|Founder||Alfred Harcourt, Donald Brace|
|Successor||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||San Diego, California|
Harcourt was a United States publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with editorial/sales/marketing/rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida. From 1919 to 1982, it was based in New York City.
Houghton Mifflin acquired Harcourt in 2007. It incorporated the Harcourt name to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As of 2012, all Harcourt books that have been re-released are under the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt name. The Harcourt Children's Books division left the name intact on all of its books under that name as part of HMH.
In 2007 the U.S. Schools Education and Trade Publishing parts of Harcourt Education were sold by Reed Elsevier to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group.Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International were acquired by Pearson, the international education and information company, in January 2008.
The first-created component of what would eventually become Harcourt was the World Book Company (unrelated to the Chicago-based World Book, Inc. publisher of reference works), which opened its first office in Manila in 1905 and published English-language educational materials for schools in the Philippines. The company later moved to New York City, where it became a test publisher. Much of the company's success was based on the work of Arthur S. Otis. He was best known for the intelligence tests he developed for the U.S. Army. Millions of World War I draftees took Otis tests.
World Book Company became the first publisher of group-administered tests measuring mental ability when it published Otis's Group Intelligence Scale in 1918. Otis became a World Book employee in 1921. By 1960, World Book had a portfolio of educational tests, including the Stanford Achievement Test (1923), the Metropolitan Achievement Test (1932) and the Otis Mental Ability Test (1936).
Alfred Harcourt and Donald Brace were friends at Columbia College of Columbia University in New York, from which they both graduated in 1904. The two worked for Henry Holt and Company before founding their own publishing company in 1919, Harcourt, Brace & Howe, along with editor Will David Howe. After Howe left the company in 1921, the partners changed the name to Harcourt, Brace & Company. They published the works of a number of writers who became internationally renowned, including Walter Lippmann, Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, James Thurber, George Orwell, Valentine Davies and Robert Penn Warren.
The name Harcourt, Brace & World was introduced in 1931, if not before. By 1960, Harcourt Brace led the market in high school textbook publishing, but had little presence in the elementary school market. That year, William Jovanovich, who had become president of the company in 1954, took the company public and merged Harcourt Brace & Company with World Book Company to create Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
This strategic action improved the position of Harcourt Brace because World Book was an established elementary textbook publisher and test publisher.
In 1970, the company was known as Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ), with William Jovanovich as chairman. That same year, the company acquired The Psychological Corporation. Under Jovanovich's leadership, the company diversified into non-publishing businesses such as insurance and business consulting. It also bought several theme parks--including SeaWorld, which it acquired in 1976 for $46 million. The company divested its theme park division in 1989 for $1.1 billion.
In 1991, General Cinema Corporation, a diversified company (that operated a national chain of movie theaters, and retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman), acquired Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for more than $1.5 billion. In 1993, General Cinema Corporation renamed itself Harcourt General. It restored the 1921-1960 name "Harcourt Brace & Company" to its publishing division. At the end of the year, it divested itself of the cinema division.
In 1999, Harcourt General also divested its retail division and shortened the publishing division's name to Harcourt, Inc.
In 2001, the Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier acquired Harcourt General and Harcourt, Inc. Harcourt Trade Publishers was a member of the Reed Elsevier Group plc (NYSE: RUK and ENL), a publisher and information provider operating in four global industry sectors: science and medical, legal, education, and business.
On February 15, 2007, Reed Elsevier announced its intention to sell its education arm, Harcourt Education, of which Harcourt Trade Publishers was a part. According to Reed Chief Executive Crispin Davis, "This is essentially a strategic decision that we want to focus more sharply on our three existing businesses ... with better growth rates." On July 17, 2007, Reed Elsevier announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Harcourt U.S. Schools Education business, including Harcourt Trade Publishers, to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group. The merger was completed and the Harcourt name ceased being used separately[vague] in 2008. Harcourt Religion was sold to Our Sunday Visitor in 2009. Houghton Mifflin Company acquired Harcourt in 2007, combining the Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt names to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Harcourt Trade Publishers published a wide range of books under a variety of imprints, including Harvest Books, Gulliver Books, Silver Whistle, Red Wagon Books, Harcourt Young Classics, Green Light Readers, Voyager Books/Libros Viajeros, Harcourt Paperbacks, Odyssey Classics, and Magic Carpet Books.
Harcourt's adult books division was one of the most historic of the American literary publishers. Its backlist included Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, and Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Harcourt also published high-quality literature in translation by acquiring European writers such as Günter Grass (Germany) and Umberto Eco (Italy).
Harcourt Children's Books published books for children of all ages, including interactive books for toddlers, picture books for young children, science fiction and fantasy novels for preteen and teens, as well as historical fiction. The house was the original publisher of such classics as The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince by St. Exupery; Mary Poppins, The Borrowers, and Half Magic.
Harcourt School Publishers - U.S. elementary (pre-K-6) publisher with particular strength in the four major subject areas of science, reading, math and social studies.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston - U.S. secondary (grades 6-12) publisher with a leading position in literature and language arts, the largest middle and secondary school discipline. Holt also publishes in science, mathematics, social studies, and world languages.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich acquired the educational arm of Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1985 from CBS, and it retained the Holt, Rinehart and Winston name. CBS also sold in 1985 the other arm of the company, the retail publishing arm, to the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group based in Stuttgart, and it operated as a subsidiary publishing under its original name, Henry Holt and Company.
Harcourt Achieve, Professional and Trade - publishers of supplemental and alternative core educational materials for pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools materials for adult education, school libraries and teacher professional development; and adult and children's trade books. Includes Harcourt Achieve, Greenwood/Heinemann, Global Library, Classroom Connect, Rigby, Steck-Vaugn, Harcourt Religion Publishers and Harcourt Trade Publishers.
Harcourt Assessment - develops tests and resources for educational, psychological, speech, and occupational therapy assessment, as well as human resource selection and hiring (talent assessment). Tests include WISC, WAIS, WPPSI, Raven's Progressive Matrices and Versant.
Harcourt Education International - publisher for the UK primary, secondary and vocational (further education) markets as well as English-medium schools worldwide. Also covers the Australasian primary, secondary and further education sectors. Its imprints include Heinemann, Rigby, Ginn, Payne-Gallway and Raintree.