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William C. Morris, HarperCollins Vice President, Dies at 74

William C. Morris, Vice President and Director of Library Promotion at HarperCollins Children's Books [US], died of cancer on September 29, 2003 at his home in Manhattan. He was 74 years old.

New York Times obit.

Born and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas, he graduated from Rice University and went on to earn a masters degree in American Literature from Duke University. His career in publishing began when he took a job as Christmas help selling books in the Grand Central Station branch of the Doubleday Bookstore in New York City. In 1955 he was hired by Harper & Brothers to sell both children's and adult books in the New York area. He never left Harper, and over the ensuing 48 years he moved up through the ranks to his final position as Vice President and Director of Library Promotion, and his work focused increasingly on spreading the word about Harper's children's books to librarians and teachers. Over the years, he was instrumental in moving the focus from textbooks to trade books, and he instituted many practices that are today's standards, such as sending review copies to teachers and exhibiting trade titles at institutional shows. His dedication and passion for bringing the publishing and educational community together was personal and pervasive, and over the years the library community recognized him with numerous tributes and awards, including the Association for Library Service to Children Distinguished Service Award. Bill received that honor in 1992, and it is a measure of his standing in that community that he, not a librarian, was the first recipient of this award.

Charlotte Zolotow, who for many years was Publisher of the Children's Division at Harper, once called Bill Morris "the soul of publishing," and cited what many authors, artists, librarians and editors knew first-hand: Bill's determination to read every children's book he could read, list after list, his astounding knowledge of the canon of children's literature, his courageous support of controversial titles, his honest and vocal admiration of the craft of writing, his depth of knowledge of not only books but of the interest and needs of authors and librarians, and his determination to spread the word about their importance to the world. Though the children's book community may have lost Bill Morris, his deep commitment to children's literature, his courageous dedication to the groundbreaking book and the daring author, and his passion for getting every deserving book into the hands of a child will endure.

[quoted from Press Release]

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on October 6, 2003 7:09 AM.

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