Fadiman, Clifton

Fadiman, Clifton
▪ 2000
      American writer, critic, and editor (b. May 15, 1904, Brooklyn, N.Y.—d. June 20, 1999, Sanibel Island, Florida), loved books and learning and had a career of some six decades in which he strove to share his knowledge and interests with others. He was host of the 1930s and '40s radio show Information Please, participated in several other radio and television shows, served on the editorial board of the Book-of-the-Month Club, compiled over two dozen anthologies, and had a long, invaluable association with Encyclopædia Britannica that included a half century on the Board of Editors. Fadiman began reading when he was four and developed his enthusiasm for learning immediately. After graduating (1925) Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, New York City, he held such positions as editor (1929–35) at the book publisher Simon and Schuster and book editor (1933–43) for The New Yorker magazine before helping establish the Book-of-the-Month Club, for which he judged selections (1944–93), was chief editorial adviser (1994–97), and became (1997) chairman emeritus of the editorial board. Fadiman's stint on Information Please gained him a reputation for knowing everything, which he denied, and emphasized to him the public's interest in knowing facts. His work with Britannica especially demonstrated his respect for books. To write the article on children's literature, he learned a number of languages to help him achieve worldwide coverage, and to compile Treasury of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1992), he read or skimmed about 200 years' worth of volumes. Among his other projects, he was also central to the development of the company's Young Children's Encyclopedia. Another of Fadiman's enthusiasms was for wine, an interest he shared by coauthoring, with Sam Aaron, The Joys of Wine (1975). Of the number of anthologies he compiled, one of the most important was The World Treasury of Children's Literature (vol. 1 and 2, 1984; vol. 3, 1985). In 1993 Fadiman was honoured with the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

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▪ American editor
in full  Clifton Paul Fadiman 
born May 15, 1904, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.
died June 20, 1999, Sanibel Island, Fla.
 American editor, anthologist, and writer known for his extraordinary memory and his wide-ranging knowledge.

      Fadiman was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, and he early became an avid and voracious reader. After graduating from Columbia University, New York City, in 1925, he taught school and then became an editor in the publishing firm of Simon & Schuster. He was book editor of The New Yorker magazine from 1933 to 1943, and from 1938 to 1948 he was master of ceremonies of the popular radio program Information Please, on which he and such panelists as Franklin P. Adams (Adams, Franklin Pierce), John Kieran, and Oscar Levant used questions submitted by listeners as occasions for the entertaining display of wit and erudition.

      From 1944 to 1993 he was a member of the editorial board of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and from 1959 to 1998 he was a member of the Board of Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. At various times he was a magazine columnist, television host, and essayist, but it was as an anthologist that he made his most lasting contributions. Among the volumes aimed at introducing readers of all ages to the joys of literature were Reading I've Liked (1941), The American Treasury (1955), Fantasia Mathematica (1958), The World Treasury of Children's Literature (1984–85), and Treasury of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1992). He also wrote Party of One (collected magazine columns, 1955), Any Number Can Play (1957), Enter Conversing (1962), and The Joys of Wine (with Sam Aaron, 1975).

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Universalium. 2010.

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