Lyle Stuart

On this date in 1922, book publisher Lyle Stuart (né Lionel Simon) was born in New York City. When Stuart was 6, his father, a salesman, committed suicide. After dropping out of high school, he joined the Merchant Marine and changed his name in response to the anti-Semitism he encountered. Forging a career in journalism in the 1940s and ’50s, Stuart gained moderate notoriety after a bitter dispute with columnist Walter Winchell, a fight that escalated to a libel suit that was decided in Stuart’s favor. With the money he won he started Lyle Stuart Inc., which later became Barricade Books.

As a publisher in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Stuart became a millionaire by selling titles like Naked Came the Stranger (1969), The Sensuous Woman (1969), The Anarchist Cookbook (1970) and Jackie Oh! (1978). A 1997 libel suit forced Barricade Books into bankruptcy but the decision was later reversed.

Throughout his life he maintained his muckraking, anti-establishment roots. He published L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? in 1987, a biography of the founder of Scientology. As reported by an open letter he wrote to The New York Times, Stuart used all of the profits to “help fight this cult and the other cult exploiters of the innocent, the naive and the idealistic.” His decision in 1997 to republish the racist novel The Turner Diaries was very controversial. In the introduction, he wrote that he strongly opposed the book’s views but saw it as a First Amendment issue.

Barricade published Warren Allen Smith’s 1,237-page compendium Who’s Who in Hell: A Handbook and International Directory for Humanists, Freethinkers, Naturalists, Rationalists and Non-Theists in 2000.

Stuart married at age 22 to Mary Louise Stuart, who died of cancer in 1969. In 1982 he married his secretary Carole Livingston Stuart, with whom he lived until his death at age 83 in 2006.

Freedom From Religion Foundation