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Kurt Wolff (3 March 1887 – 21 October 1963) was a German publisher, editor, writer and journalist.

Wolff was born in Bonn, Rhenish Prussia; his mother came from a Jewish-German family.[1] Together with Ernst Rowohlt he began to work in publishing in Leipzig in 1908. He was the first to promote and publish the authors Franz Kafka and Franz Werfel, although he made a mistake in refusing to publish the works of Axel Munthe.[according to whom?] Wolff's close contact to other writers in Prague and the support for unknown, but talented writers, helped him develop Kafka's friends, Max Brod and Felix Weltsch who were more well known in Berlin and Germany. In 1929, Wolff published the photography book Face of our Time by August Sander.

In 1941 Wolff and his second wife, Helen, left Germany and emigrated to Paris, London, Montagnola, St. Tropez, Nice, and finally with the assistance of Varian Fry, New York City.[2] Later in Munich, Florence, and the United States, Wolff tried to develop different publishing houses. In the U.S., he and Helen founded Pantheon Books in 1942, which became famous.[3][4] They later ran the Helen and Kurt Wolff Books imprint at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.[5] He died in Marbach.

The Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize is named in honor of him and his wife. His son Christian Wolff is a renowned avant-garde musician.

Literary archivesEdit

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University holds the Kurt Wolff Archive, 1907–38. The collection contains about 4,100 letters and manuscripts from the files of the Kurt Wolff Verlag from the years 1910–30. A portion of the Kurt Wolff Archive is currently available online.[6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Detjen, Marion. "Kurt and Helen Wolff." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 5, edited by R. Daniel Wadhwani. German Historical Institute. Last modified June 19, 2012.
  3. ^ McGuire, William. Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past, Princeton University Press (1989), p 273.
  4. ^ [1] Goethe-Institut USA, about Helen and Kurt Wolff, retrieved July 31, 2009
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (1994-03-30). "Helen Wolff, a Publisher, Is Dead at 88". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  6. ^ Kurt Wolff Archive, 1907-1938. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Retrieved on 2009-07-08.

External linksEdit