William McGuire, Remembered

September 23rd, 2009 by EVENTS

William McGuire, Former Executive Editor of the Bollingen list has passed away. The following memorial was originally posted on the Princeton University Press Blog.

William McGuire (1917–2009) began his career as a newspaper reporter in his beloved home town of St. Augustine, Florida; it wasn’t long before he was offered a job offer by the New Yorker, where he served as a reporter and editor with distinction for many years. Bill was deeply committed to the causes of world peace and social justice, and it was in this spirit that he left this secure job in 1946 for a position as an “all-purpose writer/editor” in the office of the Secretariat at the fledgling United Nations.

But it was in 1948, when Bill accepted an offer from Kurt and Helen Wolff to work as an editor at Pantheon Books, that Bill found his life’s work.  At the time, Pantheon just happened to share a cramped walk-up office at 41 Washington Square with a new organization founded by Paul and Mary Mellon, to which they’d given the peculiar name of “Bollingen.”  It wasn’t long before Bill was recruited by the Bollingen group to edit the first titles in the Mellons’ ambitious publishing plan, and only a few months later he found himself on the subway ride home with the manuscript for Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces under his arm.  By 1951, Bill was named Executive Editor of the Collected Works of C. G. Jung.

It was our own good fortune that in 1967, when the Bollingen publishing group found its new home at Princeton University Press, Bill McGuire joined the Press staff as Executive Editor of the Bollingen list, which at the point had as many unpublished projects as published titles.  Not long after Princeton took over the series, Princeton announced the publication of a landmark book, The Freud/Jung Letters, brilliantly edited by William McGuire, which was quickly hailed as a monument in intellectual history. The Times of London wrote, “It is as if Voltaire and Rousseau, or Lenin and Trotsky . . . had written to each other everyday”; Psychology Today devoted an entire issue to the book.

In 1982 Bill announced his retirement, to take effect that December, following the publication of his indispensable history of the Bollingen enterprise, Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past. The Press threw a gala party to celebrate his career and bid him farewell, and presented him with a bound book of personal letters sent in for this occasion by such Bollingen luminaries as Joseph Campbell, Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, Lord Kenneth Clark, and Mircea Eliade.

In the years following his retirement, Bill continued to research and publish on subjects related to Bollingen, including a history of the Bollingen Prize in poetry and its controversial award to Ezra Pound, in Poetry’s Catbird Seat: The Consultantship in Poetry in the English Language at the Library of Congres, 1937–1987; he also published a study of the novels of William Dean Howells, another native son of St. Augustine.  Bill remained a friend and advisor to the Press on all matters Bollingen through the last decades, and gave us invaluable advice on the publishing of Jung’s seminars and the groundbreaking electronic version of the Bollingen edition I Ching.

We will dearly miss our longtime friend, colleague, and author.

The Staff of Princeton University Press

Posted in Editors Speak


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