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Helen Honig Meyer, 95; Pioneering Publisher Headed Dell for Decades

April 27, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Helen Honig Meyer, 95, one of the first women to break the gender barrier in American book publishing and head a major house, died Monday in Livingston, N.J. The cause of death was not reported.

Meyer served as president and chief executive of Dell Publishing from the early 1950s until 1976, when the firm was sold to Doubleday & Co.

She continued to work as a consultant until her contract ended in 1982. She then became a literary agent, representing authors such as James Clavell.

Born in Brooklyn, Meyer attended public schools in New York City and began working for George T. Delacorte Jr., the founder of Dell, in 1923.

Among the lucrative ideas she pushed through were a line of comic books featuring Mickey Mouse and the whole cast of Disney characters, as well as Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny.

She later led Dell into hardback publishing with Delacorte Press as a way to provide a steady stream of material for the paperback division.

Authors who signed with Dell during her tenure included Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin, James Jones, Irwin Shaw and Clavell.

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