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Our Past ~ Our Present ~ Our Future

In December of 2007 Houghton Mifflin Company acquired Reed Education making the combined company the largest K-12 publisher in the world. At the same time, it brought together two remarkable trade publishing traditions which now make up the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade and Reference Publishing Group.

Houghton Mifflin Company traces its history to 1832, when William Ticknor purchased The Old Corner Bookstore in Boston and, together with his partner, James Fields, established a publishing company. By the mid-nineteenth century, Ticknor and Fields had assembled a list of authors that included some of the most renowned names in American literature: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and Henry David Thoreau. 

Ticknor and Fields formed a close association with The Riverside Press, a Boston printing company founded by Henry Houghton in 1852. George Mifflin became employed there as an eager young Harvard graduate. After working in nearly every position at the press, he became Houghton’s partner in 1872.

In 1880, Ticknor and Fields merged with The Riverside Press to form Houghton, Mifflin and Company. In addition to publishing the esteemed Ticknor and Fields trade authors, the new company established an educational department in 1882.

Over the years, Houghton Mifflin launched many notable careers, including those of Willa Cather, Carson McCullers, Philip Roth, Paul Theroux, Robert Stone, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Jonathan Safran Foer. The company also numbers Tim O’Brien, Edna O’Brien, Cynthia Ozick, and Ward Just among its fine authors of fiction. Houghton Mifflin’s nonfiction list features seminal works by Winston Churchill, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Eric Schlosser, James Carroll, and Richard Dawkins. The house is also known for its poets, among them the former poet laureate Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell, Grace Schulman, Alan Shapiro, and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, Natasha Trethewey. Recent highlights include Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think, David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy, Jonah Lehrer’s Proust Was cartoon porn pictures a Neuroscientist, Jonathan Miles’s Dear American Airlines, Paul Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Philip Roth’s Indignation, and Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time, which won the National Book Award. Houghton publishes the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Best American Series®, The Peterson Field Guides®, the Gourmet Cookbook and other culinary classics, and acclaimed books in the fields of science, sports, history, and current affairs.


Harcourt Trade Publishers was established when Alfred Harcourt and Donald Brace left Henry Holt and Company in 1919 to form a new publishing enterprise. Early Harcourt lists featured Sinclair Lewis, Carl Sandburg, and John Maynard Keynes, joined over the decades by Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, C. S. Lewis, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Thomas Merton, Robert Lowell, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Penn Warren. In 1961, Helen and Kurt Wolff, cofounders of Pantheon Books, became Harcourt’s copublishers and brought with them their eponymous list, which included the luminaries Günter Grass, Hannah Arendt, and Konrad Lorenz. A mainstay of literature in translation, Harcourt has published celebrated international authors such as Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, and Amos Oz, as well as the Nobel Prize winners Octavio Paz, José Saramago, and A. B. Yehoshua. Recent highlights include fiction by Margaret Drabble, Michel Faber, Ursula K. Le Guin, Yann Martel, Audrey Niffenegger, Ivan Doig, and Mohsin Hamid, and nonfiction by Temple Grandin, Rory Stewart, Ted Kerasote, and the National Book Award finalist Joan Wickersham. Works by Wisława Szymborska, Richard Wilbur, Edward Hirsch, and the recent poet laureate Charles Simic attest to the house’s long-standing commitment to poetry. 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt launches its first combined trade list in Winter 2009. Under the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint, the adult group will publish approximately eighty new hardcover books each year, and under the Mariner Books imprint (incorporating the Harvest backlist), approximately ninety trade paperbacks, including paperback originals and books acquired from other publishers. The reference division continues to publish the American Heritage® dictionaries and other authoritative and popular books about language, for adults and children. In addition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt distributes books for Beacon Press, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Larousse and Chambers.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group encompasses three award-winning imprints as well as the Graphia and Sandpaper paperback lines. Houghton Mifflin introduced its list of books for young readers in 1937. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children publishes luminaries such as H. A. and Margret Rey, Virginia Lee Burton, Bill Peet, Holling C. Holling, Scott O’Dell, and James Marshall; its contemporary authors and illustrators include Steve Jenkins, D. B. Johnson, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Nelson, Eric Schlosser, Brian Lies, Chris Van Allsburg, Allen Say, Lois Lowry, and David Macaulay. Houghton Mifflin is also home to some of the best-loved children’s book characters: Curious George, Lyle the Crocodile, George and Martha, Martha of Martha Speaks, and Tacky the Penguin.

Clarion Books became an imprint of Houghton Mifflin in 1979. Clarion’s award-winning authors include David Wiesner, Linda Sue Park, Karen Cushman, Katherine Paterson, and Gary Schmidt.

Harcourt Children’s Books, known for classics such as The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge and The Little Prince, features notable authors and illustrators such as Avi, Janell Cannon, Margaret Chodos-Irvine, Lois Ehlert, Mem Fox, Han Nolan, Gennifer Choldenko, David Shannon, Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel, and Helen Oxenbury.

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