Harcourt (publisher)

Parent company falonn
Status Defunct
Founded 1919
Founder Alfred Harcourt, Donald Brace
Successor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location San Diego, California
Publication types Books
Number of employees A

Harcourt was a United States publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with Editorial / Sales / Marketing / Rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida. From 1919 to 1982, it was based in New York City.[1]

In 2007, the U.S. Schools Education and Trade Publishing parts of Harcourt Education were sold by Reed Elsevier to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group.[2][3] Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International were acquired by Pearson, the international education and information company, in January 2008.[4] Houghton Mifflin acquired Harcourt in 2007, and assumed the Harcourt name in the Houghton Mifflin name to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As of 2012, all Harcourt books that have been rereleased are now under the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt name, while the Harcourt Children's Books division left the name intact on all of its books under that name as part of HMH.


World Book Company (1905)

The first-created component of what would eventually become Harcourt was the World Book Company (unrelated to the Chicago-based World Book, Inc. publisher of reference works), which opened its first office in Manila in 1905 and published English-language educational materials for schools in the Philippines. The company later moved to New York City, where it became a test publisher. Much of the company's success was based on the work of Arthur S. Otis, who was best known for the intelligence tests he developed for the U.S. Army. Millions of World War I draftees took Otis's tests.

World Book Company became the first publisher of group-administered tests measuring mental ability when it published Otis's Group Intelligence Scale in 1918. Otis became a World Book employee in 1921. By 1960, it had a portfolio of educational tests, including the Stanford Achievement Test (1923), the Metropolitan Achievement Test (1932) and the Otis Mental Ability Test (1936).

Harcourt, Brace & Howe (1919) and Harcourt, Brace & Company

Alfred Harcourt and Donald Brace were friends at Columbia College of Columbia University in New York, from which they both graduated in 1904. The two worked for Henry Holt and Company before founding, in 1919, their own publishing company, Harcourt, Brace & Howe, along with editor Will D. Howe. In 1921, after Howe left the company, they became Harcourt, Brace & Company. They published the works of a number of world-renowned writers, including Walter Lippmann, Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, James Thurber, George Orwell, Valentine Davies and Robert Penn Warren.

Harcourt, Brace & World (1960) and successors

The name Harcourt, Brace & World was introduced in 1931, if not before.[5][6][7] By 1960, Harcourt Brace led the market in high school textbook publishing, but had little presence in the elementary school market. That year, William Jovanovich, who had become president of the company in 1954, took the company public and merged Harcourt Brace & Company with World Book Company to create Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

This strategic move had a long-term impact on the company because World Book was an established elementary textbook publisher and a test publisher.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

In 1970, the company was known as Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ), with William Jovanovich as chairman. That same year, the company acquired The Psychological Corporation. Under Jovanovich's leadership, the company diversified into non-publishing businesses such as insurance and business consulting. It also bought several theme parks—including SeaWorld, which it acquired in 1976 for $46 million. The company divested its theme park division in 1989 for $1.1 billion.

Harcourt also published mass-market paperback books with Pyramid Books, which it bought out in 1974 and renamed Jove Books, and eventually sold to the Putnam Berkley Group in 1979.

Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc.

In 1991, General Cinema Corporation, a diversified company (that operated not only a national chain of movie theaters, but also retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman), acquired Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for more than $1.5 billion. In 1993, General Cinema Corporation renamed itself Harcourt General, and restored the 1921-1960 name "Harcourt Brace & Company" to its publishing division. At the end of the year, it divested itself of its cinema division.

In 1999, Harcourt General also divested its retail division and shortened the publishing division's name to Harcourt, Inc.

Reed Elsevier Group plc

In 2001, the Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier acquired Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc. Harcourt Trade Publishers was a member of the Reed Elsevier Group plc (NYSE: RUK and ENL), a publisher and information provider operating in four global industry sectors—science and medical, legal, education, and business.

Reed Elsevier then comprised the following divisions: Elsevier (science and medical), LexisNexis (legal), Harcourt Education (education), and Reed Business (business).

Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group

On 15 February 2007, Reed Elsevier announced its intention to sell its education arm, Harcourt Education, of which Harcourt Trade Publishers was a part. According to Reed Chief Executive Crispin Davis, "This is essentially a strategic decision that we want to focus more sharply on our three existing businesses ... with better growth rates."[8] On 17 July 2007 Reed Elsevier announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Harcourt U.S. Schools Education business, including Harcourt Trade Publishers, to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group.[9] The merger was completed and the Harcourt name ceased being used separately in 2008. Harcourt Religion was sold to Our Sunday Visitor in 2009. Houghton Mifflin Company acquired Harcourt in 2007, combining the Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt names to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Harcourt Trade Publishers published a wide range of books under a variety of imprints, including Harvest Books, Gulliver Books, Silver Whistle, Red Wagon Books, Harcourt Young Classics, Green Light Readers, Voyager Books/Libros Viajeros, Harcourt Paperbacks, Odyssey Classics, and Magic Carpet Books.

Harcourt's adult books division was one of the most historic of the American literary publishers. Its backlist included Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, and Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Harcourt also made a name for itself as an American publisher of literature in translation by acquiring writers such as Günter Grass and Umberto Eco.

Harcourt Children's Books published books for children of all ages, including interactive books for toddlers, picture books for young children, science fiction and fantasy novels for preteen and teens, as well as historical fiction. The house was the original publisher of such classics as The Little Prince, Mary Poppins, The Borrowers, and Half Magic.

Divisions of Harcourt

Harcourt School Publishers – U.S. elementary (pre-K–6) publisher with particular strength in the four major subject areas of science, reading, math and social studies.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston – U.S. secondary (grades 6–12) publisher with a leading position in literature and language arts, the largest middle and secondary school discipline. Holt also publishes in science, mathematics, social studies, and world languages.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich acquired the educational arm of Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1985 from CBS, and it retained the Holt, Rinehart and Winston name. CBS also sold in 1985 the other arm of the company, the retail publishing arm, to the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group based in Stuttgart, and it operated as a subsidiary publishing under its original name, Henry Holt and Company.

Harcourt Achieve, Professional and Trade – publishers of supplemental and alternative core educational materials for pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools materials for adult education, school libraries and teacher professional development; and adult and children’s trade books. Includes Harcourt Achieve, Greenwood/Heinemann, Global Library, Classroom Connect, Rigby, Steck-Vaugn, Harcourt Religion Publishers and Harcourt Trade Publishers.

Harcourt Assessment - develops tests and resources for educational, psychological, speech, and occupational therapy assessment, as well as human resource selection and hiring (talent assessment). Tests include WISC, WAIS, WPPSI, Raven's Progressive Matrices and Versant.

Harcourt Education International – publisher for the UK primary, secondary and vocational (further education) markets as well as English-medium schools worldwide. Also covers the Australasian primary, secondary and further education sectors. Its imprints include Heinemann, Rigby, Ginn, Payne-Gallway and Raintree.



  1. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/02/11/nyregion/harcourt-brace-moving-from-the-city.html
  2. "Houghton Mifflin Company Completes Acquisition of Harcourt Education, Harcourt Trade and Greenwood-Heinemann Divisions from Reed Elsevier, Creating Preeminent K–12 Educational Publisher". Retrieved January 2009. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. "Reed Elsevier announces sale of Harcourt U.S. Schools Education Business to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group for $4.0 billion". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  4. "Pearson Completes Acquisition of Harcourt Assessment". Assessment & Information group of Pearson. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  5. See copyright at the bottom of this page for James Weldon Johnson's 1931 Book of American Poetry.
  6. The name seems to be in flux in 1931 because the companion volume for the James Weldon Johnson book uses the earlier name: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  7. The name Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc. was still in use on company letterhead in 1957. Brandwein, P. F. (1957, May 24). [Letter to Bentley Glass]. Bentley Glass Papers, American Philosophical Society.
  8. "Reed Elsevier to sell education arm". Reuters. 15 February 2007. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  9. "Reed Elsevier announces sale of Harcourt US Schools Education Business to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group for $4.0 billion". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/9/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.