Joan Bingham, Catalyst in a Publishing Merger, Dies at 85

Joan Bingham, who performed a key position in a merger that created the Grove Atlantic publishing home, then served nearly three a long time as its govt editor, buying and producing quite a few prestigious titles, together with Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss” and collections by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Kay Ryan, died on Saturday at her house in Manhattan. She was 85.

Her son-in-law, Joseph G. Finnerty III, stated the trigger was pneumonia.

Ms. Bingham had already skilled glamour, accomplishment and tragedy when she helped discovered Grove Atlantic, which was shaped in 1993 by the merger of Grove Weidenfeld and the Atlantic Monthly Press.

She had married into the rich Bingham household, whose media holdings included the Kentucky newspapers The Louisville Times and The Courier-Journal, additionally in Louisville. Her husband, Robert Worth Bingham III, was regarded as destined for a distinguished position in the household enterprise, however he was killed in a freak accident in 1966.

After that, Ms. Bingham made her personal mark. In 1984 she was the founding writer of The Washington Weekly, a spunky however short-lived publication that lined politics and tradition in the nation’s capital. Later she edited a publication on economics in Paris.

And there was a lot of poetry. Ms. Bingham helped create and oversaw the Grove Press Poetry Series. Among its first offerings was “Elephant Rocks” by Kay Ryan, an interesting voice because, as Mr. Entrekin noted, she was “an outlier,” not part of the strain of poets from academia.

With Ms. Bingham championing her work, Ms. Ryan became prominent enough that, in 2008, she was named poet laureate of the United States. Her 2010 collection, “The Best of It: New and Selected Poems,” won the Pulitzer Prize.

Joan Williamson Stevens was born on March 5, 1935, in Steubenville, Ohio. Her father, Edward, was chief executive of United Oil Company in Pittsburgh, and her mother, Helen Williamson Stevens, was a homemaker.

Joan Stevens grew up in Sewickley, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, and graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut in 1953. Four years later she graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in art history.

She was studying at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco when, during a summer session at Harvard University, she met Mr. Bingham. They married in 1960.

Mr. Bingham enjoyed outdoor activities. In July 1966 the family was vacationing in Nantucket, Mass., and Mr. Bingham hoped to do some surfing. Fitting the surfboard into their rented car required rolling down the windows and laying the board crosswise in the vehicle, the ends protruding out the windows on either side. With Mr. Bingham driving, one end of the board clipped a park car, causing it to pivot, whipping the board into Mr. Bingham’s neck and killing him.

Ms. Bingham remained a director of the family company (which sold its media holdings in 1986) but settled in Manhattan and Washington. Once she entered the book-publishing field, her homes in both cities, with their walls of bookcases, became frequent stops for those in the business.

“She was the irrepressible host of hundreds of dinners for Grove’s authors, booksellers and international publishers,” Elisabeth Schmitz, editorial director at Grove Atlantic and a colleague for a quarter-century, said by email.

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