|Edna Rudolph Beilenson|
(1909-06-16)June 16, 1909
New York, New York
|Died||February 28, 1981(1981-02-28) (aged 71)|
New York, New York
|Known for||Typography, Fine printing, Typesetting|
|Notable work||Book Making on the Distaff Side|
Edna Rudolph Beilenson (1909–1981) was an American typographer, fine press printer, typesetter, book designer, cook book author, publisher, and co-proprietor (with her husband, Peter Beilenson) of the Peter Pauper Press from 1931 until his death in 1962, and afterward its sole proprietor and president until her death in 1981.
Edna Rudolph was born June 16, 1909, in New York City, the daughter of the artist John and Anna (Beilenson) Rudolph. She graduated cum laude with a degree in journalism from Hunter College in 1928. In 1930, Rudolph married her cousin, Peter Beilenson, who had founded the Peter Pauper Press in 1928.
In 1932, Edna Beilenson joined in the business of press work at the Peter Pauper Press, learning bookkeeping and typesetting. She is credited with bringing a strong sense of graphic design and color to the press's productions, which became the hallmarks of Peter Pauper publications. The Press aimed "to print books as beautifully as a craftsman might, and sell them as cheaply as only a pauper could". Beilenson developed a keen business sense, introducing the concept of pocket-sized gift books, and edited a series of small cookbooks that sold extremely well.
Beilenson led a group of women active in the production of fine press books, from various forms of illustration, to book binding, punch cutting, typesetting, and graphic design, possibly as a women's response to the Typophiles organization, which did not admit women. Their first formal production was a feminist work entitled Bookmaking on the Distaff Side, published in 1937. They were joined by two male luminaries of the private press world, Bruce Rogers, who wrote the introduction, and Frederic W. Goudy, who wrote a remembrance of his wife, Bertha, who had died in 1936. Beilenson, Jane Grabhorn, Gertrude Stein, Wanda Gág, and others contributed essays, histories, images, and other works of satire and commentary about women's overlooked roles in the production of books; each signature of the book was printed by a different woman printer. For example, Beilenson's essay, "Men in Printing", was printed at the Peter Pauper Press, while Anne Lyon Haight's satire, "Are Women the Natural Enemies of Books?" was printed at the Powgen Press.
Beilenson's introduction to a 1950 Distaff Side publication, A Children's Sampler, clearly illuminates the group's mission:
- "The Distaff Side is a loosely-knit organization ... of women; and its membership has been enlisted from printing-offices, publishing houses, studios and other hiding-places where may be found devotees of the graphic arts.... [It] was born out of a righteous indignation that sufficient recognition had never been accorded to woman's place in the history of printing. To amend this deficiency, The Distaff Side published its first book, titled Bookmaking on the Distaff Side, which disclosed the monumental contributions which spinsters, wives, and widows have made to the graphic arts."
Under Beilenson's leadership, members of the same group later formed the Distaff Press which published several other titles on the subject of women's printing history.
Professional achievements and awards
Beilenson became an active member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and other professional book and graphic arts organizations. She was elected AIGA's first woman president, a post she held from 1958 to 1960. She was among the first women elected to the Grolier Club, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London, and president and chairman of the Goudy Society. In 1968, Who's Who of American Women cited Beilenson as the year's outstanding woman in business. In 1973 she was elected to the Hunter College Alumnae Hall of Fame. In 1980, she received the Rochester Institute of Technology's Goudy Award for excellence in typography.
Edna Beilenson's role in the printing and publishing business was so fully integrated with her husband's that when Peter Beilenson died suddenly in 1962, she was able to take over the business and continue the press's operations successfully until her own death on February 28, 1981. Since 1981, the Beilenson family has continued to operate the Peter Pauper Press as a family business.
- Book Making on the Distaff Side. New York: Distaff Side, 1937.
- Beilenson, Edna, "Big Chief Type-Face". In A Garland for Goudy: Being Verses, Old and New, Gathered for his Eightieth Birthday, March Eighth, 1945. Mount Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1945.
- Beilenson, Edna, "Experimentation and the Individual—A Psychological Approach". In Graphic Forms: The Arts As Related to the Book. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949.
- Beilenson, Edna, ed. A Children's Sampler: Selections from Famous Children's Books, Printed with Care & Solicitude. New York: Distaff Side, 1950.
- Simple Cookery series. Peter Pauper Press.
- ABCs of... Cookery series. Peter Pauper Press.
- Beilenson, Edna, and Herb Roth. Cooking to Kill!: The Poison Cook-Book, Comic Recipes for the Ghoul, Cannibal, Witch & Murderer. Mount Vernon, N.Y: Peter Pauper Press, 1951.
- Beilenson, Edna. Abalone to Zabaglione: Unusual and Exotic Recipes. Mt. Vernon, N.Y: Peter Pauper Press, 1957
- ^"Edna Beilenson". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center.
- ^ abDonnelly, Sean; Dobkin, J. B.; Mathews, Richard (2013-01-01). The Peter Pauper Press of Peter and Edna Beilenson: 1928–1979 : a bibliography and history. pp. xvi–xix. ISBN 9781597320979.
- ^ abBeilenson, Peter (1937-01-01). "The Walpole Printing Office, the Peter Pauper Press, Not to Mention the Blue-Behinded Ape". The Annual of Bookmaking. 1: n.p.
- ^Donnelly, Sean; Dobkin, J. B.; Mathews, Richard (2013-01-01). The Peter Pauper Press of Peter and Edna Beilenson: 1928-1979 : a bibliography and history. pp. xxiii–xxv. ISBN 9781597320979.
- ^Donnelly, Sean; Dobkin, J. B.; Mathews, Richard (2013-01-01). The Peter Pauper Press of Peter and Edna Beilenson: 1928-1979 : a bibliography and history. p. xliii. ISBN 9781597320979.
- ^Rogers, Bruce; Distaff Side; Frederic W. Goudy Collection (Library of Congress); Pforzheimer Bruce Rogers Collection (Library of Congress) (1937-01-01). Bookmaking on the Distaff Side. [New York]: [Distaff Side].
- ^ abHiggins, Janet (1988). "'And the Wife Helped Also'". Southeastern College Art Conference Review. II (3): 202 – via Art Full Text.
- ^ abSchaffner, Jennifer (2003). "27th Annual Conference a Blast: The Book as a Pot-Luck Offering: Edna Beilenson, Jane Grabhorn & the Books of the Distaff Side"(PDF). American Printing Historical Association Newsletter. 154: 3.
- ^Hastings, Emi (2015-02-19). "Bookmaking on the Distaff Side". Adventures in Book Collecting. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
- ^A children's sampler: selections from famous children's books. New York: Distaff Side. 1950-01-01. p. title page.
- ^Distaff Side; Rogers, Bruce; Dwiggins, Mabel H; Lochhead, Alice Goudy; Bennett, Paul A; Macy, George; Goudy, Frederic W; Beilenson, Peter; Dunning, Mae Bradford (1958-01-01). Bertha S. Goudy: first lady of printing.
- ^"75 Years of AIGA". AIGA. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
- ^ abc"Edna Beilenson, 71, Graphic Arts Expert and Book Publisher". The New York Times March 4, 1981.
- ^"Edna Beilenson, (1909–1981) Goudy Award Winner". Cary Graphic Arts Collection. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
- ^Donnelly, Sean; Dobkin, J. B.; Mathews, Richard (2013-01-01). The Peter Pauper Press of Peter and Edna Beilenson: 1928-1979 : a bibliography and history. pp. xi–xii. ISBN 9781597320979.
Laurence Beilenson is the press’s president and the third generation of his family to operate the business, which his grandfather Peter Beilenson started and ran with his wife, Edna. “She had a lot to do with conceiving the concept of the gift book, and continued to build the business into the 1970s, after my grandfather passed away,” he says of his grandmother. After Edna’s death, there was a temporary lull in the press’s operation until her son Nick and his wife, Evelyn – Laurence’s parents – stepped in to rebuild the company. Laurence joined the press in 1994; Nick is retired and Evelyn serves as publisher.
“Our children’s activity books are a significant part of our business now, and we are always trying to build on our previous successes,” Laurence Beilenson says of Peter Pauper’s foray into the picture book market. “We have a strong relationship with buyers at chains, independent bookstores, toy stores, and gift stores that buy children’s products. Publishing trade picture books is a natural progression for us, and we expect to sell them through these same channels.”
The idea of publishing in this format has “been simmering for a while,” says senior editor Mara Conlon, who edited Hank Finds an Egg. “But we had the luxury of waiting for the right book to launch with, and this was it.” In this wordless book (a different version of which the author had originally self-published), the title character finds an egg on the forest floor and makes repeated attempts to return it to its nest above before finally succeeding.
Conlon credits Dudley’s original artwork with much of the book’s appeal. “Rebecca builds dioramas by hand and then photographs them, and it is amazing that she can give so much expression to a still, puppet-like character,” she says. “There’s something very subtle and endearing about Hank, and we fell in love with him. And his sweet, kind story absolutely won us over.”
To start, Peter Pauper Press will publish two to four hardcover picture books annually, Conlon says. Scheduled for fall 2013 release are Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep! by Bruce Arant and Digby Differs by Miriam Koch; Sarra J. Roth’s Not the Quitting Kind is due in spring 2014. “Since we are not a traditional trade publisher and we publish so many other categories, it’s nice that we can be very picky,” says the editor. “We are able to take our time and select only the picture books we really want.”
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. Peter Pauper Press, $16.99 May ISBN 978-1-4413-1158-0