harcourt Education International – publisher for the UK primary, secondary and vocational (further education) markets as well as English-medium schools worldwide. Also covers the Australasian primary, secondary and further education sectors. Its imprints include Heinemann, Rigby, Ginn, Payne-Gallway and Raintree.

HBJ Publications– business magazine and school supplies supplier that grew from sixteen magazines in the 1970s to more than one hundred by 1987.[19] Executives from Harcourt bought the division in 1987 for $334 million.[13]


  1. ^ "Harcourt Brace Moving from the City". Frank J. Prial. The New York Times. February 11, 1982. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  2. ^ "Houghton Mifflin Company Completes Acquisition of Harcourt Education, Harcourt Trade and Greenwood-Heinemann Divisions from Reed Elsevier, Creating Preeminent K–12 Educational Publisher". December 13, 2007. Archived from the original (Press release) on 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  3. ^ a b "Reed Elsevier announces sale of Harcourt U.S. Schools Education Business to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group for $4.0 billion". July 16, 2007. Archived from the original (Press release) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  4. ^ "Pearson Completes Acquisition of Harcourt Assessment". Assessment & Information Group of Pearson (pearsonassessments.com). January 30, 2008. Archived from the original (Press release) on 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  5. ^ Michaels-Katz, Carole; Hoffman, Elizabeth (1986). "Brewer, Warren and Putnam". In Peter Dzwonkoski (ed.). American literary publishing houses, 1900-1980. Trade and paperback. Dictionary of literary biography. Detroit, Mich: Gale Research Co. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-8103-1724-6.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  6. ^ See copyright at the bottom of this page for James Weldon Johnson's 1931 Book of American Poetry.
  7. ^ The name seems to be in flux in 1931 because the companion volume for the Johnson book uses the earlier name: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  8. ^ The name Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc. was still in use on company letterhead in 1957. Brandwein, P. F. (May 24, 1957). [Letter to Bentley Glass]. Bentley Glass Papers, American Philosophical Society.
  9. ^ a b c Weisberg, Lori (October 8, 2009). "SeaWorld parks sold in $2.7 billion deal". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  10. ^ Vicki Vaughan (April 12, 1985). "Cypress Gardens To Be Sold". Orlando Sentinel.
  11. ^ Vaughan, Vicki (May 14, 1986). "Circus World Sold And Closed". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Wayne, Leslie (April 15, 1990). "Can Harcourt Brace Survive Its Debt?". New York Times. p. 3003001. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  13. ^ a b L., Barlett, Donald (1992). America : what went wrong?. Steele, James B. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel. ISBN 0836270010. OCLC 25315684.
  14. ^ "Company News; Harcourt General to Spin Off General Cinema". The New York Times. 1993-09-16. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  15. ^ BROWN-ROA Now Harcourt Religion Publishers
  16. ^ "Harcourt to spin off Neiman-Marcus stock - May 17, 1999". Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  17. ^ "Reed Elsevier to sell education arm". Reuters. February 15, 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-16.
  18. ^ "CBS to sell music publishing business". UPI. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  19. ^ L., Barlett, Donald (1992). America : what went wrong?. Steele, James B. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel. ISBN 0836270010. OCLC 25315684.

Other sources

  • Company History. Harcourt Assessment (website). 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  • History of Harcourt Trade Publishers. Harcourt Trade Publishers (website). 2004. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
  • Harcourt Achieve. The New York Times Job Market (website). Retrieved 2006-12-04.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories (published in the United Kingdom as The Artificial Nigger and Other Tales) is a collection of short stories by American author Flannery O'Connor. The collection was first published in 1955. The subjects of the short stories range from baptism ("The River") to serial killers ("A Good Man Is Hard to Find") to human greed and exploitation ("The Life You Save May Be Your Own"). The majority of the stories include jarring violent scenes that make the characters undergo a spiritual change. The short stories commonly have tones of Catholicism related to life and death scenarios. For instance, in the story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" the villain states, "She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

All the King's Men

All the King's Men is a novel by Robert Penn Warren first published in 1946. Its title is drawn from the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. In 1947, Warren won the Pulitzer Prize for All the King's Men. It was adapted for a film in 1949 and 2006; the 1949 version won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is rated as the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, and it was chosen as one of Time magazine's 100 best novels since 1923.

Arrowsmith (novel)

Arrowsmith is a novel by American author Sinclair Lewis, first published in 1925. It won the 1926 Pulitzer Prize (which Lewis declined). Lewis was greatly assisted in its preparation by science writer Paul de Kruif, who received 25% of the royalties on sales, although Lewis was listed as the sole author. Arrowsmith is an early major novel dealing with the culture of science. It was written in the period after the reforms of medical education flowing from the Flexner Report on Medical Education in the United States and Canada: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1910, which had called on medical schools in the United States to adhere to mainstream science in their teaching and research.

Dodsworth (novel)

Dodsworth is a satirical novel by American writer Sinclair Lewis, first published by Harcourt Brace & Company in March 1929. Its subject, the differences between US and European intellect, manners, and morals, is one that frequently appears in the works of Henry James.

Elmer Gantry

Elmer Gantry is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that presents aspects of the religious activity of America in fundamentalist and evangelistic circles and the attitudes of the 1920s public toward it. The novel's protagonist, the Reverend Dr. Elmer Gantry, is initially attracted by booze and easy money (though he eventually renounces tobacco and alcohol) and chasing women. After various forays into evangelism, he becomes a successful Methodist minister despite his hypocrisy and serial sexual indiscretions.Elmer Gantry was first published in the United States by Harcourt Trade Publishers in March 1927, dedicated by Lewis to the American journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken.

Guard of Honor

Guard of Honor is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by James Gould Cozzens published during 1948. The novel is set during World War II, with most of the action occurring on or near a fictional Army Air Forces base in central Florida. The action occurs during a period of approximately 48 hours. The novel is chapterless in form, using three progressively longer parts entitled "Thursday", "Friday" and "Saturday". From dates on various memoranda quoted, the story takes place on September 2, 3, and 4, 1943.

Before entering the USAAF during 1943, Cozzens had already published 10 novels; his duties included writing speeches and articles for Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the USAAF. Cozzens worked in the USAAF Office of Information Services, a liaison and "information clearinghouse" between the military and the civilian press (like his Guard of Honor character Nathaniel Hicks, Cozzens' first duty was revising field manuals). One of the functions of his office was in controlling news, and it became Cozzens’ job to defuse situations potentially embarrassing to Arnold.

One such incident occurred during April 1945: African-American officers protested the segregation of officer club facilities in what became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny. Cozzens included a fictional but similar incident in Guard of Honor, not as a dramatic recreation of the incident but as backdrop for his analysis of the relationship between fate and the character and personality of leaders. Although several African-American characters appear in Guard of Honor, none are point-of-view figures.

Guard was one of Cozzens' "professional novels", in which he drew detailed portraits of individuals, centering on their professional lives and the details of their work. He expertly recreates the feel of the stateside Army Air Forces, accurately recalls historical facts pertinent to the story line without becoming academic, and references airplanes and technical aspects without excessive explanation and without bogging down the action. All characters in the novel, except Nathaniel Hicks, are named throughout using their rank or title and last name.

Main Street (novel)

Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920.

Satirizing small town life, Main Street is perhaps Sinclair Lewis's most famous book, and led in part to his eventual 1930 Nobel Prize for Literature. It relates the life and struggles of Carol Milford Kennicott in the small town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, as she comes into conflict with the small-town mentality of its residents. Highly acclaimed upon publication, Main Street remains a recognized American classic.

Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars is a 1994 award-winning novel written by American writer David Guterson. Guterson, who was a teacher at the time, wrote the book in the early morning hours over a ten-year period. Because of the success of the novel, however, he quit his job and began to write full-time.

Tales from Earthsea

Tales from Earthsea is a collection of fantasy stories and essays by American author Ursula K. Le Guin, published by Harcourt in 2001. It accompanies five novels (1968 to 2001) set in the fictional archipelago Earthsea.Tales from Earthsea won the annual Endeavour Award, for the best book by a writer from the Pacific Northwest, and Locus Award, Best Collection, for speculative fiction collections.

Two of the five collected stories were previously published, "Darkrose and Diamond" (1999) and "Dragonfly" (1998), and both had been nominated for annual awards.

The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter

The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter is a book by Katherine Anne Porter published by Harcourt in 1965, comprising nineteen "short stories and long stories", as Porter herself would say. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.Collected Stories, in addition to four exclusive new stories, contains all stories previously collected in Flowering Judas; Pale Horse, Pale Rider; and The Leaning Tower. In the preface "Go Little Book ...", Porter abjured the word "novella", calling it a "slack, boneless, affected word that we do not need to describe anything." She went on to say "Please call my works by their right names: we have four that cover every division: short stories, long stories, short novels, novels."

The Color Purple

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of African-American women in the Southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. In 2003 the book was listed on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's "best-loved novels."

The Field of Vision

The Field of Vision is a 1956 novel by Wright Morris, written in the style of high modernism. It won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1957.

The Natural

The Natural is a 1952 novel about baseball by Bernard Malamud, and is his debut novel. The story follows Roy Hobbs, a baseball prodigy whose career is sidetracked when he is shot by a woman whose motivation remains mysterious. Most of the story concerns itself with his attempts to return to baseball later in life, when he plays for the fictional New York Knights with his legendary bat "Wonderboy".

Based upon the bizarre shooting incident and subsequent comeback of Philadelphia Phillies player Eddie Waitkus, the story of Roy Hobbs takes some poetic license and embellishes what was truly a strange, but memorable, account of a career lost too soon. Apart from the fact that both Waitkus and fictional Hobbs were shot by women, there are few if any other similarities. It has been alternately suggested that the shooting incident might have been inspired by Chicago Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges, who was shot by a showgirl with whom he was romantically linked, but there has been no evidence to support this claim.

A film adaptation of The Natural starring Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs was released in 1984.

The Pawnbroker

The Pawnbroker (1961) is a novel by Edward Lewis Wallant which tells the story of Sol Nazerman, a concentration camp survivor who suffers flashbacks of his past Nazi imprisonment as he tries to cope with his daily life operating a pawn shop in East Harlem. It was adapted into a motion picture by Sidney Lumet.

Nazerman is a bulky man, 45 years old, who before the war had been a professor at the University of Kraków. He has dealt with his trauma by deliberately shutting down his emotions, with the result that he sees everyone around him, especially the desperate people who come into his shop, as "scum." Nazerman is plagued by nightmares and headaches stemming from the physical and mental trauma of his wartime experiences, in which his wife was forced into prostitution and his son drowned in the excrement of a cattle car on the way to the concentration camp.

Having lost his family in the camps, Sol now lives with his sister Bertha in the suburb of Mt. Vernon. She has married a mid-westerner and prizes her American-looking blonde haired daughter over her Jewish looking son. He is also taking care of his best friend's widow, Tessie, and her dying father, Mendel. Sol supports both families through the pawnshop, which is in reality a front for Mafia money.

The novel deals not only with the after-effects of the camp experience, but also with making a parallel between the desperation of the residents of Harlem and that of the people in the camps. The major characters include Sol's Latino assistant, Jesus Ortiz and the recently arrived social worker, Marilyn Birchfield. There are numerous minor characters who are local Harlem residents, some of whom treat Sol with affection and receive only indifference in return.

The climax of the story occurs on the anniversary of Sol's family's death and forces him to confront his own emotions, including his guilt over having survived and his desire to die. The novel details the relationship with Sol's nephew, a troubled young man with whom he achieves a bond.

The Telling

The Telling is a 2000 science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin set in her fictional universe of Hainish Cycle. The Telling is Le Guin's first follow-up novel set in the Hainish Cycle since her 1974 novel The Dispossessed. It tells the story of Sutty, a Terran sent to be an Ekumen observer, on the planet Aka, and her experiences of political and religious conflicts between a corporatist government and the indigenous resistance, which is centered on the traditions of storytelling, locally referred to as "the Telling" (for which the book is named).

Year of the Intern

The Year of the Intern, the first novel by Robin Cook and very different from his thrillers, follows the journey of intern Dr. Peters through his year of placement.

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