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Knopf, Blanche Wolf


KNOPF, BLANCHE WOLF (1894–1966), U.S. publisher known for discovering and nurturing literary excellence. Knopf was born in New York City. Her education at the Gardner School was supplemented by tutors in French and German. She met her husband, Alfred A. *Knopf, in 1911 and, as their relationship grew closer, encouraged his dream of starting a publishing house, which he did a year before their 1916 marriage.

Blanche Wolf Knopf began her career in publishing with her husband at a time when neither women nor Jews were welcome as leaders in the field. She skillfully used her natural and acquired assets to make a lasting contribution to both American and world letters. Not the least of her contributions was the selection of the borzoi or Russian wolfhound as the Knopf logo. She became vice president of Alfred A. Knopf Inc. in 1921, and its president in 1957, when her husband became chairman of the company.

Blanche Knopf 's fluency in French and German, bolstered by her intellectual interests and social sensibilities, helped persuade European authors, such as de Beauvoir, Shokolov, and Freud to join Knopf 's list. Her reach extended beyond Europe to Latin America and the Far East, while including American writers such as Fannie Hurst and H.L. Mencken. In recognition of her support and dissemination of French literature, the French government named her a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor (1949) and awarded her the Cross of Officer (1960). An elegant figure dedicated to music, Knopf maintained a busy social life while being actively involved in the affairs of Alfred A. Knopf Publishing. Shortly after the Knopfs' only child, Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., decided to leave his parents' firm and venture out to found his own publishing house (Athaneum Publishers) in 1959, they sold their business to Random House while continuing to run it as a Random House division.

[Anne Lapidus Lerner (2nd ed.)]

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