Roger W. Straus Jr., the blunt, theatrical Guggenheim heir who co-founded one of the great publishing houses, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, died Tuesday, May 25, 2004, of pneumonia at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. He was 87. Straus was among the last of the true old-fashioned publishers. He ran his own company for more than half a century, holding on even as the book world evolved from a small, clannish community to an increasingly impersonal, money-minded business. In 1945, Straus and fellow publisher John Farrar formed Farrar, Straus & Company, Inc., which eventually gained a reputation for emphasizing literary quality over commercial success. In 1955, editor Robert Giroux was hired from Harcourt, Brace, bringing with him T.S. Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, Bernard Malamud, Robert Lowell and other major authors. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, the company's eventual name, eventually published a number of Nobel laureates, including Eliot, Nadine Gordimer, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Seamus Heaney.
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