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Walter J. Minton, Publisher Who Defied Censors, Dies at 96

Walter J. Minton in an undated photo. In his 23 years at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, he published best sellers like “The Godfather” and acclaimed novels like “Lord of the Flies” as well as controversial works like “Lolita.” 

In 1964, Mr. Minton...

In 1964, Mr. Minton published “Candy,” a pornography spoof written six years earlier by the novelist and screenwriter Terry Southern[1] and the poet Mason Hoffenberg[2]. Reminiscent of “Candide,” Voltaire’s tale of an innocent nymphet, “Candy” had been banned in the United States and, like “Lolita,” initially published by Olympia Press. Another ambitious Minton project was publication of an 1894 translation of the voluminous memoirs of Casanova.

Mr. Minton also stirred controversy by issuing Elliott Roosevelt[3]’s 1973 book, “The Roosevelts of Hyde Park: A[4]n Untold Story.”[5] Written with James Brough[6], it elaborated on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s intimate relationships with his secretaries Marguerite LeHand and Lucy Page Mercer. The four other children of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt disassociated themselves[7] from the work.

Walter Joseph Minton was born in the Bronx on Nov. 13, 1923, to Melville[8] and Ida (Harris) Minton[9], and grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y. His father was a founder of the publisher Minton, Balch & Company in 1924, and after its merger with Putnam’s he became the company’s president in 1932, publishing works by Winston Churchill, John Dewey and Adm. Richard E. Byrd.

Putnam’s, founded in New York in 1838, had a storied history; its authors included William Cullen Bryant, Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, James Russell Lowell and Edgar Allan Poe. George Palmer Putnam, the founder’s grandson, published Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 autobiography, “We,” and later married the aviator Amelia Earhart.

Walter graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, attended Williams College in Massachusetts in 1941 and 1942 and, after Army service in World War II, graduated from Harvard in 1947. He then joined his father’s firm as a salesman and director of advertising and publicity for the subsidiaries Coward-McCann (later Coward, McCann & Geohegan) and John Day Company.

Mr. Minton’s marriage to Pauline Ehst[10], in 1949, ended in divorce in 1970. He married Marion Joan Whitehorn that same year.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children from his first marriage, Andrew, David and Pamela Minton; three children from his second marriage, William, Jennifer Minton Quigley and Katherine Minton Aisner; 17 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

References

  1. ^ Terry Southern (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ Mason Hoffenberg (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Elliott Roosevelt (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ “The Roosevelts of Hyde Park: A (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Untold Story.” (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ James Brough (en.wikipedia.org)
  7. ^ disassociated themselves (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ Melville (prabook.com)
  9. ^ Ida (Harris) Minton (www.ancestry.com)
  10. ^ Pauline Ehst (www.legacy.com)

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