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Robert Silvers, a Founding Editor of New York Review of Books, Dies at 87

Mar 21, 2017


Robert B. Silvers in his office at The New York Review of Books in 2012. CreditFred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Robert B. Silvers, a founder of The New York Review of Books, which under his editorship became one of the premier intellectual journals in the United States, a showcase for extended, thoughtful essays on literature and politics by eminent writers, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Rea S. Hederman, the publisher of The Review, confirmed the death.

The New York Review, founded in 1963, was born with a mission — to raise the standards of book reviewing and literary discussion in the United States and nurture a hybrid form of politico-cultural essay. Mr. Silvers brought to its pages a self-effacing, almost priestly sense of devotion that ultimately made him indistinguishable from the publication he edited, and it from him.

He shared editorial duties with Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006, but it was Mr. Silvers who came to embody The Review’s mystique, despite, or perhaps because of, his insistence on remaining a behind-the-scenes presence, loath to grant interviews or make public appearances.

“I put my name on the paper, and the rest I don’t care to be known,” he told Philip Nobile, the author of “Intellectual Skywriting: Literary Politics and The New York Review of Books” (1974). In a 2008 interview for the online program Thoughtcast, Mr. Silvers said: “The editor is a middleman. The one thing he should avoid is taking credit. It’s the writer that counts.”

He arrived at the office early and left late, if at all, to the kind of heavyweight cocktail party that was, for him, a happy hunting ground for writers and ideas. For many years, his companion was Grace, the Countess of Dudley, with whom he shared a passion for opera and a vacation home in Lausanne, Switzerland. She died in December. Mr. Silvers is survived by nieces and nephews.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/robert-silvers-dead-founding-editor-new-york-review-of-books-nyrb.html?_r=0