Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Jovanovich, William.
William Jovanovich Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1815-2006 (mostly 1950-1996)
61 boxes and 32.8 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-000009 to B-000051, P-000001 to P-000003
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 47-61


William Jovanovich (1920-2001) was an American publisher, author, and businessman, who led the publishing firm Harcourt Brace Jovanovich from 1954 to 1991, as president and later as chief executive officer. The collection consists of Jovanovich's author and publisher files, including an extensive file on Charles A. Lindbergh, along with correspondence, writings, personal and family papers, memorabilia, and other files documenting his career as a major American publisher in the 20th century, his creative pursuits in fiction and nonfiction, and his interest in Yugoslav literature and textbook publishing.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of professional and personal files of the American publisher and author William Jovanovich (1920-2001), largely spanning his time as president and chief executive officer of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich from 1954 through 1991. The majority of materials consist of author and publisher files, including correspondence with Svetlana Alliluyeva, Hannah Arendt, Matija Bećković, Sylvia Beach, Arthur C. Clarke, Edward Dahlberg, Milovan Djilas, e. e. cummings, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Hiram Haydn, Helen Hayes, Irving Howe, Jerzy Kosiński, Anita Loos, Marshall McLuhan, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Lewis Mumford, V. S. Pritchett, Erich Maria Remarque, Richard Rovere, Carl Sandburg, William Saroyan, Vasilēs Vasilikos, Andy Warhol, Leonard Woolf, and other notable authors, as well as publishers including Helen Wolff and Cass Canfield. A significant author file on Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh includes correspondence with and regarding the Lindberghs, corrected typescripts and proofs, research materials and writings by potential Lindbergh biographers, photographs, and other materials related to their books with the publisher. Much of the Lindbergh materials regard Charles Lindbergh's posthumously published Autobiography of Values, which Jovanovich personally edited. Jovanovich's working files, manuscripts, and proofs for his own novels and nonfiction works are also present, as are personal and professional correspondence, family memorabilia, and files pertaining to his speeches, travels, interviews, publishing industry activities, honorary degrees and awards, and personal interests, particularly in Yugoslav authors.


The papers are arranged into the following seven series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Jovanovich, William.

William Jovanovich (1920-2001) was an American publisher, author, and businessman, who served from 1954 to 1991 as the president of the publishing firm Harcourt Brace & Company. The firm was renamed Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1970, when Jovanovich became the chief executive officer. Born in a coal-mining camp in Louisville, Colorado, to a Polish mother and a Montenegrin father, Jovanovich learned English in elementary school, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, and studied English and American literature at Harvard University. His graduate studies were interrupted by World War II, when he left school to serve as an officer in the U. S. Navy. After the war, Jovanovich returned briefly to his studies at Columbia University where he worked on a dissertation on Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1943, he married Martha Evelyn Davis, with whom he went on to have three children. Due to financial hardship, Jovanovich left Columbia in 1947 to join Harcourt Brace & Company as a traveling college textbook salesman. He was promoted to head of Harcourt's school division in 1953 and became president of the company the following year at age 34.

Jovanovich was an innovative figure in the publishing industry. He popularized the use of colorful illustrations in textbooks, and he is credited with starting the first imprint, now a common feature of most major publishing houses. He persuaded Helen and Kurt Wolff of Pantheon Books to join Harcourt by allowing them to publish books under their own trade name. He made unconventional business decisions for a publisher, such as relocating the publisher's headquarters from Manhattan to Orlando and purchasing Sea World marine parks. Under his direction, Harcourt became one of the largest textbook publishers, while continuing to publish a variety of internationally known authors, including Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt, Italo Calvino, Alice Walker, Octavio Paz, Umberto Eco, and Charles and Anne Morrow Lindburgh. Jovanovich maintained close working relationships with certain authors, including Mary McCarthy and Charles A. Lindbergh, whose posthumous autobiography Jovanovich edited. Over the course of Jovanovich's term as chairman, Harcourt transformed from a small publishing house into a diversified company with annual sales of over a billion dollars. In the late 1980s, the company took on massive debt in a successful but ultimately damaging strategy to thwart a hostile takeover by the British publisher Robert Maxwell, leading to Jovanovich's resignation as president in 1990.

Jovanovich also wrote and published a number of his own books throughout his lifetime, including the essay collection Now, Barabbas (1964), the novel The World's Last Night (1990), the memoir The Temper of the West (2003), and several others. He also maintained a lifelong dedication to promoting the works of Yugoslav authors, the value of education, and the cause of Serbian nationalism. He died in San Diego, California, in 2001 at age 81.

Collection History


Gift of Alexandra O. Fellowes, as Trustee of the Survivor's Trust created under the Jovanovich Family Trust dated March 20, 1990, as amended, in 2015 (2015-86). The author file for William Saroyan, which had been separated from the papers before they were donated to Princeton, was purchased in 2015 (2015-99).


No materials were separated during 2015 processing. One linear foot of manuscript and typescript drafts of Charles Augustus Lindbergh's "Autobiography of Values" was deacessioned and transferred to Yale University Library.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in June-August 2015, with assistance from Kristine Gift (GS) and Noga Zaborowski '18. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in August 2015.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research, with the exception of audiovisual media that have not been digitized.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

William Jovanovich Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-000009 to B-000051, P-000001 to P-000003
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 47-61

Find More

Related Materials

Several of Jovanovich's individual author files reside at other institutions, including:

Vassar College: William Jovanovich Papers, containing a file on Mary McCarthy

University of Pennsylvania: Letters, 1922-1981, to Lewis Mumford; Correspondence, 1934-1979, from Lewis Mumford

New York Public Library: Georges Simenon correspondence with William Jovanovich 1963-1983; Eudora Welty correspondence with William Jovanovich 1964-1989

Researchers interested in the Lindberghs may want to consult the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Papers (C0697), also at Princeton. Yale University holds the Charles Augustus Lindbergh Papers, which include the original manuscripts for Autobiography of Values, as well as the Helen and Kurt Wolff Papers.

Subject Terms:
American literature -- 20th century.
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Authors, Yugoslav -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Editors -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Publishers and publishing -- United States -- 20th century.
Publishing industry -- United States -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
Audiocassettes -- 20th century.
Correspondence -- 20th century
Drafts (documents) -- 20th century.
Interviews -- 20th century.
photographs -- 20th century.
Harcourt Brace & Company
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Arendt, Hannah, 1906-1975.
Clarke, Arthur C. (Arthur Charles), 1917-2008.
Cozzens, James Gould, 1903-1978
Cummings, E.E. Edward Estlin 1894-1962
Dahlberg, Edward, 1900-1977
Eliot, T.S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965
Forster, E.M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970
Frye, Northrop
Jovanovich, William.
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow, 1906-2001.
Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974
McCarthy, Mary, 1912-1989.
McLuhan, Marshall, 1911-1980
Pritchett, V. S. (Victor Sawdon), 1900-1997
Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967.
Saroyan, William, 1908-1981.
Welty, Eudora, 1909-2001.
Wolff, Helen, 1906-1994
Woolf, Leonard, 1880-1969