William Morrow i(141 works by) (Organisation) assertion (a.k.a. W. Morrow; William Morrow and Company; M. S. Mill and William Morrow; Morrow)
Born: Established: 1926 New York (City), New York (State),
United States of America (USA),
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William Morrow worked for Frederick A. Stokes for nineteen years before founding his own publishing house in 1926. His wife Honore Willsie Morrow was a writer (they married in 1923), and her children's novel On to Oregon was one of the first titles to be published by the new firm. Another early publication was Rupert Hughes controversial biography of George Washington. Despite raising the ire of many people (copies were publicly burned in Chicago), the book sold well and led to other attempts to rewrite the historical perspective on similarly key American figures.

Although he died in 1931, only five years after founding the William Morrow and Company, the New York Times described him as a 'progressive publisher'. Morrow's position as president of the company was taken on by Thayer Hobson who had moved form Dodd, Mead to Morrow in 1927. Christopher Camuto notes that the firm was notable at this time for the youth of its executives and the active role that women played in terms of senior management and company direction (247). Indeed, four on the board of directors were female.

In its first decade, the company published 465 books, including works by authors such as Nevil Shute, James Hilton and Erle Stanley Gardner (who introduced the character Perry Mason in The Case of the Velvet Claws, 1933). In 1946, the company reached an agreement with Denver-based Swallow Press to published belles lettres titles under a joint imprint, beginning with Anchor in the Sea (1947). Only twenty titles were released, however, before the arrangement was discontinued.

Between 1946 and 1952 Morrow strategically acquired other publishing houses - notably Jefferson House, Women's Press, William Sloane Associates, M. S. Mill, and M. Barrows. In 1958 Thayer Hobson was appointed chairman of the board. His successor as president was D. M. Stevenson. Three years later (1961), Morrow joined forces with the publishers Dodd, Mead, and Thomas Y. Crowell to found Apollo Editions - a quality paperback line marketed towards college students. Dial Press also later joined the venture.

In 1965 Morrow bought out Reynal and Company, but two years later (1967) was itself acquired by Chicago-based text book publisher Scott, Foresman and Company (later known as SFN Companies). Although still retaining its identity as an imprint, Morrow was closely aligned with Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, the juvenile division of Scott, Foresman. From this time on Morrow strengthened its line of children's titles. The 1960s also saw the company publish Morris West's The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963) and The Tower of Babel (1968).

SFN Companies sold Morrow to the Hearst Corporation in 1981 for a reported US $25.25 million. After being on-sold to News Ltd in 1999 the company became an imprint of HarperCollins, which in the same year also acquired The Ecco Press, one of the world's most prestigious literary publishers and Avon Books - formerly a sister company of Morrow under the Hearst Corporation (see note below).


  • The relationship between Morrow and the Avon Books science fiction imprint AvoNova appears to have been as hardcover and paperback packagers of the same titles. AvoNova would buy the paperback rights (and an agreed number of copies) to some Morrow science fiction titles. Being essentially the same (albeit with slightly different title pages) the two editions invariably shared a similar ISBN (with the hardcover copy using an X to replace the last number). Both editions would generally carry the names of the respective publishing houses - either together on the title page or with one on the verso (reverse title page).

  • Further Reference:

    • Camuto, Christopher. 'William Morrowand Company.' In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 46 - American Literary Publishing Houses, 1900-1980: Trade and Paperback.' Ed. Peter Dzwonkoski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986, pp. 247-249.
    • "First Decade of William Morrow and Co." Publishers' Weekly 130 (12 Dec. 1936), pp.2294-2295.
    • "Lawrence Hughes, President of William Morrow on His Company's 50-Year Past, Its Present and Future." Publishers' Weekly 209 (12 Jan. 1976), pp.322-35.
    • Reuter, Madalynne. "Hearst Agrees to Acquire Morrow for $25,250,000." Publishers' Weekly 219 (27 Feb. 1981), pp. 68, 70.
    • William Morrow." [obituary] Publishers' Weekly 120 (14 Nov. 1931), pp.2229-2230.

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Last amended 22 May 2006
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