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John W. Beecroft Collection: Biographical Note

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Jim Dan Hill Library Special Collections
University of Wisconsin-Superior
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John W. Beecroft

John W. Beecroft was born June 22, 1902 in Superior, WI. He died on Sept. 21, 1966. Beecroft graduated from the Wisconsin Normal school at Superior in 1921. He graduated Columbia U, 1924. Beecroft first worked for Crowell Publishing Co, writing reader's guides to Eliot's Five Foot Shelf of Books. In 1926 he traveled Europe to study architecture (primarily in Italy), returning to New York in 1928. He was hired at the Literary Guild (founded 1927), where he first began as editor of Wings, the monthly bulletin of the book club. He left the Guild briefly during the depression, working for Paramount Newsreel. Beecroft rejoined the Literary Guild in 1937 as Editor in Chief, a position he retained until his retirement in 1962. He selected such best sellers as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird. Beecroft's first choice at the Literary Guild was Liam O'Flaherty's Famine.  

Beecroft was also editor of the Book League of America; the Doubleday Dollar Book Club; the Family Reading Club; and the Mystery Guild. Beecroft authored and edited a number of works, including: Mr Maugham Himself; Stories to Remember (with T.B. Costain); Kipling, A Selection of His Stories & Poems; The Gentleman from Indianapolis; A Treasury of Great Mysteries (with Howard Haycraft); Plain & Fancy Cats; Rocco Came In; and What? Another Cat! (illus. by Kurt Wiese); More Stories to Remember (with T.B. Costain); Best Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham; and The Modern Reader, which was reprinted in 1941 as The Modern Reader's Anthology.  

John Beecroft married Melinda Pollen Schmidt in 1940. He was a member of the University Club in New York. He served on the American Council of Books in Wartime with Virginia Kirkus, Amy Loveman, Donald Gordon, Francis Ludlow, Meridith Wood and WW Norton, and acted as American judge of the international committee, All-Nations Prize Novel Competition, 1938-1939. Mr. Beecroft returned to Superior to give the commencement address at Superior State Teachers College in 1947.