Harcourt was a United States publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. The company was based in San Diego, California, with an Editorial / Sales / Marketing / Rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida.
World Book Company (1905)
The first-created component of what would eventually become Harcourt was the World Book Company (unrelated to the Chicago-based World Book, Inc. publisher of reference works) opened its first office in Manila in 1905 and published English-language educational materials for schools in the Philippines. The company later moved to New York, where it became a test publisher. Much of the company's success was based on the work of Arthur S. Otis, who was best known for the intelligence tests he developed for the U.S. Army. Millions of World War I draftees took Otis's tests.
Harcourt, Brace & Howe (1919) and Harcourt, Brace & Company
Alfred Harcourt and Donald Brace were friends at Columbia College of Columbia University in New York, from which they both graduated in 1904. The two worked for Henry Holt & Company before founding, in 1919, their own publishing company, Harcourt, Brace & Howe. In 1921, they became Harcourt, Brace & Company. They published the works of a number of world renowned writers, including Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, James Thurber, George Orwell and Robert Penn Warren.
Harcourt, Brace & World (1960) and successors
By 1960, Harcourt Brace led the market in high school textbook publishing, but had little presence in the elementary school market. That year, William Jovanovich, who had become president of the company in 1954, took the company public and merged Harcourt Brace & Company with World Book Company to create Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
In 1970, the company became known as Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ), with William Jovanovich as chairman. That same year, the company acquired The Psychological Corporation. Under Jovanovich's leadership, the company diversified into non-publishing businesses such as insurance and business consulting. It also bought several theme parks—including SeaWorld, which it acquired in 1976 for $46 million. The company divested its theme park division in 1989 for $1.1 billion.
Harcourt also published mass-market paperback books with Pyramid Books, which it bought out in 1974 and renamed Jove Books, and eventually sold to the Putnam Berkley Group in 1979.
Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc.
In 1991, General Cinema Corporation, a diversified company (that operated not only a national chain of movie theaters, but also retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman), acquired Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for more than $1.5 billion. In 1993, General Cinema Corporation renamed itself Harcourt General, and restored the 1921-1960 name "Harcourt Brace & Company" to its publishing division. At the end of the year, it divested itself of its cinema division.
In 1999, Harcourt General also divested its retail division and shortened the publishing division's name to Harcourt, Inc.
Reed Elsevier Group plc
In 2001, the Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier acquired Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc. Harcourt Trade Publishers was a member of the Reed Elsevier Group plc (NYSE: RUK and ENL), a publisher and information provider operating in four global industry sectors—science and medical, legal, education, and business.
Reed Elsevier then comprised the following divisions: Elsevier (science and medical), LexisNexis (legal), Harcourt Education (education), and Reed Business (business).
Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group
On 15 February 2007, Reed Elsevier announced its intention to sell its education arm, Harcourt Education, of which Harcourt Trade Publishers was a part. According to Reed Chief Executive Crispin Davis, "This is essentially a strategic decision that we want to focus more sharply on our three existing businesses ... with better growth rates." On 17 July 2007 Reed Elsevier announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Harcourt U.S. Schools Education business, including Harcourt Trade Publishers, to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group. The merger was completed and the Harcourt name ceased being used separately[vague] in 2008. Harcourt Religion was sold to Our Sunday Visitor in 2009.
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