Robert Adams Gottlieb
April 29, 1931
New York, New York, United States
Muriel Higgins (divorced)
Maria Tucci (m. 1969)
(1st marriage) Roger
(2nd marriage) Elizabeth
|Awards||Phi Beta Kappa|
Robert Gottlieb was born to a Jewish family in New York City in 1931 and grew up in Manhattan. During his childhood, he "was your basic, garden-variety, ambitious, upwardly mobile, hard-working Jewish boy from Brooklyn. I was bound to go beyond my parents. It was simply the way things were.” His middle name was given to him in honor of his uncle, Arthur Adams who is now known to have been a Soviet spy.
Gottlieb joined Simon & Schuster in 1955 as an editorial assistant to Jack Goodman, the editor-in-chief. Within ten years he himself became the editor-in-chief. At that publisher, Gottlieb's most notable discovery, which he edited, was Catch-22, by the then-unknown Joseph Heller.
In 1968, Gottlieb along with Nina Bourne and Anthony Schulte, moved to Alfred A. Knopf as editor-in-chief; soon after he became president. He left in 1987 to succeed William Shawn as editor of The New Yorker, staying in that position until 1992. After his departure from The New Yorker, Gottlieb returned to Alfred A. Knopf as editor ex officio.
Gottlieb has been a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and has been the dance critic for The New York Observer since 1999. He is the author of biographies of George Balanchine, Sarah Bernhardt, and the family of Charles Dickens, as well as of a collection of his critical essays. A Certain Style, his lavishly illustrated book about the plastic handbags of which he was a major collector, was published by Alfred A. Knopf. He has edited three major anthologies: "Reading Jazz", "Reading Dance", and (with Robert Kimball) "Reading Lyrics".
Gottlieb suffered some ignominy for rejecting “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole, a book which later won the Pulitzer Prize when it was published posthumously after the author’s suicide.
Gottlieb's autobiography, Avid Reader: A Life, was published in September 2016.
'Gottlieb is widely considered to be one of the greatest editors of the second half of the 20th century,' is a claim written into the press release to promote Gottlieb's 2015 autobiography, Avid Reader: A Life.
Gottlieb has edited novels by John Cheever, Doris Lessing, Chaim Potok, Charles Portis, Salman Rushdie, John Gardner, Len Deighton, John le Carré, Ray Bradbury, Elia Kazan, Margaret Drabble, Michael Crichton, Mordecai Richler and Toni Morrison, and non-fiction books by Bill Clinton, Janet Malcolm, Katharine Graham, Nora Ephron, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Tuchman, Jessica Mitford, Robert Caro, Antonia Fraser, Lauren Bacall, Liv Ullmann, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Bruno Bettelheim, Carl Schorske, and many others.
In a 1994 interview with The Paris Review, Gottlieb described his need to "surrender" to a book. "The more you have surrendered," he said, "the more jarring its errors appear. I read a manuscript very quickly, the moment I get it. I usually won't use a pencil the first time through because I'm just reading for impressions. When I read the end, I'll call the writer and say, I think it's very fine (or whatever), but I think there are problems here and here. At that point I don't know why I think that—I just think it. Then I go back and read the manuscript again, more slowly, and I find and mark the places where I had negative reactions to try to figure out what's wrong. The second time through I think about solutions—maybe this needs expanding, maybe there's too much of this so it's blurring that.
For many years Gottlieb was associated with New York City Ballet, serving as a member of its board of directors. He has published many books by people from the dance world, including Mikhail Baryshnikov and Margot Fonteyn. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Miami City Ballet.
Gottlieb married Muriel Higgins in 1952; they had one child, Roger. In 1969, Gottlieb married Maria Tucci, an actress whose father, the novelist Niccolò Tucci, was one of Gottlieb's writers. They have two children: Lizzie Gottlieb, a film director, and Nicholas (Nicky), who is the subject of one of his sister's documentary films, Today's Man.
|url=(help). Biography In Context. Detroit: Gale. 2013. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000038386. Retrieved 2013-04-12. (subscription required)
| Editor of The New Yorker