Giroux, Robert 1914-2008

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Giroux, Robert 1914-2008


See index for CA sketch: Born April 8, 1914, in or near Jersey City, NJ; died September 5, 2008, in Tinton Falls, NJ. Publisher, book editor, and author. Giroux was honored by prestigious literary awards, not for his work as an author but for his undisputed talent for discovering and fostering the careers of many literary giants of the twentieth century. He was able to spot the seeds of genius in writers whose careers were only beginning to unfold. Giroux began his editorial career with the publisher Harcourt, Brace, and Company in 1940. In the fifteen years that he spent there, half of them as editor in chief of the trade books division, Giroux was responsible for the literary debuts of writers like Edmund Wilson, Flannery O'Connor, Jack Kerouac, Bernard Malamud, and many others who went on to stellar careers. He became a mentor and personal friend to several of his authors, respected for his good taste, impeccable manners, and unfailing support in good times and bad. He was so deeply admired that, when Giroux left Harcourt in 1955 to join the publishing company of Farrar, Straus, more than a dozen of his authors followed him there, including poets T.S. Eliot and Robert Lowell. Giroux had become wary of his former employer, where the growing emphasis was on the textbook market, and he longed for an opportunity to focus on creative talent. He believed that quality would attract a loyal readership and the profits would take care of themselves. He was correct. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (as the company was called after Giroux became a full partner in 1964) became one of the most respected publishers of serious literature in America. A notable number of Farrar, Straus authors earned National Book Awards, Nobel Prizes, Pulitzer Prizes, and other coveted literary honors. Giroux himself received the Ivan Sandrof Award from the National Book Critics Circle and a prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other awards. He retired in 1996. Giroux dedicated his career to publishing the work of others, but he was an author in his own right as well. His books include The Book Known as Q: A Consideration of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1982), which was described as an extension of the talent that Giroux had demonstrated early in his career. It was an exploration of Shakespeare's work before his name had become a household word. Giroux also wrote The Future of the Book (1984), A Deed of Death: The Story behind the Unsolved Murder of Hollywood Director William Desmond Taylor (1990), and an oft-cited pamphlet based on his earlier R.R. Bowker Lecture, "The Education of an Editor" (1982).



Chicago Tribune, September 6, 2008, sec. 1, p. 16.

Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2008, p. B8.

New York Times, September 6, 2008, p. B9.

Times (London, England), September 9, 2008, p. 55.