Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper’s and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.
Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.
He encouraged writers to craft each review as a vigorous intellectual argument, and delighted in pairing reviewers with books that challenged their personal or political worldview.
Silvers was loath to give interviews, and sought no measure of the fame in which his writers often basked, though he was renowned within New York literary circles.
When he had a pacemaker installed in 2011, there was widespread speculation that he might step down as editor of the publication. (His co-editor Epstein had died in 2006.) But he continued to serve, with the energy and enthusiasm he was known for, often working late into the night — or sleeping at the office.
Silver’s longtime companion, Grace, Countess of Dudley, died in December of last year. He is survived by several nieces and nephews.