Noonday Paperbacks

Publisher: Noonday Press (1955-1960); Farrar, Straus and Cudahy (1960-1963); Farrar, Straus and Company (1963-1964); Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1964-1984)

Years: 1955-1984

Related Series: Sunburst Books

Noonday Press, founded October 1951, by Arthur A. Cohen, published its first novel on July 14, 1952: Epitaph of a Small Winner, by author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. Cohen intended Noonday to operate as a "university press type" of publisher, generally forfeiting the profit motive in favor of quality, and putting out the work of a Brazilian literary eminence, widely respected abroad but virtually unknown in the U.S., was certainly a good first step down that path. Three years later Machado de Assis's novel was announced as the first of the Noonday Paperbacks, a series distinct from Noonday's other quality paperback line, Meridian Books, which was intended for reprints of more scholarly works rather than novels.

From what I can tell, the first Noonday Paperbacks did not, at least initially, have any series numbers. Thus, although Epitaph of a Small Winner in later printings bore the series number N101, I don't think it had that number on initial publication as a paperback. Other early Noonday Paperbacks, like José Maria de Eça de Queirós/z's Cousin Bazilio and The Relic and Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro, never received series numbers (i.e., they probably never received later Noonday printings). It's not clear when the Noonday Paperbacks were assigned N- series numbers, although it's definitely by late 1958 or early 1959, as PW lists the spring 1959 titles with N- numbers and the Noonday catalog in the 1959 Publishers' Trade List Annual lists all titles in print with N- numbers.

Here are the early Noonday Paperbacks (titles in bold never received N- series numbers and were probably never reprinted):

  • Machado de Assis, Epitaph of a Small Winner (October 1955, $1.25) -- N101

  • Eca de Queiroz, Cousin Bazilio (July 1956, $1.25)

  • Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro (July 1956, $1.25)

  • Louis de Broglie, The Revolution in Physics (Oct. 1, 1956, $1.65) -- N103

  • Benedetto Croce, Aesthetic (Oct. 1, 1956, $1.95) -- N102

  • Knut Hamsun, Pan (Oct. 1, 1956, $1.25) -- N104

  • Eca de Queiroz, The Relic (Oct. 1, 1956, $1.25)

  • Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Shiva (Jan. 1957, postponed from Oct. 22, 1956, $1.45) -- N108

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov, A Study in Dostoevsky: Freedom and the Tragic Life (Feb. 1957, $1.45) -- N107

  • Hermann Hesse, Journey to the East (Mar. 1957, $1.25) -- N109

  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Laocoon (Mar. 1957, $1.45) -- N105

  • George Williamson, A Reader's Guide to T.S. Eliot (Mar. 1957, $1.45) -- N106

All other Noonday Paperbacks from 1957-1959, by which time new titles definitely had N- series numbers, received N- series numbers at some point, so I think it's sufficient to list everything by those numbers.

The Noonday titles continued through the sale of the Noonday Press to Farrar, Straus and Cudahy (later Farrar, Straus and Company from 1963-1964 and Farrar, Straus and Giroux from 1964 on) in 1960. FSG decided to drop the Noonday name at some point in the late 1970s -- the latest use of it in PW is from the Jan. 23, 1978, issue, but paperbacks continued to be assigned N- series numbers for a few years, at least until 1984.

In 1987 FSG chose to revive the Noonday name as a trade paperback imprint, placing Steve Wasserman in charge of both Noonday and Hill & Wang titles. Noonday paperbacks continued to be published by FSG into the late 1990s. I'm leaving these titles off because there's no systematic way to find them all. FSG was not a company that incorporated series numbers into their book numbers in the late 1960s, so it's not possible to track the series systematically after the N- series numbers disappeared.

More Information

Hermitage House is now acting . . ., 162 PW 136 (July 12, 1952) (announcing Epitaph of a Small Winner as Noonday Press's first novel).

Noonday Press will issue . . ., 168 PW 744 (Aug. 20, 1955):

NOONDAY PRESS will issue the novel “Epitaph of a Small Winner” by Machado de Assis as a paperback reprint at $1.25 this fall, with the intention of reprinting other books from the Noonday list if this one does well. These books will bear the Noonday imprint and will not be part of the Meridian line (also published by Noonday) which features reprints of more scholarly works.

Noonday Press, which early this year separated its operations . . ., 170 PW 802 (Aug. 20, 1956) (announcing five new Noonday Paperbacks for fall 1956).

Charles A. Madison, BOOK PUBLISHING IN AMERICA 530 (1966):

In 1960 [Farrar, Straus and Cudahy] added to its already large backlist the books of Noonday Press, both clothbound and paperbacks.

Farrar, Straus and Cudahy Purchases Noonday Press, Publishers Weekly, July 11, 1960, at 43:

Farrar, Straus and Cudahy acquired Noonday Press, Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary effective June 29. Sixty active backlist and current Noonday titles will now be on the Farrar, Straus and Cudahy list as “Farrar, Straus and Cudahy Noonday Paperbacks.”

Further expansion of the paperback program is scheduled for this winter when approximately 10 new titles will be shipped in November for January release.

Noonday was one of the earliest of the higher-priced paperback houses active in this country (PW, July 12, 1952). It was founded in 1951 by Arthur Cohen and Cecil Hemley, novelist and poet. The first books were published in 1952. In February, 1955, Noonday launched, as a new series, Meridian Books. In January, 1956, Noonday Press and Meridian Books separated, with Mr. Hemley remaining in charge of the former and Arthur Cohen becoming head of Meridian Books. On April 7 of this year (PW, April 18) World Publishing Co. acquired Meridian Books.

. . .

Most of the Farrar, Straus and Cudahy Noonday Paperbacks will be published simultaneously in cloth and paper. The forthcoming winter list includes a reissue of the Brazilian classic, “Dom Casmurro” by Machado de Assis; “Sex in Man and Woman” by analyst Theodor Reik (an original publication); “The Lost Weekend” by Charles Jackson, which is being reissued in both cloth and paperback editions; “The Glass Bees” by Ernst Juenger, the first English publication of a major German novel; a third enlarged edition of “Character Analysis” by Wilhelm Reik [sic]; “A Reader’s Guide to Literary Terms” by Karl Beckson and Arthur Ganz.

Noonday developed a notable series of Reader's Guides, including critical guides to the work of Joyce, Yeats, Eliot, and Conrad. This Reader’s Guide series will be expanded under the new program. Backlist Noonday Press titles now acquired by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy include: John W. Aldridge's “After the Lost Generation” in paper covers; and works by Lord Acton, Leonie Adams, Sholom Aleichem, Alfred Kazin, Jean Giraudoux, Paul Gauguin, R. K. Narayan, William Plomer, Jean-Paul Sartre and Louise Bogan, among many others.

Ad, Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1960, at 48-49:

Noonday Press, one of the oldest quality paperback houses, has just been acquired by Farrar, Straus & Cudahy. The first NOONDAY-FSC list, new additions to the 65 distinguished Noonday titles already in print (complete list on request), includes: . . .

Wasserman Named Publisher of Noonday Press, Hill and Wang, PW, Sept. 11, 1987, at 12.