Alfred A. Knopf Jr. dies at 90; influential publisher

Associated Press

Alfred A. Knopf Jr., son of publishing legends and an influential publisher in his own right, died Saturday in New York of medical complications from a fall in mid-January, according to his wife, Alice. He was 90.

Knopf, known as Pat, was the only child of Alfred Knopf and Blanche Wolf Knopf, giants in the field of publishing. He left his parents’ company, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., in 1959 to co-found Atheneum Publishers along with Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn.

The roster of writers Atheneum published included Theodore H. White, Daniel Boorstin, Reynolds Price, James Merrill and Edward Albee.

Among Atheneum’s releases were White’s “The Making of the President, 1960,” Frederic Morton’s “The Rothschilds: A Family Portrait” and Albee’s play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” The company published one of Mario Puzo’s books but declined to publish “The Godfather,” which Haydn thought was “junk,” Knopf said some years ago.

In later years, the company merged with Charles Scribner’s Sons to form Scribner Book Companies. That company was acquired by Macmillan Inc., and Knopf became a senior vice president.

Knopf retired from publishing in 1988.

Born in White Plains, N.Y., on June 17, 1918, Knopf graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and Union College. He rose to the rank of captain in the Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the 446th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force.

He joined his parents’ firm and worked mainly in sales and marketing after his discharge.

He married his wife, Alice, in 1952. She survives him along with three children.