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Horace Brisbin Liveright

LIVERIGHT, HORACE BRISBIN (1886–1933), U.S. publisher and theatrical producer. Liveright was born in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania. He worked briefly in Philadelphia in a broker's office and as a margin clerk, and then turned to selling bonds, which he did with great flair. In 1911 he established a paper-manufacturing company, and in 1917 he joined Charles Boni to form the publishing house Boni … Liveright. They published the Modern Library, which reproduced classics and near-classics, from 1918 to 1925, when it was sold to Bennett *Cerf, their editor. The Boni … Liveright list also included such political radicals as Max Eastman, Michael Gold, and John Reed. When Boni left the firm after a few years, Liveright added many U.S. authors to the list, including such luminaries of American letters as Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Hart Crane, Eugene O'Neil, E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot (Boni … Liveright first published The Waste Land in 1922), Lewis Mumford, and Conrad Aiken, as well as famous European writers. Liveright sold these distinguished authors' works with flamboyant publicity and for about ten years the publishing company was a stupendous success. A leading opponent of pornography laws, he successfully set out to defeat a "clean books" bill before the New York State legislature which would have prohibited many publications (1924). As a theatrical producer and president of Stonelea Players, Liveright produced Hamlet in Modern Clothes (1925); a dramatization (1926) of Dreiser's An American Tragedy which was a big success; and Dracula (1927), among other plays. After the successful bustle of the 1920s, Liveright, who was maneuvered out of the publishing firm in 1930, spent his last three years in penury and isolation. Noel Coward's The Scoundrel, turned into a movie by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur in 1935, was partly based on Liveright's life and character.


W. Gilmer, Horace Liveright, Publisher of the Twenties (1970); W.D. Frank, Time Exposures (1926), 111–7.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.