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A World of Letters

A World of Letters: Yale University Press, 1908-2008

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    A World of Letters
    Book Description:

    For Yale University Press, which celebrates its hundredth birthday in 2008, the century has been an eventful one, punctuated with no few surprises. The Press has published more than 8,000 volumes through the years, scores of bestsellers and award-winners among them, and these books have come to fruition through the efforts of a host of colorful authors, editors, directors, board members, and others of intellectual and literary renown.

    With an ear always cocked for an interesting tale, one of today's best storytellers presents an anecdote-rich chronicle of the Press's first 100 years. Nicholas Basbanes, whom David McCullough has called "the leading authority of books about books," quickly convinces us that the Press's history, while bookish, is also lively and fascinating. Basbanes explores the saga behind the acquisition of Eugene O'Neill's blockbuster play, the all-time Yale bestsellerLong Day's Journey into Night;the controversy sparked in 1965 by publication ofThe Vinland Map;the origins of the groundbreaking Annals of Communism series, initiated in the wake of the Soviet Union's demise; and many more highlights from Press annals. Basbanes looks at the reasons behind the publisher's remarkable financial success, and he completesA World of Letterswith a glimpse at the new initiatives that will propel the Press into a second exciting century.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14272-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. ONE The Formative Decades
    (pp. 1-70)

    The university press is a curious form of publishing enterprise that has emerged globally by way of two strikingly different sets of circumstances. Certainly the most venerable operations are to be found in the United Kingdom at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, where both institutions maintain publishing enterprises with pedigrees that extend back more than half a millennium, each established around the time that the earliest printing shops were being set up in England by William Caxton and his followers. First to issue a book under its name was Oxford, with the release in 1478 of an obscure commentary on the...

  5. TWO The Middle Years
    (pp. 71-120)

    In 1949, a confederation of scholarly publishers established in common purpose just three years earlier issued the results of a detailed survey of their activities sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. TitledA Report on American University Presses,the study was not occasioned by the observance of any milestone in particular, though it did amount to a reflection on the first seventy years or so of scholarly publishing in North America and offered the thirty-five members of the Association of American University Presses an opportunity to express, in a collegial way, what...

  6. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  7. THREE Enriching the Mix
    (pp. 121-166)

    The relation between an academic press and the institution whose name it bears is unlike any other operation in the life of a university, and the publishing initiative established by George Parmly Day in 1908 on behalf of his alma mater is a compelling case in point. For the first half-century of its existence—a period embracing the full run of the Day era—Yale University Press was a privately operated, not-for-profit entity that worked somewhat in tandem with the administration but still had a great deal of separation from it, a degree of autonomy that had the potential to...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. FOUR A Press in Transition
    (pp. 167-196)

    For those who are stirred by the majesty of books, a walk through the George Parmly Day Room in the headquarters of Yale University Press is an exercise in humility. The elegant building at 302 Temple Street that contains it was designed in 1840 by the renowned architect Ithiel Town to be the residence of a New Haven merchant and was acquired in 1890 by the United Church on the Green for use as a parish hall; a spacious chapel in the rear—a rectangular enclosure with an arching cathedral ceiling—was erected shortly thereafter. When the Press took up...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 197-208)
  11. Centennial Highlights
    (pp. 209-222)