Carroll & Graf (1982-2001)

carroll_graf_76963_FotorCarroll & Graf Publishers was founded in 1982 by Kent Carroll and his former colleague, Herman Graf. The duo had more enthusiasm than money, but their long-cultivated friendships with agents and bookstores as well as their reputation among suppliers allowed them to begin not so much as a start-up but, rather, a small independent press that had the feeling of having been around for a while.

A few early successes – including Nicholas Proffitt’s Gardens of Stone, which Francis Ford Coppola made into a well attended movie, and Alfred Lansing‘s account of Ernest Shackleton’s best-selling epic Arctic adventure, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage – afforded Carroll & Graf the financial backing and the credibility to grow.

By 1995 Carroll & Graf was releasing 125 titles of fiction and non-fiction every year. The publishing company achieved literary triumphs with Anthony Burgess and Beryl Bainbridge, Penelope Fitzgerald and J. G. Farrell; comforting commercial responses to Philip K. Dick and Eric Ambler; and best-sellers on the non-fiction lists, such as Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, which Oliver Stone transformed into the movie JFK. Over the years Carroll had the remarkable opportunity to work with and publish authors who won all the major prizes: Nobel, Pulitzer, and Booker.

At the turn of the century the 20-year partnership began to unravel. Graf wanted to cash in on their prosperity. Carroll was reluctant to sell but also emotionally and psychologically exhausted. He needed rest and time to enjoy the travel and exploration he had been postponing for many years. It helped that the woman in his life, then as now, Helen Whitney, owned a magnificent villa in Italy. His extended vacation lasted almost exactly two years before another publishing opportunity presented itself: Europa Editions.

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