Speaking at a memorial service yesterday for Alfred A. Knopf, the publisher who died last Saturday at the age of 91, John Hersey, who wrote ”A Bell for Adano,” ”Hiroshima” and other Knopf books, said:
”When all scores are settled, it will be written that Alfred Knopf was the greatest publisher this country ever had. A publisher lives by his list. Let us celebrate, as Alfred Knopf’s most fitting memorial, this astonishing roster of his authors.”
Noting that it was a partial list, Mr. Hersey reeled off dozens of names, including W. H. Hudson, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann, E. M. Forster, Max Beerbohm, Somerset Maugham, Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Albert Camus, Dashiell Hammett, H. L. Mencken, Jorge Amado, Yasunari Kawabata, James Baldwin, William Maxwell, John Updike and Helen Hedrick (the novelist that Mr. Knopf married in 1967, a year after his first wife, Blanche, died). A Nonreligious Service.
New York literary and publishing figures – including friends and authors, and authors who became friends – arrived at the Campbell Funeral Home at Madison Avenue and 81st Street on a warm summer’s day from vacation resorts and as far away as Idaho to pay tribute to the publisher’s memory.
About 250 people attended the simple nonreligious service where they heard Mr. Hersey and Alfred (Pat) Knopf Jr., chairman of Atheneum Publishers, recall his father’s gifts, foibles and the thousands of books and authors published under the Knopf imprint.
Mr. Knopf called his father ”a man of conviction, loyalty, integrity and principle – a class act.” And he read a letter from Willa Cather to his father in 1932, after the death of the late publisher’s father, in which Miss Cather paid tribute to both father and son, calling them men of strength and principle.
Among the authors who sat in the rows of hard seats and lined the walls of the small chapel were John Updike, Alfred Kazin, Alistair Cooke, Barbara Tuchman and Alvin Josephy Jr. Editors and publishers present from Random House (of which Knopf is a division) included Robert Bernstein, S. I. Newhouse, Robert Gottlieb, Anthony Schulte, Jason Epstein and Robert Wyatt. Haydn Quartet Played
A dozen publishers from some of the major houses in New York attended, including Roger Straus Jr., Robert Giroux, Lawrence Hughes, Jeremiah Kaplan, Oscar Dystel, John Sargent, Arthur Wang, Walter Meade and Thomas Guinzberg. Among friends were Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, William Koshland and Donald Klopfer.
The service ended with four graduates of the Juilliard School of Music playing the Haydn Quartet, Opus 76, No. 5, which Mr. Knopf, who was always in command of his destiny, specifically requested be played at his memorial service.