Kurt Wolff founded Pantheon Books Inc. in February 1942 along with his wife Helen and his partner Jacques Schiffrin. Several shareholders helped financing the company. They started in a one-room office in lower Manhattan before moving to a small office on 6th Avenue. Pantheon Books mainly published twentieth century and classical literature in translation and in bilingual editions as well as French literature. Jacques Schiffrin died in 1950. In 1960, the Wolffs left the company and in 1961 it was sold to Random House. Jacques Schiffrin’s son Andre Schiffrin was hired as executive editor of Pantheon Books.
In Germany Wolff had been a silent partner of the Ernst Rowohlt Verlag since 1910 and took it over later. He renamed it to Kurt Wolff Verlag in 1913. In the following years, he took over and founded various publishing houses. For more than 20 years Kurt Wolff published first-time experimental work by a roster of extraordinary writers including George Heym, Franz Kafka, Karl Kraus, Joseph Roth, Georg Trakl, and Robert Walser. As the Kurt Wolff Verlag had financial problems at the end of the 1920s, Wolff sold all of his other publishing houses in order to save it. The Kurt Wolff Verlag eventually closed in 1930. In March 1933 he immigrated to France, where he lived near Nice with his family. After being imprisoned twice, he and his family fled to the USA in 1941.
- Fischer, Ernst: Verleger, Buchhaendler und Antiquare aus Deutschland und Oesterreich in der Emigration nach 1933: ein biographisches Handbuch / von Ernst Fischer. - Stuttgart : Verband Deutscher Antiquare, 2011
- Pantheon Books About (2012) http://knopfdoubleday.com/about/
- Goethe-Institut USA. About Helen and Kurt Wolff (2012) http://www.goethe.de/ins/us/lp/prj/wol/khw/enindex.htm
- Detjen, Marion (2012): Kurt Wolff (1887-1963) http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=83