Thomas Guinzburg, who helped found the Paris Review and ran Viking Press, dies at 84

By Andrew Vanacore, AP
Friday, September 10, 2010

Thomas Guinzburg, former Paris Review editor, dies

NEW YORK — Thomas Guinzburg, who helped found the Paris Review, the celebrated literary journal, and later ran the publisher Viking Press, died Wednesday in New York at the age of 84.

The cause was complications from heart surgery, said his longtime companion, Victoria Anstead.

A Yale graduate and World War II veteran, Guinzburg helped launch the Paris Review in 1953 with its legendary founder George Plimpton, who served for nearly five decades as the magazine’s editor until his death in 2003.

As one of America’s premiere venues for fiction and poetry, the Paris Review has published work by some of literature’s great stars, including Philip Roth, Jack Kerouac and V.S. Naipaul.

Guinzburg served as the magazine’s first managing editor and later as president of its board.

He started at Viking Press, the publisher founded by his father, Harold Guinzburg, in 1954, eventually becoming its president. Pearson, the British conglomerate that owns Penguin Books, bought Viking in 1975 and Guinzburg left the company in 1978.

New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, who served with Guinzburg on the Paris Review’s board, described him as a “very strong source of advice and encouragement” for young writers.

“He was very adept at dealing with people,” Silvers added, “Their worries and their work.”

In his later years, Guinzburg shifted his attention from literature to philanthropy, said Anstead. He helped form a group of donors called the “Dream Team” at the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which grants wishes to adult cancer patients, much like the Make-A-Wish Foundation does for children. And he sponsored the I Have a Dream foundation, created to help cover the cost of college tuition for low-income students.

Besides Anstead, his companion of the last 15 years, he is survived by two children from his first marriage to actress Rita Gam; Kate and Michael Guinzburg; and a daughter, Amanda Guinzburg, from his marriage to Rusty Unger.

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