Storer Boardman Lunt was born on July 8th, 1897 in Portland, Maine. Lunt lived a relatively quiet and modest personal life. At the age of 21, he briefly joined the army in World War I in field artillery. He later studied at Yale University, becoming a member of the Skull and Bones society, an exclusive and secretive group of Yale students who are chosen for their leadership skills and likeliness to succeed (Samuelson). He then went on to do graduate work at Cambridge University. He met his wife, Margaret Knox McElderry, the founder of Margeret K. McElderry Books which is a subdivision of Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Division (Hearne 771), through Anne Carroll Moore, the best friend and distant cousin of his mother. Moore was the director of children’s services at the New York Public Library and McElderry became Moore’s assistant early in her publishing career (Hearne 757). Lunt and McElderry were married in December of 1967 in Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, England and had no offspring.
Lunt’s accomplishments in publishing were mostly achieved during his time with W.W. Norton and Company. Lunt joined Norton as a sales manager in 1930. After founder William Warder Norton’s death in 1945, the future of the company was uncertain until Herter Norton, William Norton’s wife, decided to change the structure of the company such that it was almost entirely employee-owned. She gave most of her stake in the company to her top editors and managers and Lunt became the first president of Norton under this new system. He was largely responsible for the decision to make Norton employee-owned which effectively saved the company from potential demise. Lunt eventually took over as chairman of the board of Norton as well. Under his term from 1945-1964, Norton’s publishing program underwent a period of revitalization and expansion, carrying the firm out of financial hardships from the Second World War and into a period of prosperity (Pederson 519).
Lunt had built relationships with many notable figures in the literary world through his work at Norton, including Barbara Ward, an economics writer, R. K. Narayan, a leading figure in Anglo-Indian literature, and Chiang Yee, a Chinese exile who wrote dozens of books on Chinese art. Donald Lamm, a former president and chairman of Norton, suggests in an interview that Lunt also visited Leonard and Virginia Woolf to discuss their respective publishing agreements with Sigmund Freud, as Hogarth Press had recently published The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Kreisler). Passenger lists support this claim as Lunt is documented to have visited England from July 23rd to August 23rd, 1938. Although he is not directly mentioned in Virginia Woolf’s letters or diaries, an entry in her diary on July 26th 1938 states that she had met with many people in the previous two weeks: “It’s very true that I have no time. I have simply dedicated the last fortnight to people- seeing people- not a day free from it. Always an engagement” (Woolf 434). It is possible that Lunt had been among the people she had visited as this entry was written three days following his arrival in England.
Paul Henry Lang, a music critic for whom Lunt was a publisher, commented in Lunt’s obituary in the New York Times that the relationships he built with the authors with whom he worked were exceptionally strong, and he was sought out for issues involving publishing as well as considered notably approachable for advice about personal life. George P. Brockway, a former chairman of Norton, also commented in his obituary that when Lunt traveled across the country for business, he carried a notebook in which he would write the names of bookstores and friends that he needed to visit. It was behaviours such as these that proved his dedication to his work and allowed him to forge positive relationships with the many people he encountered in the field.
Lunt set many precedents in the literary world outside of Norton. He was a president of the American Book Publishers Council and later orchestrated its successful amalgamation with the Association of American Publishers. He was also the first American to be elected president of the International Publishers Association. Lunt died in Fall River, Massachusetts on September 10th, 1977, leaving a legacy of professional success and amiability in his personal affairs.
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Samuelson, Eric. “Yale’s Skull & Bones Society Members to 2006”, http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/bones.htm. Accessed 1 Feb 2018.
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