NEW YORK — Robert Giroux, a distinguished giant of 20th century publishing who guided and supported dozens of great writers including T.S. Eliot, Jack Kerouac, Bernard Malamud and Susan Sontag, died in his sleep early Friday morning. He was 94.
Giroux, who helped create one of the most notable publishing houses — Farrar, Straus &Giroux — had been in failing health for a couple of months and died at an assisted living facility in Tinton Falls, N.J., Jeff Seroy, a Farrar, Straus spokesman, said.
Known throughout the industry for his taste and discretion, he began in 1940 as an editor at Harcourt, Brace &Company and had so great a reputation that when he left in 1955 to join what was then Farrar, Straus, more than a dozen writers joined him, including Flannery O’Connor, Malamud and Eliot, a close friend.
“(W)hen I faced a difficult decision about my own career, his support and encouragement saw me through a crisis,” Giroux later said of the poet.
Giroux joined Farrar as editor in chief and was made a full partner in 1964, his reserved demeanor in contrast with the company’s boisterous founder and president, Roger Straus. Straus and Giroux thrived together even as they endlessly complained about each other, with Straus regarding Giroux as a snob, and Giroux looking upon Straus as more a businessman than a man of letters.
During Giroux’s 60-year career, some of the world’s most celebrated writers published works for FSG, including Nobel Prize winners Isaac Bashevis Singer, Derek Walcott, Nadine Gordimer and Seamus Heaney. Authors were known to turn down more money from competitors for the privilege of being signed on by Farrar, Straus.