Beacon Press

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Beacon Press
Parent company Unitarian Universalist Association
Founded 1854
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Boston
Distribution Random House Publisher Services
Key people Helene Atwan, director
Official website

Beacon Press is an American non-profit book publisher. Founded in 1854 by the American Unitarian Association, it is currently a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association.[1]


Under director Gobin Stair (1962-1975), new authors included James Baldwin, Kenneth Clark, André Gorz, Herbert Marcuse, Jürgen Habermas, Howard Zinn, Ben Bagdikian, Mary Daly, and Jean Baker Miller. Wendy Strothman became Beacon's director in 1983; she set up the organization's first advisory board, a group of scholars and publishing professionals who advised on book choices and direction. She turned a budget deficit into a surplus. In 1995, her last year at Beacon, Strothman summarized the Press's mission: "We at Beacon publish the books we choose because they share a moral vision and a sense that greater understanding can influence the course of events. They are books we believe in."[2] Strothman was replaced by Helene Atwan in 1995.

In 1971, it published the "Senator Gravel edition" of The Pentagon Papers for the first time in book form, when no other publisher was willing to risk publishing such controversial material. Robert West, then-president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, approved the decision to publish the The Pentagon Papers, which West claims resulted in two-and-a-half years of harassment and intimidation by the Nixon administration.[3] In Gravel v. United States, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution's "Speech or Debate Clause" protected Gravel and some acts of his aide, but not Beacon Press.

Beacon Press seeks to publish works that "affirm and promote" several principles:

the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; acceptance of one another; a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in society; the goal of the world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; respect for the interdependent web of all existence; and the importance of literature and the arts in democratic life.

Beacon Press is a member of the Association of American University Presses.[4]

Books and authors

Beacon Press building, Beacon Hill, Boston, 2010

Beacon Press publishes non-fiction, fiction, and poetry titles. Some of Beacon's most well-known titles are listed below.

Title Author(s)
Notes of a Native Son[5] James Baldwin
Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun[6] Geoffrey Canada
Gyn/Ecology[7] Mary Daly
The Power of Their Ideas[8] Deborah Meier
Man's Search for Meaning[9] Viktor Frankl
Without a Map[10] Meredith Hall
Resurrecting Empire[11] Rashid Khalidi

American Freedom and Catholic Power. Paul Blansahrd. 1948. Revised 2nd edition 1958.

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie[12] Michael Patrick MacDonald
One-Dimensional Man[13] Herbert Marcuse
Thirst[14] Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems: Volume One[15] Mary Oliver
Race Matters[16] Cornel West
The Court and the Cross[17] Frederick Lane

The King Legacy Series

In 2009, Beacon Press announced a new partnership with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. for a new publishing program, "The King Legacy."[18] As part of the program, Beacon is printing new editions of previously published King titles and compile Dr. King's writings, sermons, orations, lectures, and prayers into entirely new editions, including new introductions by leading scholars.

Beacon Broadside

Beacon Press launched its blog, Beacon Broadside, in late September 2007.[19]


In 1992, Beacon won a New England Book Award for publishing.[20] In 1993, Beacon was voted "Trade Publisher of the Year" by the Literary Market Place.[21]

See also

  • Skinner House Books, another book publisher of the UUA, specializing in books for Unitarian Universalists


  1. "Beacon Press Celebrates 150 Years of Publishing". UU World: The Magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association. September–October 2004. Retrieved 2007-09-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Wilson, (2004) p 209
  4. "Association of American University Presses Membership Directory". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-26. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Baldwin, James (July 9, 1984). Notes of a Native Son. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6431-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Canada, Geoffrey (January 31, 1995). Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-0423-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Daly, Mary (November 12, 1990). Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-1413-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Meier, Deborah (November 12, 1995). The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-3113-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Frankl, Viktor (June 14, 2006). Man's Search for Meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-1429-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Hall, Meredith (April 11, 2007). Without a Map. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-7273-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Khalidi, Rashid (April 15, 2005). Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-0235-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. MacDonald, Michael Patrick (October 4, 2007). All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-7213-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Marcuse, Herbert (October 1, 1991). One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-1417-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Oliver, Mary (September 2, 2007). Thirst. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6897-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Oliver, Mary (November 15, 2005). New and Selected Poems: Volume One. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6878-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. West, Cornel (May 25, 2001). Race Matters. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-0972-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Lane, Frederick S. (June 1, 2008). The Court and the Cross. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. pp. 288 pages. ISBN 978-0-8070-4424-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Beacon Press to reissue Martin Luther King Jr.'s books". UU World blog. June 1, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Philocrites: Beacon Press launches 'Beacon Broadside' blog
  20. "New England Book Awards". Archived from the original on 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2007-09-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. History and Mission

Further reading

  • Wilson, Susan. "Beacon's Modern Era: 1945-2003," Journal of Scholarly Publishing (2004) 35#4 pp 200–209 online

External links