Thomas Seltzer (translator)

Last updated

Logo of Thomas Seltzer's publishing company from D.H. Lawrence's Tortoises Tortoises, 1921, Publisher's Logo (Thomas Seltzer).jpg
Logo of Thomas Seltzer's publishing company from D.H. Lawrence's Tortoises

Thomas Seltzer (22 February 1875, Russia − 11 September 1943, New York City) was a Russian-American translator, editor and book publisher.



Signature of Thomas Seltzer Signature of Thomas Seltzer.jpg
Signature of Thomas Seltzer

Born in Russia, Thomas Seltzer moved to the United States with his family as a young child. He attended the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship and graduated in 1897, going on to do post-graduate work at Columbia University. In addition to speaking his native Russian, Seltzer was conversant in Polish, Italian, German, Yiddish, and French and it was his language skills that led him to a career as a translator. He parleyed his way with words into work as a journalist and editor, writing for newspapers and magazines, notably Harper's Weekly and in 1911–1918, Seltzer worked with Max Eastman, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, and others as editor of the socialist magazine, The Masses .

As an editor, Seltzer gained experience at Funk & Wagnalls and beginning in 1917 the New York publishing firm Boni & Liveright. It was during his tenure with Funk & Wagnalls that Seltzer met his wife Adele Szold and the couple were married 21 October 1906.

In 1919 Seltzer established his own publishing venture, Thomas Seltzer, Inc., and is credited with bringing D. H. Lawrence's works to the American public. His work also brought him into contact with such authors as Henry James and Theodore Dreiser.

As a result of publishing controversial writers, Seltzer was attacked by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1922 and all copies of D. H.Lawrence's Women in Love , Arthur Schnitzler's Casanova's Homecoming, and the anonymously written A Young Girl's Diary were confiscated. Seltzer refused to back down, retaining a lawyer and fighting the attempted censorship in the court case People v. Seltzer. Although victorious, it was not to be the end of Seltzer's fight against censorship, as he was charged with publishing "unclean" books in 1923; once again, D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love was the impetus for the charges. Fighting censorship charges eventually led Seltzer's publishing efforts into bankruptcy. The business was taken over by Seltzer's nephews Charles and Albert Boni. [1]

Seltzer died in New York on 11 September 1943, three years after Adele's death. He had no children.


Works translated by Seltzer:

Works compiled and edited by Seltzer:

Works Published by Thomas Seltzer, Inc.:

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Theodore Dreiser</span> American novelist and journalist (1871–1945)

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser was an American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school. His novels often featured main characters who succeeded at their objectives despite a lack of a firm moral code, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency. Dreiser's best known novels include Sister Carrie (1900) and An American Tragedy (1925).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leonid Andreyev</span> Russian playwright and writer

Leonid Nikolaievich Andreyev was a Russian playwright, novelist and short-story writer, who is considered to be a father of Expressionism in Russian literature. He is regarded as one of the most talented and prolific representatives of the Silver Age literary period. Andreyev's style combines the elements of realist, naturalist, and symbolist schools in literature. Of his 25 plays, his 1915 play He Who Gets Slapped is regarded as his finest achievement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hendrik Willem van Loon</span> Dutch-American historian, journalist and author

Hendrik Willem van Loon was a Dutch-American historian, journalist, and children's book author.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Witter Bynner</span> American author (1881–1968)

Harold Witter Bynner, also known by the pen name Emanuel Morgan, was an American poet and translator. He was known for his long residence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and association with other literary figures there.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarah Millin</span> South African author (1889–1968)

Sarah Gertrude Millin, née Liebson, was a South African author.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mikhail Artsybashev</span> Russian writer and playwright

Mikhail Petrovich Artsybashev was a Ukrainian writer and playwright, and a major proponent of the literary style known as naturalism. He was the great-grandson of Tadeusz Kościuszko and father of Boris Artzybasheff, who emigrated to the United States and became famous as an illustrator. Following the Russian Revolution, in 1923 Artsybashev emigrated to Poland, where he died in 1927.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harold Loeb</span> American writer

Harold Albert Loeb was an American writer, notable as an important American figure in the arts among expatriates in Paris in the 1920s. In 1921 he was the founding editor of Broom, an international literary and art magazine, which was first published in New York City before he moved the venture to Europe. Loeb published two novels while living in Paris in the 1920s, and additional works after returning to New York in 1929.

<i>The Ladybird</i>

The Ladybird is a long tale or novella by D. H. Lawrence.

<i>The Glebe</i> (literary magazine) American literary magazine

The Glebe was a literary magazine edited by Alfred Kreymborg and Man Ray from 1913 to 1914. The first issue was published from Grantwood, New Jersey while the rest of the run was published in New York by Albert & Charles Boni. Ten issues were produced, with a circulation of 300. Issue number 5 comprised the first anthology of Imagism: Des Imagistes.

Evelyn Scott was an American novelist, playwright and poet. A modernist and experimental writer, Scott "was a significant literary figure in the 1920s and 1930s, but she eventually sank into critical oblivion."

Genevieve Taggard was an American poet.

Horace Brisbin Liveright was an American publisher and stage producer. With Albert Boni, he founded the Modern Library and Boni & Liveright publishers. He published the books of numerous influential American and British authors. Turning to theatre, he produced the successful 1927 Broadway play Dracula, with Béla Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan in the roles they would make famous in the 1931 film by the same name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herman Bernstein</span> American journalist, poet, novelist, playwright, translator, Jewish activist and diplomat

Herman Bernstein was an American journalist, poet, novelist, playwright, translator, Jewish activist, and diplomat. He was the United States Ambassador to Albania and was the founder of Der Tog, the Jewish daily newspaper.

Cedar Paul, néeGertrude Mary Davenport was a singer, author, translator and journalist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">B. W. Huebsch</span>

Benjamin W. Huebsch was an American publisher in New York City in the early 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sergey Semyonov (writer)</span>

Sergey Terentyevich Semyonov was a Russian writer and a member of the Moscow literary group Sreda.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Rhys Williams</span> American journalist, labor organizer, and publicist

Albert Rhys Williams, commonly known by his middle name, pronounced "Reece," was an American journalist, labor organizer, and publicist. He is most famous for writing memoirs in favor of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia: he had been both a witness and a participant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boni & Liveright</span> American trade book publisher

Boni & Liveright is an American trade book publisher established in 1917 in New York City by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright. Over the next sixteen years the firm, which changed its name to Horace Liveright, Inc., in 1928 and then Liveright, Inc., in 1931, published over a thousand books. Before its bankruptcy in 1933 and subsequent reorganization as Liveright Publishing Corporation, Inc., it had achieved considerable notoriety for editorial acumen, brash marketing, and challenge to contemporary obscenity and censorship laws. Their logo is of a cowled monk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Boni</span> American publisher

Albert Boni was co-founder of the publishing company Boni & Liveright and a pioneering publisher in paperbacks and book clubs.

<i>The Smart Set Anthology</i>

The Smart Set Anthology is an anthology of selections from The Smart Set literary magazine, edited by Burton Rascoe and Groff Conklin. It was first published in hardcover by Reynal & Hitchcock in 1934, and reprinted as The Smart Set Anthology of World Famous Authors by Halcyon House in the same year. It was reissued by Grayson as The Bachelor's Companion in 1944. The book has the distinction of being the first anthology with which Conklin was involved in an editorial capacity; he went on to become a prolific anthologist, mostly of science fiction.


  1. Levin, Alexandra Lee. "Thomas Seltzer: Publisher, Fighter for Freedom of the Press, and the man who 'Made' D. H. Lawrence". American Jewish Archives January 1989.
  2. "The Newest Books". The Independent. 13 July 1914. Retrieved 14 August 2012.

Further reading