The Authors Guild mourns the loss of A.E. Hotchner, a member since 1950 and past board-member of the Authors Guild Foundation, who passed away on February 15, 2020 at the age of 102. It is difficult to summarize Mr. Hotchner's contributions to American arts and letters, and even more difficult to estimate his loss to our community.
Mr. Hotchner was born in 1917 in St. Louis, Missouri. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. For a brief period before World War II, Mr. Hotchner practiced law before joining the Air Force. After the war, Mr. Hotchner settled in New York City, where he took an editorial position at Cosmopolitan, which led to his lifelong friendship with Ernest Hemingway that Mr. Hotchner memorialized in his 1966 biography of the author Papa Hemingway.
During a career spanning more than 70 years, Mr. Hotchner authored 20 books, which include novels, memoirs, biographies, and profiles of celebrities whose ambit Mr. Hotchner occupied and whose friendships he celebrated. His 1972 memoir of growing up in St. Louis during the Great Depression, King of the Hill, was adapted into an eponymous film by Steven Soderbergh in 1993. A creative polymath, Mr. Hotchner also wrote for theater and television. In 1982, together with friend and neighbor, Paul Newman, Mr. Hotchner co-founded Newman's Own Inc., a food-brand with the mission of funding charitable and educational programs. Over the years, Newman's Own has donated over $550 million in profits to arts and social causes, including supporting The Authors Guild.
Mr. Hotchner was a literary citizen par excellence whose contributions on and off the page cannot be replaced.