Rare Book & Manuscript Library

André Schiffrin papers, 1944-2014

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1748
Bib ID 11359744 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Schiffrin, André
Title André Schiffrin papers, 1944-2014
Physical Description 10.5 linear feet (19 document boxes and 2 flat boxes)
Language(s) The material is primarily in English, with some correspondence in French. In addition to English, the press clippings are in the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Spanish.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in three series and several subseries.



The collection consists of a wide range of material from early Pantheon papers (1944-1963) pertaining to the presence of Jacques Schiffrin and Helen and Kurt Wolff, including correspondence, business files, manuscripts and proofs, book covers, and media clippings. Later papers include correspondence and business files from Andre Schiffrin's time at Pantheon, followed by press clippings and correspondence regarding his forced removal, his launch of New Press, books he published, and finally personal papers that include notebooks, travel diaries and journals, along with his articles in various publications and miscellaneous press that he'd collected for personal interest.

With the exception of the majority of the correspondence, the collection was not organized; thus the organization evident in this collection has been imposed by the processor of the collection.

  • Series I.: Correspondence Files, 1944-2010

    Pantheon correspondence, i.e. 1944-1962, including letters of Kurt and Hellen Wolff (original owners of Pantheon before they sold it to Random House) and Jacques Schiffrin, followed by André Schiffrin's correspondence at Pantheon until 1990 and shortly after his removal, including in-house correspondence as well as letters to authors, editors, colleagues abroad and agents, among others. These also include letters written by editors and authors to him in solidarity with his dismissal from Pantheon and a number of angry letters addressed to Pantheon, as well as letters of a personal nature between him and his aunt and uncle (Bella and Serge). Later correspondence in this section consists of letters (and later, e-mails) addressed to Schiffrin after his removal from Pantheon in 1990.

  • Series II. Business and Subject Files, 1946-2011

  • Series III. Personal and Biographical Files, 1956-2014, undated

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Andre Schiffrin Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material-- at Columbia

New Press Records, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Pantheon Books Records, 1944-1968, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.


No additional material is expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Atefeh Akbari (GSAS 2018), 2015.

2018 Addition (1 Folder) processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi, 2018.

Finding aid written by Atefeh Akbari (GSAS 2018), August 2015.

Revision Description

2015-08-05 File created.

2015-08-06 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2016-10-27 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2018-05-08 XML document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Book jackets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
typescripts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Authors and publishers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bjurström, Carl Gustaf, 1919- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Book editors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New Press Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pantheon Books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pantheon Books -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing -- Europe Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Random House (Firm) -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schiffrin, André Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schiffrin, Jacques Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schiffrin, Jacques Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wolff, Helen, 1906-1994 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wolff, Kurt, 1887-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

André Schiffrin, a dominant presence and pioneer publisher in the American publishing world from the 1960s onward, was born on June 14, 1935 to a French mother and Russian emigre father in Paris. Before they fled to New York (aided by his father's close friend Andre Gide) as a result of the increasing, flagrant anti-Semitism in France in 1941, his father, Jacques Schiffrin, founded La Bibliotheque de la Pleiade in Paris, and later in New York, he joined Pantheon books in 1944, founded by his German exiled friend, Kurt Wolff, where he would continue to publish French authors and design all the books, until his death in 1950.

Schiffrin was admitted to Yale in 1953 where he majored in history and graduated with honors. During his time at Yale, his anti-Communist socialism led him and some friends to found the Student League for Industrial Democracy which would later become the Students for a Democratic Society. During his last year at Yale, he was awarded one of two Clare Fellowships to Cambridge University. This scholarship allowed him to enroll in a two-year program that was specifically intended for visiting American students who could experience undergraduate studies in Britain but at a higher intensity than their British counterparts, and upon completion they would receive the equivalent of an American Master of Arts degree. He stayed there for two years from 1957 to 1959. At Cambridge, he was offered the position of editor at Granta magazine, the leading University publication, thus becoming the first American to hold this position. He also met his future wife there, Maria Elena de la Iglesia (known as Leina), whom he married in 1961 and would have two daughters with, Anya and Natalia. In the summer of 1958, he took a summer job at New American Library in New York, where he would return to work after graduating from Cambridge in 1959. In fall 1959 he pursued doctoral work at Columbia University but he did not earn a degree. During this time he also wrote a series of articles for Socialist Commentary.

In 1962, a year after Pantheon and Knopf had been bought by Random House, Schiffrin was invited to join Pantheon as a junior editor. He later became editor-in-chief and finally managing director, and remained with the publishing house until 1990. At Pantheon, he was responsible for familiarizing American readers with the works of Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, Gunter Grass, Jean Paul Sartre, Julio Cortazar, Anita Brookner, Noam Chomsky, E.P. Thompson, Edward Said, and Art Spiegelman, among countless others. His staunch advocacy of intellectual freedom and his emphasis on publishing significant and serious books that wouldn't result in high profits for the publishing house coupled with his leftist tendencies lead to his dismissal in 1990 by Alberto Vitale, the new CEO at Pantheon, after he refused to downsize or severely cut down the number of books he would publish every year. Several top editors and writers left Pantheon with Schiffrin and demonstrations were held in support of his actions. He raised sufficient funds to start the New Press, an independent, not-for-profit publishing house, and its first book was Stud Terkel's Race, published in spring of 1992. Schiffrin remained director at the New Press until 2003, when he decided to spend a year in Paris with his wife. Afterwards and until his death, they split their time between their apartments in New York and Paris, and he continued to work in the capacity of editor-at-large and founding director at the New Press. He published two books in English about the publishing industry: The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read (Verso, 2000) and Words and Money (Verso, 2010), both of which have been translated into several languages. He also published a memoir in 2007 titled A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York. He frequently contributed to The Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications. He was the second person to receive the Grisan Cavour Bullati Prize in Milan that is awarded to a publisher each year for their life's work, and in 2011, he received the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government. He died of pancreatic cancer in Paris on December 1, 2013.