Made in America

Gordon Dorrance: A Visionary of Hope


Gordon Dorrance, a member of the Main Line Philadelphia family that owned Campbell’s Soup Company, created a better to way to publish in the early 1900’s. His journey began like many other authors, with a great sense of frustration from rejection.

While in the process of editing his first manuscript, The Pocket Chesterfield, he found himself at a creative crossroads with the publishing company, Scribner’s. Gordon Dorrance had a difficult decision to make – either sacrifice his creative vision and cower to the publishing company, or save face and go at it alone. To the benefit of many today, Gordon Dorrance chose to go at it alone, and found a better way to publish.

In the spirit of American entrepreneurism, Gordon Dorrance opened his own publishing company. In 1920, he was able to publish his own book under the Dorrance imprint. Dorrance’s brave move to go on his own changed the publishing world forever. He went against the grain and gave hope to people everywhere. Aspiring authors were no longer held by the whims of the select few publishers who held the keys to the literary kingdom, deciding who will, and who will not, pass. Rather, Gordon Dorrance brought hope.

Over the next several decades, the Dorrance Publishing Company would build a reputation of trust, publishing a multitude of genres. Poets found their voice. Soldiers shared their valor. History was kept honest as more and more autobiographies found themselves bound in leather, and readily available. Now, the everyday man or woman could share their story, and have it for future generations to enjoy.

Dorrance Publishing itself found its way into literary history with work such as The Bonapartes in America, which was published in 1939. In 1955, Dorrance published a volume of poetry titled Ommateum by A.R. Ammons. This publication catapulted Ammons’ career, and he went on to win the National Book Award in 1972 and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award in 1981.

Thanks to Gordon Dorrance’s pioneering spirit and that light bulb moment that he had more than 90 years ago, Dorrance Publishing continues to illuminate the path for people “with a book in them” to fulfill their dreams.


* Actor portrayal

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