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In Memoriam: Drue Heinz

Aprile 11, 2018

Drue Heinz, a spirited philanthropist for literature and the arts, died on March 30, 2018, in Lasswade, Scotland. She was 103 years old. A Trustee of the American Academy of Rome from 2001 to 2004, she endowed the Drue Heinz Librarian, currently held by Sebastian Hierl, and the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize in Literature.

Born in Great Britain, Doreen Mary English—who preferred to be called Drue—married Henry J. Heinz II, the head of H. J. Heinz Company, in 1953. Heinz’s activities embrace all the arts. Her interests were most concentrated in the visual arts, in architecture as an art form, and in contemporary writing (both prose and poetry). Drue Heinz was a member of the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, the MacDowell Colony, the American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust, and the Pierpont Morgan Library. A voracious reader, Heinz founded Ecco Press in 1971 and was its publisher until 1992. (Ecco is now a HarperCollins imprint.) She showed an early interest in Antaeus, a quarterly literary journal founded by Daniel Halpern and Paul Bowles, and supported it for many years. In the 1980s, she restored Hawthornden Castle, just outside Edinburgh, and turned it into a retreat for writers. In 1993 she became the publisher of the Paris Review, working with the editor George Plimpton. Heinz retired in 2008.

In 1980 she established the Drue Heinz Literature Prize at the University of Pittsburgh Press, a prestigious literary award given for short fiction. In memory of her late husband, she created the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art, which established permanent facilities devoted to the study, exhibition, and exploration of international architecture.

Heinz served as a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and was a founding council member of Rothermere American Institute, where she endowed the Drue Heinz Professorship in American Literature at St. John’s College at the University of Oxford. As a member of the London Library, she created an endowment to develop its literary collections. In 1983 she became the founder and president of the Hawthornden Literary Institute, which awards the Hawthornden Prize for Literature. In 1995, Heinz was named an Honorary Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. In 2002, she was designated a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

To learn more about Drue Heinz, see Marylynne Pitz’s obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Richard Sandomir’s memorial in the New York Times.