Three of the four men who wrote the two-page obituary of George Palmer Putnam that ran in the last issue of our first year of publication still have their names attached to well-known publishing companies: Henry Holt, Alfred Houghton, and John Wiley. Putnam died of a stroke while working in his bookstore on Dec. 20, 1872.

Putnam’s life encapsulates the early history of American publishing. After teaming up with Wiley, he moved to London, where he wrote books for the English market and exported books by English authors to the U.S. Returning to America, he published books and
one of the first literary magazines, Putnam’s Magazine (curiously nicknamed Maga). After a three-year run as a tax collector, Putnam returned to publishing with his eldest son, G. Harris, forming G.P. Putnam & Sons (a second son would later join the press). One of its first authors was Washington Irving.

In addition to his love of literature, Putnam was also an art lover and one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Few men have included so much worth the telling,” the obit’s authors wrote.

From the Archive: December 26, 1872 by Publishers Weekly on Scribd