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Warder Norton

AKA William Warder Norton

Born: 17-Sep-1891
Birthplace: Springfield, OH
Died: 7-Nov-1945
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Exhaustion

Gender: Male
Religion: Unitarian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: W. W. Norton & Company

In the early 1920s, Warder Norton and his wife Mary began publishing transcripts of public lectures at New York's Cooper Union. Originally a hobby (he worked full-time for an importing firm) the transcripts sold so well that in 1923 Norton and his wife co-founded the People's Institute Publishing Company, which began publishing full-size books from beyond the college's seminars, with a successful mix of highbrow intelligence and popular appeal. After his death in 1945, his widow reorganized the company as W. W. Norton & Company, and sold most of her interest in the business to its employees. The firm is now the largest and oldest employee-owned publishing concern, best known for its anthologies (The Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, etc.).

During World War II, Norton coined the phrase "Books are weapons in the war of ideas", which was quoted and made famous in a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also chaired the Council on Books in Wartime, a publishing industry consortium that organized and enforced a fair distribution of paper and binding materials when such supplies were in tight demand due to the war effort. He died of exhaustion shortly after the end of the war.

Wife: Margaret Dows Herter Norton Crena de Iongh ("Polly", violinist/translator, b. 1894, d. 1985)
Daughter: Anne Aston Warder Norton Jones (civil rights activist, b. 1928, d. 1977)

    National Association of Book Publishers President
    W. W. Norton & Company Co-Founder (1923)
    American Legion Commander, Willard Straight Post #842
    Council on Books in Wartime Chairman
    National Association of Social Workers Treasurer, American Assoc. of Social Workers


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