The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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William Heinemann, 1863-1920

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1863.05.18
Place of Birth: Surbiton
Date of Death: 1920.10.05
Place of Death: London


William Heinemann was a publisher. He was the eldest son of Louis Heinemann of Hanover, who became naturalized in 1856, and his wife, Jane Lavino, from Manchester. Heinemann married Magda Stuart Sindici, an Italian novelist, in February 1899; they were divorced in 1904. His brother Edmund was a financier.


After a cosmopolitan education in both Dresden and London, Heinemann trained in the publishing industry at Messrs Trübner. He set up his own business in 1890, and his association with JW began in June of that year, with the publication of The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. In 1892 JW attempted to get some of Mallarmé's address quatrains published by Heinemann (see #08025). Also in that year, JW was planning with Heinemann to publish a set of lithographs entitled 'Songs on Stone', which they hoped would be popular and profitable. Heinemann also was a collector and bought lithographs by JW from the Fine Art Society in 1895.

After Beatrix Whistler's death in 1896, JW made his home with Heinemann at 4 Whitehall Court for a while. In 1899, JW congratulated Heineman on his engagement to 'the most fair and dainty Donna!' (#08514) and in February that year JW was best man at the wedding in Porto d'Anzio in Italy. JW designed monograms for the Heinemanns which were used on their notepaper (Designs for monograms for William and Magda Heinemann (M.1534)). The Heinemanns were extremely hospitable and in 1900 JW stayed with them at Norfolk Street, Mayfair on several occasions. In October of that year he painted a portrait of Mrs Heinemann (Portrait of Mrs William Heinemann (YMSM 531)), which he appears to have called the 'bella Mafia'.

In JW's later years, he often travelled with Heinemann. Keen to see his friend properly memorialised, after 'years of badgering', Heinemann proposed W. E. Henley and Charles Whibley to write JW's biography, JW objected to both. He then asked the Pennells and subsequently published their work, Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908.

Heinemann was President of the Publishers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland, 1909–1911 and President of the National Booksellers’ Provident Society, 1913–1920. When he died suddenly in 1920 he was living at 32 Lower Belgrave Street, London. His sale was held at the AAA, New York on 13 January 1922.


Heinemann, William, The Hardships of Publishing, London, 1893; Spink, Nesta R., The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, gen. eds Harriet K. Stratis and Martha Tedeschi, Chicago, 1998, p. 175; St John, John, William Heinemann: a century of publishing 1890-1990, London, 1990; Whyte, Frederic, William Heinemann: A Memoir, London, 1928; Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, on-line edition (accessed 2004).