Little, Brown and Company

Little, Brown and Company is an American publishing company founded in 1837 by Charles Coffin Little and James Brown in Boston. For close to two centuries it has published fiction and nonfiction by American authors. Early lists featured Emily Dickinson's poetry and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Since 2006 Little, Brown and Company is a division of the Hachette Book Group.[1]

Little, Brown and Company
Parent companyHachette Book Group USA
Founded1837 (1837)
FounderCharles Coffin Little
James Brown
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationBoston, Massachusetts
ImprintsBack Bay Books; Mulholland Books; Jimmy Patterson Books; Little, Brown Spark; Voracious

19th century

Little, Brown and Company had its roots in the book selling trade. It was founded in 1837 in Boston by Charles Little and James Brown.[1][2] They formed the partnership "for the purpose of Publishing, Importing, and Selling Books".[1] It can trace its roots before that to 1784 to a bookshop owned by Ebenezer Battelle on Marlborough Street.[1] They published works of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and they were specialized in legal publishing and importing titles.[3] For many years, it was the most extensive law publisher in the United States, and also the largest importer of standard English law and miscellaneous works, introducing American buyers to the Encyclopædia Britannica,[3] the dictionaries of William Smith, and many other standard works.[4] In the early years Little and Brown published the Works of Daniel Webster, George Bancroft's History of the United States,[3] William H. Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella, Jones Very's first book of poetry (edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson), Letters of John Adams and works by James Russell Lowell and Francis Parkman. Little, Brown and Company was the American publisher for Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.[1][3]

The firm was the original publisher of United States Statutes at Large beginning in 1845, under authority granted by a joint resolution of Congress. In 1874, Congress transferred the authority to publish the Statutes at Large to the Government Printing Office, which has been responsible for producing the set since that time.[5] 1 U.S.C. § 113 still recognizes their edition of the laws and treaties of the United States are competent evidence of the several public and private Acts of Congress, treaties, and international agreements other than treaties of the United States.

In 1853, Little, Brown began publishing the works of British poets from Chaucer to Wordsworth. Ninety-six volumes were published in the series in five years.[6]

In 1859, John Bartlett became a partner in the firm. He held the rights to his Familiar Quotations, and Little, Brown published the 15th edition of the work in 1980, 125 years after its first publication. John Murray Brown, James Brown's son, took over when Augustus Flagg retired in 1884. In the 1890s, Little, Brown expanded into general publishing, including fiction. In 1896, it published Quo Vadis. In 1898, Little, Brown purchased a list of titles from the Roberts Brothers firm.[6] 19th century employees included Charles Carroll Soule.[7]

20th century

A Little, Brown and Co. insignia used in 1906.

John Murray Brown died in 1908 and James W. McIntyre became managing partner. When McIntyre died in 1913, Little, Brown incorporated. In 1925, Little, Brown entered into an agreement to publish all Atlantic Monthly books. This arrangement lasted until 1985. During this time the joint Atlantic Monthly Press/Little Brown imprint published All Quiet on the Western Front, Herge's The Adventures of Tintin, James Truslow Adams's The Adams Family, Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's Mutiny on the Bounty and its sequels, James Hilton's Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Walter D. Edmonds's Drums Along the Mohawk, William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine, and J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.[6]

Salinger later terminated his contract with the publishing house sometime in the 1970s, though his novel was still published by Little, Brown.

Other prominent figures published by Little, Brown in the 20th and early 21st centuries have included Nagaru Tanigawa, Donald Barthelme, Louisa M. Alcott, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Bernie Brillstein, Thornton Burgess, Hortense Calisher, Bruce Catton, A. J. Cronin, Peter De Vries, J. Frank Dobie, C. S. Forester, John Fowles, Malcolm Gladwell, Pete Hamill, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Lillian Hellman, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Henry Kissinger, Elizabeth Kostova, Norman Mailer, William Manchester, Nelson Mandela, John P. Marquand, Masters and Johnson, Stephenie Meyer, Rick Moody, Ogden Nash, Edwin O'Connor, Erich Maria Remarque, Alice Sebold, David Sedaris, George Stephanopoulos, Gwyn Thomas, Gore Vidal, David Foster Wallace, Evelyn Waugh, P. G. Wodehouse, James Patterson and Herman Wouk. Little, Brown also published the photography of Ansel Adams.[6]

The company was purchased by Time Inc. in 1968,.[6] Little, Brown acquired the medical publisher College Hill Press in 1986.[8] Little, Brown was made part of the Time Warner Book Group when Time merged with Warner Communications to form Time Warner in 1989. All editing staff moved from Boston to Time Warner Book Group offices in New York City by 2001.[9]

In 2001, Michael Pietsch became Publisher of Little, Brown.

Little, Brown expanded into the UK in 1992 when TWBG bought MacDonald & Co from Maxwell Communications, taking on its Abacus (upmarket paperback) and Orbit (science fiction) lists, and authors including Iain Banks. Feminist publisher Virago Press followed in 1996. Also in 1996, Wolters Kluwer acquired Little, Brown's legal and medical publishing division and incorporated it into its Aspen and Lippincott-Raven imprints.[10]

21st century

In 2006, the Time Warner Book Group was sold to French publisher Hachette Livre. Following this, the Little, Brown imprint is used by Hachette Livre's U.S. publishing company, Hachette Book Group USA.

In 2011, Little, Brown launched an imprint devoted to suspense publishing: Mulholland Books.[11] In February 2013, Reagan Arthur was selected to be publisher of Little, Brown, while closing her five-year-old imprint, Reagan Arthur Books.[12]

In October 2017, Little, Brown started an unnamed imprint devoted to health, lifestyle, psychology, and science with the appointment of Tracy Behar as the imprint's vice president, publisher, and editor-in-chief.[13] The imprint Little, Brown Spark launched in fall 2018.[14]

In February 2020, Hachette Book Group acquired 1,000 titles for young readers from Disney Book Group for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.[15]

See also


  1. "Little, - 175th Anniversary". Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  2. Hudson, Robert Vernon (January 1, 1987). Mass Media: A Chronological Encyclopedia of Television, Radio, Motion Pictures, Magazines, Newspapers, and Books in the United States. Garland Publishing, Incorporated. ISBN 9780824086954.
  3. Lynde, John H. (October 28, 1969). "Editorial Correspondence". Whig & Courier.
  4. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1892). "Little, Charles Coffin" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  5. "Statutes at Large". Library of Congress. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  6. Oliver 1986
  7. "Obituary", Publishers Weekly, January 11, 1913
  8. "Paid Notice: Deaths
    SINGH, DR"
    . Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  9. Mehegan, David (January 26, 2002). "LITTLE, BROWN SHRINKING AGAIN: [THIRD Edition]". Boston Globe; Boston, Mass. Boston, Mass., United States, Boston, Mass. pp. –1. ISSN 0743-1791. ProQuest 405447754.
  10. CARVAJAL, DOREEN (1996). "Dutch Publisher Buying Division of Little, Brown: Wolters Kluwer will gain a key source of professional books". The New York Times. New York, N.Y., United States. pp. –3. ISSN 0362-4331. ProQuest 109602203. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  11. "Little, Brown and Company Announces New Suspense Imprint's Name and Launch List". Book Business. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  12. "News Briefs: Week of February 11, 2013". Publishers Weekly. February 8, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  13. Maher, John (October 30, 2017). "Tracy Behar Named Publisher, Editor-in-Chief of New Little, Brown Imprint". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  14. "Tracy Behar Names New Imprint, Little, Brown Spark" (Press release). Little, Brown. March 15, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2020 via
  15. Milliot, Jim (February 6, 2020). "HBG Buys More Than 1,000 Disney Book Group Titles". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 20, 2020.

Further reading

  • Little, Brown and Company, One Hundred Years of Publishing, 1837-1937. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.
  • Oliver, Bill (1986), "Little, Brown and Company", in Peter Dzwonkonski (ed.), Dictionary of Literary Biography - Volume Forty-nine - American Literary Publishing Houses, 1638–1899 Part 1: A–M. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company.
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