Harper (publisher)

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Harper Books
Logo of Harper, with quote from Plato's Republic[a]
Parent companyHarperCollins
FoundedMarch 6, 1817; 207 years ago (1817-03-06) (as J. & J. Harper)
FounderJames Harper
John Harper
Headquarters locationNew York City, U.S.
Owner(s)News Corp

Harper is an American publishing house, the flagship imprint of global publisher, HarperCollins, based in New York City. Founded in New York in 1817 by James Harper and his brother John, the company operated as J. & J. Harper until 1833, when it changed its name to Harper & Brothers, reflecting the inclusion of Joseph and Fletcher Harper. Harper began publishing Harper's Magazine, Harper's Weekly, and other periodicals beginning in the 1850s. From 1962 to 1990, the company was known as Harper & Row after its merger with Row, Peterson & Company. Harper & Row was purchased in 1987 by News Corporation and combined with William Collins, Sons, its United Kingdom counterpart, in 1990 to form HarperCollins, although the Harper name has been used in its place since 2007.


A group portrait of the four Harper brothers by Mathew Brady, c. 1860. Left to right: Fletcher, James, John, and Joseph

J. & J. Harper (1817–1833)

James Harper and his brother John, printers by training, started their book publishing business, J. & J. Harper, in New York City in 1817. Their two brothers, Joseph Wesley and Fletcher, joined them in the mid-1820s.

Harper & Brothers (1833–1962)

The company changed its name to "Harper & Brothers" in 1833. The headquarters of the publishing house was located at 331 Pearl Street, facing Franklin Square in Lower Manhattan near the present-day Manhattan approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Harper & Brothers began publishing Harper's New Monthly Magazine in New York City, in 1850. The brothers also published Harper's Weekly (starting in New York City in June 1857), Harper's Bazar (starting in New York City on November 2, 1867), and Harper's Young People (starting in New York City in 1879).

George B. M. Harvey became president of Harper's on November 16, 1899.[1]

Harper's New Monthly Magazine ultimately became Harper's Magazine, now published by the Harper's Magazine Foundation. Harper's Weekly was absorbed by The Independent (New York; later Boston) in 1916, which merged with The Outlook in 1928. Harper's Bazar was sold to William Randolph Hearst in 1913, became Harper's Bazaar, and is now simply Bazaar, published by the Hearst Corporation.

In 1924, Cass Canfield joined Harper & Brothers and held various executive positions until he died in 1986.[2] In 1925, Eugene F. Saxton joined the company as an editor, and he was responsible for publishing many well-known authors, including Edna St. Vincent Millay and Thornton Wilder.[3] In 1935, Edward Aswell moved to Harper & Brothers as an assistant editor of general books and eventually became editor-in-chief. Aswell persuaded Thomas Wolfe to leave Scribner's, and, after Wolfe's death, edited the posthumous novels, The Web and the Rock, You Can't Go Home Again, and The Hills Beyond.[4]

Harper & Row (1962–1990)

Harper's Illuminated Bible, published in 1846

In 1962, Harper & Brothers merged with Row, Peterson & Company to become Harper & Row. Harper's religion publishing moved to San Francisco and became Harper San Francisco, which is now HarperOne, in 1977. Harper & Row acquired Thomas Y. Crowell Co. and J. B. Lippincott & Co. in the 1970s; Crowell and the trade operations of Lippincott were merged into Harper & Row in 1980.[5] In 1988, Harper & Row purchased the religious publisher Zondervan, including subsidiary Marshall Pickering.[6]

HarperCollins (1990–present)

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, now News Corp, acquired Harper & Row in 1987, and William Collins, Sons in 1990. The names of these two national publishing houses, Harper & Row in the United States and Collins in the United Kingdom, were combined along with the Harper's torch icon and Collins' fountain icon to create HarperCollins.[7] The company has since expanded its international reach with further acquisitions of formerly independent publishers. The Harper imprint began being used in place of HarperCollins in 2007.


After the purchase of Harper & Row by News Corporation, HarperCollins launched a new mass-market paperback line to complement its existing trade paperback Perennial imprint. It was known as Harper Paperbacks from 1990 to 2000, HarperTorch from 2000 to 2006, and Harper from 2007 to the present.

Authors and illustrators (selected)

See also


  1. ^ Ancient Greek: ΛΑΜΠΑΔΙΑ ἜΧΟΝΤΕΣ ΔΙΑΔΏΣΟΥΣΙΝ ἈΛΛΉΛΟΙΣ (LAMPADIA ECHONTES DIADOSOUSIN ALLELOIS; roughly, "Bearing torches, they will pass them to another")


  1. ^ "HARPER & BROS. REORGANIZE.; G.B.M. Harvey, Editor and Proprietor of The North American Review, Elected President of the Firm". The New York Times. November 17, 1899. Archived from the original on August 13, 2023. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  2. ^ "CASS CANFIELD, A TITAN OF PUBLISHING, IS DEAD AT 88". The New York Times. March 28, 1986. Archived from the original on May 28, 2023. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "The New York Times: Sunday June 27, 1943". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  4. ^ "The New York Times: Thursday November 6, 1958". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 16, 2023. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (March 27, 1980). "Harper Absorbs Lippincott & Crowell". Select.nytimes.com. Archived from the original on May 28, 2023. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  6. ^ McDowell, Edwin (July 14, 1988). "Harper & Row to Acquire Religious Books Publisher". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 28, 2023. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Cohen, Roger (June 11, 1990). "Birth of a Global Book Giant". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 9, 2018. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Harper Lee, Author of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' Is to Publish a Second Novel". The New York Times. February 4, 2015. Archived from the original on July 5, 2023. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  9. ^ "Men Who Make Pictures". The Weekly Wisconsin. August 26, 1885. p. 6. Archived from the original on April 14, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. Howard Pyle works almost exclusively for the Harpers.
  10. ^ Charles Dudley Warner at the Encyclopædia Britannica

Further reading

Primary sources

  • Harper & Brothers' List of Publications, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1859, OL 7104166M