Herdeck, Donald E(lmer) 1924–2005

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Herdeck, Donald E(lmer) 1924–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born November 19, 1924, in Chicago, IL; died of congestive heart failure April 20, 2005, in Pueblo, CO. Publisher, diplomat, educator, and author. Herdeck is best remembered as the president and editor of Three Continents Press, a small publishing house that focused on writings by Third World authors, two of which became Noble prize winners. After serving in the U.S. Army and Army Air Forces from 1944 to 1946, he attended the University of Chicago and earned a B.A. in 1947 and an M.A. the next year. He then spent several years traveling in Europe before taking a job as a French and English instructor at Girard College in 1952. Joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1955, he was given assignments in Italy and Guinea. While in Africa, he contracted malaria and hepatitis and had to return to America. Quitting his diplomatic work, he was hired to teach English literature at Georgetown University in 1965 and, in 1974, became an associate professor of English and foreign service. Herdeck took advantage of his knowledge of literature and foreign countries to create a course that addressed world political issues through art and fiction. He was further inspired by his desire to promote Third World literature to found Three Continents Press in 1973. Over the course of almost two dozen years, the publishing house barely earned any money, but profit was not Herdeck's main goal; he hoped to bring the writings of neglected authors from other countries to light. According to many critics, he did this brilliantly. Three Continents Press published works by such future Nobel winners as Naguib Mahfouz and Derek Walcott, as well as by authors from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and other regions. Retiring from teaching in 1987, Herdeck continued to head his tiny publishing house with a staff of just two people—counting himself—until he finally sold the company in 1996. He then settled down in Pueblo for the remainder of his retirement. Herdeck edited several books, too, such as Caribbean Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical-Critical Encyclopedia (1979), and was the author of African Authors, 1300–1973 (1973; revised edition, 1974). In 1998 he published Appreciating the Difference: The Autobiography of Three Continents Press, 1973–1997.



Appreciating the Difference: The Autobiography of Three Continents Press, 1973–1997, Passeggiata Press (Pueblo, CO), 1998.


Chicago Tribune, April 26, 2005, section 3, p. 9.

Washington Post, April 24, 2005, p. C11.

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Herdeck, Donald E(lmer) 1924–2005

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