Title: G.P. Putnam's Sons records, 1891-1937
ID: 01/02/02/POST-1650 MS 0338
Primary Creator: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Extent: 26.0 Volumes
Arrangement: The volumes are grouped by their contents. Each group is arranged chronologically.
Subjects: American literature, Authors and publishers - Great Britain, Copyright - Royalties, Publishers and publishing - Great Britain - History - 19th century, Publishers and publishing - Great Britain - History - 20th century
The G.P. Putnam's Sons records document the publishing firm's activities from 1891 to 1937. The collection includes abstracts of publishing agreements, lists of and detailed readers' reports about received manuscripts, and financial records. The collection's first 11 volumes contain detailed information about contractual agreements made between 1891 and 1937. These identify published works by title and author and include notes about royalties, copyright, translations, printings, and intended markets, most frequently North America, Great Britain, and British colonies.
Much of the rest of the collection relates to submitted manuscripts, the majority of which the firm did not publish. Three volumes list basic information about incoming manuscripts received from senders in London and, to a lesser extent, other locations in the United Kingdom, between 1920 and 1926. These are complemented by a group of readers' reports consisting of individual manuscripts and typescripts bound into 8 volumes. Covering the years 1910 to 1934, these reports contain the reviewers' candid opinions about submitted works, including many with titles in foreign languages such as German or French. Reviewers usually provided a general synopsis, offered editorial comments, and discussed the reviewed manuscript's potential economic viability.
The remaining volumes include 2 account books related to printing and binding costs for works published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, as well as an additional account book with more general records about the firm's gains and losses, among other financial subjects. The final volume contains abstracts of publishing agreements pertaining to works published by other companies, often with information about royalty percentages, film and serialization rights, and other intellectual property agreements.
George Palmer Putnam (1814-1872), a native of Maine who had held several odd jobs in the bookselling and publishing industries, became publisher John Wiley's business partner in the 1830s. Wiley & Putnam first opened a London office in 1838, with the intention of securing the rights to British works for publication in North America and promoting North American literature in Britain. Putnam managed the London office until 1847, when he returned to New York. After dissolving his partnership with Wiley in 1848, Putnam founded his own firm, G.P. Putnam and Company.
Putnam achieved early success, publishing and republishing works by authors such as Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, and Edgar Allen Poe in his first decade as an independent publisher. From 1853 to 1857, he published Putnam's Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Science, and Art, which exclusively featured American authors. He faced financial difficulties during the late 1850s and placed his business on hold during the Civil War, offering his remaining stock to publishers Hurd & Houghton. Putnam and his eldest son, George Haven Putnam, reestablished themselves in the publishing industry by founding the firm G.P. Putnam and Son in 1866.
Joined by his brothers John Bishop Putnam and Irving Putnam, George Haven Putnam changed the firm's name to G.P. Putnam's Sons after their father's death in 1872. By the turn of the century, they had founded the Knickerbocker Press in New Rochelle, New York, and established a successful office in London. Boston native Constant Huntington (1876-1962) ran the London office from 1906 to 1953; in 1930, Huntington, having secured a controlling interest in the London branch, renamed it Putnam and Company Limited. The Bodley Head Group purchased Putnam and Company Limited in 1962, buying the remaining shares held by the New York office. Conway Maritime Press purchased the rights to some of the Putnam backlist in 1986.
The New York branch of G.P. Putnam's Sons merged with Minton, Balch and Company after George Haven Putnam's death in 1930, retaining the Putnam name. Around 1969, Putnam acquired the trade paperback publishers Berkley Books, which became a Putnam imprint. MCA, Inc. purchased Putnam and the Berkley imprint in 1975; both became independent units of MCA. Putnam and Berkley bought the children's book publishers Grosset and Dunlap and PEI Books in 1982. The Penguin Group bought Putnam in 1996, and then merged with Random House in 2014; after the merger, G.P. Putnam's Sons became an imprint of Penguin Random House. Berkley, Grosset and Dunlap, and G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (a former Putnam imprint) are also divisions of Penguin Random House.
Barnes, James J., and Patience P. Barnes. "G.P. Putnam's Sons." In British Literary Publishing Houses, 1820-1880, edited by Patricia J. Anderson and Jonathan Rose, 250-257. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1991.
Dewey, John. The Later Works, 1925-1953. Edited by Jo Ann Boydston. Vol. 10. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University, 2008.
Corry, John. "Briefs on the Arts." New York Times, July 7, 1982.
"G.P. Putnam's Sons."Ã?Â Penguin.com. http://www.penguin.com/meet/publishers/gpputnamssons/
McDowell, Edwin. "The deal for MCA; Fiction Pays for Putnam Publishing Unit." New York Times, November 27, 1990.
Putnam, George Haven. George Palmer Putnam: A Memoir, Together with a Record of the Earlier Years of the Publishing House Founded by Him. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1912.
Zboray, Ronald J. "Putnam, George Palmer." American National Biography Online. http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-02475.html
Authors and publishers - Great Britain
Copyright - Royalties
Publishers and publishing - Great Britain - History - 19th century
Publishers and publishing - Great Britain - History - 20th century
Repository: Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research.
This collection is the physical property of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Intellectual property rights, including copyright, may reside with the materials' creator(s) or their heirs.
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library's reproduction and publication policies are available here. The library welcomes requests for reproductions made from works in our collections, though restrictions may apply to certain materials. Please contact the library with any questions.
Related Materials: The Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has a collection of George Palmer Putnam papers, which are primarily related to his publishing endeavors prior to the U.S. Civil War.
Preferred Citation: G.P. Putnam's Sons records, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Finding Aid Revision History: A previous version of this finding aid was written by RBML staff. Revision by Emily Minehart and Meg Hixon, April-May 2014.
Other Note: Former Shelfmark: MS 655.473 P98r.