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founding University Place Book Shop, co-founding Dissent
Dr. Abraham Goldwater
Walter Goldwater (1907-1985) was the antiquarian who worked briefly at International Publishers before founding University Place Book Shop in Manhattan, part of "Book Row." He was also a co-founder and publisher of Dissent magazine and a noted tournament chess player.
In 1931, Goldwater and his wife Ethel, who had joined him in studying Russian, traveled to Moscow, USSR. There, they helped set up the Cooperative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers. Both then worked there as translators and editors. Goldwater was a critic of Stalin, which landed him in trouble with authorities, after which the Goldwater's returned to New York in early 1932.
In 1932, Goldwater opened University Place Book Shop on "Book Row" at 821 Broadway at 12th Street (or at 69 University Place) with a loan from his uncle Jack Biblo (of Biblo & Tannen bookstore) of $600 (or his uncle Abe Sugarman). The bookstore specialized in African, African-American, and Caribbean (West Indies) literature as well as used, old, and rare books. Other specialties included chess, Russia, and radicalism.
In 1933, Arthur Spingarn, brother of NAACP founder Joel Spingarn, started a standing order for books by African-American authors.
Goldwater purchased an estimated ten thousand "little magazines" (e.g., Bibelot, Black Cat, Yellow Book, and Philistine) from nearby Pratt bookshop. Over time, he sold these to universities, including Yale University and the University of Connecticut.
In 1954, Goldwater joined Irving Howe and others in founding Dissent magazine. He published the magazine for 15 years.
He collected and wrote about collecting Incunabula, which he later had auctioned by Swann Galleries before his death.
Personal life and death
Goldwater married Eleanor Lowenstein (died 1980) was also an antiquarian. She ran the Corner Book Shop (102 Fourth Avenue at 11th Street) which specialized in cookbooks. They had two children.
Goldwater was a "formidable" chess player who competed in New York tournaments and also served as president of the Marshall Chess Club in Greenwich Village. He proudly lost to chess champion Bobby Fischer.
In 1993, Goldwater gave a long interview to the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, in which he recounted all the booksellers he had known in his life.
In his will, Goldwater left University Place Book Shop to long-time employee William French, who ran the shop from 1985 to 1988. French had started working at the bookstore in 1960. He left books to the New York Public Library and its Schomberg Center. University Place Book Shop closed in 1995, mostly due to rising costs and a debt of $64,00 0 in unpaid rent. French sold remaining books to New York University.
Radical Periodicals in America, 1890-1950 (1977)
"New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater," Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook (1993)