Atheneum Books

Atheneum Books was a New York City publishing house established in 1959 by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn. Simon & Schuster has owned Atheneum properties since its acquisition of Macmillan in 1994 and it created Atheneum Books for Young Readers as an imprint for children's books in the 2000s.

Atheneum Books
Parent companySimon & Schuster
FounderAlfred A. Knopf, Jr., Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationNew York City
Publication typesBooks
Fiction genresChildren's literature
ImprintsCaitlyn Dlouhy Books


Alfred A. Knopf, Jr. left his family publishing house Alfred A. Knopf and created Atheneum Books in 1959 with Simon Michael Bessie (Harpers) and Hiram Haydn (Random House).[1][lower-alpha 1] It became the publisher of Pulitzer Prize winners Edward Albee, Charles Johnson, James Merrill, Nikki Giovanni, Mona Van Duyn and Theodore H. White. It also published Ernest Gaines' first book Catherine Carmier (1964). Knopf personally recruited editor Jean E. Karl to establish a Children's Book Department in 1961.[2][3] Atheneum acquired the reprint house Russell & Russell in 1965.[4]

Atheneum merged with Charles Scribner's Sons to become The Scribner Book Company in 1978. The acquisition included Rawson Associates. Scribner was acquired by Macmillan in 1984. Macmillan was purchased by Simon & Schuster in 1994.[5] After the merger, the Atheneum adult list was merged into Scribner and the Scribner children's line was merged into Atheneum.[6][7]

In the 2000s, the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum Books for Young Readers has published the popular May Bird fantasy series for young adults, inaugurated by May Bird and the Ever After (2005), and the Olivia series of picture books featuring Olivia the pig (from 2000). The Higher Power of Lucky won the 2007 Newbery Medal. In a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery as one of its Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children.[8]


  1. For a detailed description of how Atheneum Publishers came into existence, see Hiram Haydn's memoir: Words & Faces: an intimate chronicle of book and magazine publishing (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), pp. 105–40.


  1. Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (February 16, 2009). "Alfred A. Knopf Jr., Influential Publisher, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-02-22. Alfred A. Knopf Jr., who left the noted publishing house run by his parents to become one of the founders of Atheneum Publishers in 1959, died on Saturday. He was 90, the last of the surviving founders, and lived in New York City.
  2. Jalowitz, Alan (Summer 2006). "Karl, Jean (Edna)" Archived 2012-05-07 at the Wayback Machine. Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Penn State University. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
  3. Palmquist, Vicki (July 29 [no year]). "Birthday Bios: Jean E. Karl" Archived 2012-05-15 at the Wayback Machine. Children's literature network. (c) 2002–2008. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
  4. Publishers Weekly, Volume 201, 1972.
  5. "Description [Scribner history]". Simon & Schuster. 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-02-22. In 1978 Scribner acquired Atheneum, publishers of Edward Albee, Charles Johnson, and Theodore H. White. The Atheneum acquisition also brought with it the Rawson Associates imprint. And in 1984, the Scribner Book Companies, which by then included a great children's division and a distinguished reference division, merged with Macmillan.
  6. Lyall, Sarah (1994-01-24). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Paramount Publishing to Cut Jobs and Books". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  7. Dunleavey, M. P. (1994-06-13). "Anatomy of a merger". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  8. National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 2012-08-19.
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