Robert Gottlieb, Acclaimed Literary Editor Who Launched Career With ‘Catch-22,’ Dies at 92

His daughter, Lizzie, memorialized his relationship with LBJ biographer Robert Caro in the 2022 documentary “Turn Every Page”

robert gottlieb
"Turn Every Page" (Sony Pictures Classics)

Famed literary editor Robert Gottlieb, former Simon & Schuster editor-in-chief and editor of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved,” has died at the age of 92. 

The writer died of natural causes at a New York hospital on Wednesday, and his death was announced by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The New Yorker, where Gottlieb also previously served as editor-in-chief, shared the news of his death via Twitter, posting an article that details his life and impact. 

Gottlieb was born April 29, 1931, and was raised in the Manhattan borough of New York City. He graduated from Columbia University in 1952 before attending Cambridge University in the U.K for two years.

Three years later, Gottlieb joined publishing company Simon and Schuster working as an editorial assistant for Jack Goodman, then-editor-in-chief. While there he edited Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22,” making a notable statement when he suggested the number 22 instead of 18 due to the publishing of Leon Uris’s “Mila 18.”

In 1968, Gottlieb moved to Alfred A. Knopf as editor-in-chief, and he eventually was promoted to company’s president. He left Alfred A. Knopf in 1987 to take over William Shawn’s position as editor of The New Yorker and remained in the role until 1992. He went back to Alfred A. Knopf as editor ex officio.

Gottlieb’s notable clients include Toni Morrison, Bill Clinton, Katherine Hepburn, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Len Deighton and more. Gottlieb’s relationship with LBJ biographer Robert Caro was memorialized by his daughter Lizzie in the 2022 documentary “Turn Every Page.” He leaves behind his daughter and his wife, Maria Tucci.