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Blanche Wolf Knopf

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Death Date:


President of Alfred A. Knopf Inc

Blanche Wolf Knopf

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Last update: 10/06/2022

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - Specialist in Scientific Documentation

Blanche Wolf Knopf was born in New York City, USA, on July 30, 1894, the youngest daughter of Bertha Samuels and Julius W. Wolf, a wealthy Austrian jeweler.


She studied at the New York Gardner School and had private tutors in French and German, which gave her a good ability of both languages.


In 1911, during one of the family’s summer seasons on Long Island, she met Alfred A. Knopf, whom she married on April 14, 1916 and had a son, Alfred A. Knopf Jr, two years later.


A year before they were married, she and Alfred Knopf founded a publishing company, Alfred A. Knopf Inc, which became one of the most important and highly regarded in the United States.


Interested in the techniques and arts of printing, Blanche invested in her knowledge of the area, becoming an expert on the subject. She was responsible for creating the famous logo of the publisher represented by a Russian dog of the Borsoi Wolfhound breed.


From 1920 onwards, she took numerous trips to Europe in search of good authors for publication in the United States. The fact of being polyglot facilitated her contact with European authors and editors. In this way, she obtained contracts for the publication of important writers such as Andre Gide, Thomas Mann, Mikhail Sholokhov, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ilva Ehrenberg, in addition to publishing the last book written by Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism). In 1921, she became vice president of Alfred A. Knopf Inc.


In 1936 she visited Germany and was impressed with what she found: most German writers and publishers had left the country because of Nazism.


In 1942 she visited Latin America, where she signed contracts with some writers, including the Brazilians Jorge Amado and Gilberto Freyre, of whom Alfred A. Knopf Inc. became the official American publisher.


By the late 1940s, the company was solidly established as one of the leaders in the American publishing market.


In an absolutely masculine world, Blanche Knopf assumed the presidency of Alfred A. Knopf Inc, in 1957, and played an important role in the book publishing market in the 20th century. She has published and promoted the work of European, Hispanic, African-American, and feminist authors.


For her work promoting European and South American authors, she received from the French government the titles of Knight (1949) and Officer (1960) of the Legion of Honor and from the Brazilian government the National Order of the Southern Cross.


On June 4, 1966, a month before her 72nd birthday, Blanche Knopf died in New York City. She worked as an editor until the last moments of her life. Although she could no longer read manuscripts, she made other people read them and she always had the final word on the books that should be published.


In 1968, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. donated a large collection of books to help rebuild the library collection of the then Joaquim Nabuco Institute for Social Research – IJNPS (now Fundação Joaquim Nabuco), which was hit by a flood of the Capibaribe River. As a tribute to the memory of the American businesswoman, the IJNPS board gave her name to the Library.



Recife, March 27, 2009.


sources consulted

BLANCHE W. Knopf, 1894-1966: biographical Sketch. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 23 mar. 2009.

BRODY, Seymour “Sy”. Blanche Wolf Knopf (1894-1966). Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 4 mar. 2009.

KNOPF, Blanche: Overview, Personal life, Career details, Chronology: Blanche Knopf, Social and economic impact (1894-1966). Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 23 mar. 2009.

how to quote this text

GASPAR, Lúcia. Blanche Wolf Knopf. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2009. Available from: Access on: Month. day, year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2021.)