Life After Bill Freeman

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[Tracing Linus Pauling’s association with the W.H. Freeman & Co. publishing house. This is post 7 of 8.]

In the years immediately following Bill Freeman’s departure from the company that he founded, Stanley Schaefer ran W.H. Freeman & Co. quite smoothly. In 1969, Bill Kaufman took over as president with Schaefer staying on as chairman, and Kaufman also did well. Notably, he played a key role in the release of revised editions of Linus Pauling’s General Chemistry and College Chemistry, and by the end of his first year in charge, Schaefer was able to report that the company had grown. As the onset of the 1970s loomed, Freeman & Co. had published fourteen new books and added seventy-two titles to its Scientific American offprint series. The outlook for the next fiscal year seemed bright.


The connection with Scientific American was especially important, as the company had formally merged with the publication in 1964. Of this change Schaefer remarked,

Now united are the forces of two successful, non-competitive publishers who have outstanding reputations for high standards and excellence in scientific publishing. Each is making distinctive contributions to the new alliance. I mention, for example, the significant new source of authors for Freeman books that is now available to us.

Illustrator Roger Hayward, who had spent years working for both Freeman and Scientific American, expressed surprise at this news, but congratulated both parties and noted that the transition seemed to him a “happy circumstance.”

That same year, Pauling and Hayward began collaborating on The Architecture of Molecules, originally titled Molecular Architecture but renamed by Pauling just prior to its release. A stunning and unique collision of science and art, the book was successful right away and continued to do well for years afterward. Both collaborators received 15% royalties for the first 10,000 copies sold in cloth, 18% for every cloth-bound copy sold beyond the initial 10,000, and 10% for the paperback editions.


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C.B. Van Niel

Despite his earlier claim that he would not feel confident in the company without Freeman directing it, Pauling continued to maintain a positive and productive relationship with his long-time publisher. In one particular instance, Pauling played an instrumental role in smoothing tensions caused by an unflattering review of a Freeman text. The review in question was authored by microbiologist C.B. Van Niel, whose highly critical assessment of Wayne W. Umbreit’s Modern Microbiology appeared in the widely read magazine, Science.

Prior to the review appearing in print, Van Niel had sent a letter to Bill Freeman warning him that the review would not be favorable, but Freeman had left the company by this point. His replacement, Stan Schaefer, didn’t see the review until it had been published. Once he saw the Science piece, Schaefer responded personally to Van Niel, writing that the criticisms had hit sales hard. Schaefer further speculated that Van Niel harbored a personal grudge against Umbreit and that this was the real source of the animus permeating the review.

It was at this point that Pauling came to Schaefer’s aid. He informed Van Niel that he personally had not found the book to be nearly as flawed as the review claimed and accused his correspondent of “malicious mischief,” stating that most of the errors that he attacked were simple and relatively common across publications.

Without waiting for Van Niel’s response, Pauling then wrote to Phil Abelson, the editor of Science, asking him to redact the review because it was disrespectful, incorrect, took sentences out of context, and was overly aggressive in tone. Seeing Pauling come to Umbreit’s defense, many other professionals in biology and bacteriology spoke out against the review, criticizing its focus on minor errors. More importantly, many within this group also chose to adopt the text despite its flaws.

To stave off future conflicts of this sort, Schaefer requested that, as a courtesy, drafts of reviews be sent to Freeman & Co. before publication, so that the company could prepare if the analysis was unfavorable. Pauling also asked Van Niel for his own annotated copy of the Umbreit text so that Umbreit could use it in his revision process.


When Stanley Schaefer promoted Bill Kaufman to president in 1969, he assumed the position of chairman, a post that had previously been occupied by Freeman himself. Kaufman opted for early retirement in 1971, reporting to Pauling that the timing felt opportune because the “fame” of the company was at an all-time high. He was also confident in the competence of the staff and its collective motivation to ensure the continued success of the company.

Pauling was also feeling bullish about the company’s prospects — so much so that he finally brought up an issue that had been troubling him for some time. Contractual modifications that Bill Freeman had instituted for the second edition of College Chemistry — modifications that lowered Pauling’s royalty rate — were presented as temporary changes needed to help grow the young company financially. When it was suggested, Pauling saw no problem with the change, so long as it was temporary. But, as far as he could see, the lower royalty rate had been applied to the third edition of College Chemistry as well, and Pauling came to feel that he was being taken advantage of. In a letter to Stan Schaefer he expressed his feeling that the agreement, as it was being continued, “might be said to have been obtained by fraudulent methods, involving statements to me that I think were untrue or at least misleading about the financial situation of the Company.”

Schaefer checked the royalty statements and concluded that Pauling was correct in his assessment. After apologizing and thanking Pauling for bringing the matter to his attention, he then set about calculating the difference between the royalties Pauling had received and the royalties that should have dispensed. Once done, Schaefer assured Pauling that the company would pay him $5,000 owed for the second edition of College Chemistry and $7,400 for the third. Pauling thanked Shaefer for his straight dealing and then requested that the company pay him interest at the rate of 7% on these remittances because they were late.

Freeman, Cooper and Co.

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[An exploration of William H. Freeman and the publishing firms that he founded. This is part 6 of 8 and focuses on Roger Hayward’s interactions with Freeman, Cooper & Co.]

Despite the disappointing end to his involvement with the company that he had founded, Bill Freeman worked in the publishing industry for the rest of his life. Post Freeman & Co., he stayed with his new employer, Addison-Wesley, long enough to regain a sense of confidence. With his wife Margaret, he then set about establishing his second independent press: Freeman, Cooper & Company, a name that once again incorporated the Freeman brand, but now also included Margaret’s maiden name.

Rather than limiting the scope of their new firm to a specific discipline as Freeman had done in the past, Freeman, Cooper & Co. published books on a wide range of subjects. While Bill Freeman was still primarily interested in publishing textbooks, he shied away from entering into direct competition with his previous company. As a result, his new venture published books for academic use that were not, strictly speaking, textbooks. And while science remained a key area for the publisher, other areas including psychology and philosophy also began to populate the catalog.


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Roger Hayward, ca. 1960s

Though Freeman relished the fresh start, he still recognized the value of retaining past connections. Key among these connections was illustrator and close friend Roger Hayward, whom Freeman approached with a few project ideas in 1971. The first of these ideas was a book that he hoped Hayward would write on “the simpler and fundamental geometry of nature,” intended for use by both introductory and advanced students. He also proposed that Hayward illustrate a different book on crystallography for chemists, and a third book focusing on the chemical elements.

Hayward expressed interest in these projects, as long as Freeman could pay him royalties. Freeman agreed, but warned that the royalties might be small because the audience for each project was likely to be rather specialized. For Hayward, this was a risk worth taking, given that his royalty income from other projects was robust enough to absorb a potentially low payout from these new ventures. Having arrived at this understanding, Freeman’s only additional request of Hayward was that he not complete illustrations for any rival publishers. This was also an easy request to fulfill as Freeman, Cooper & Co. were engaged in direct competition with only a few other firms.

Their agreement in place, Hayward set to work on new illustrations and an early draft for his geometry of nature book, contacting Freeman regularly to keep him apprised of his progress. By this point in his career, Freeman no longer held his authors to strict deadlines, so long as they did a good job of staying in touch. In their exchange of letters, Freeman provided gentle guidance to Hayward as he developed his text. When Hayward broached the idea of including anecdotes from his personal life in the book, Freeman expressed reluctance. And while he ended up telling Hayward to proceed, he advised caution: too much autobiography could harm an author’s academic authority, he felt, though the right amount of personal narrative could work to forge a deeper connection with students.


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Drawing of a Cooper Structure as published by Ruth Walker in October 1973.

Once Freeman had piqued Hayward’s interest with these smaller projects, he unveiled the idea that he was most excited about, an organic chemistry manuscript by Ruth Walker, a chemist at Hunter College. Hayward enthusiastically agreed to provide illustrations for the text, but soon became enmeshed in a familiar set of struggles: when Walker raised concerns about Hayward’s initial drafts, the illustrator refused to make changes.

Most of Walker’s concerns were over small or superficial details in the illustrations, but a particularly contentious debate ultimately led to a significant advancement. As part of his portfolio for the Walker project, Hayward had created a paper model of a tetrahedron that was designed for students to tear out and construct into own molecule. While on board with the idea, Walker claimed that the instructions that Hayward had written were inaccurate and that the overall design was ineffective.

Unable to resolve the debate themselves, Walker and Hayward brought the matter to Freeman. The publisher was intrigued by Hayward’s unique design, but agreed with Walker that it would be difficult for students to follow the instructions that Hayward had provided. As a means of clarification, Freeman suggested a minor modification – the addition of dotted lines to indicate the direction in which students should bend the model. He also promised Hayward that he would collect more authoritative opinions from accomplished chemists and reconvene with him before the publication of the text.

Several of the chemists that Freeman contacted agreed that Hayward’s model was unique and had potential as a teaching tool. When Freeman relayed this feedback to Hayward, the illustrator immediately took steps to patent his design. Freeman assured him that the copyright protecting the material in the book would be sufficient for this purpose as well.


Hayward's-letter

Once it was established that Hayward and, to some extent, Freeman had created something new, Freeman’s associates in the scientific world went about naming the structure. They eventually settled on the Cooper Structure, an obvious source of frustration for Roger Hayward. Peeved, he crafted a short memo to Freeman that was written in the large, bold typeface that he had adopted as a result of worsening eyesight. “For goodness’ sakes,” it read, “What’s wrong with the Hayward Structure?”

Freeman replied that the Hayward Structure was actually the first name that had been proposed, but that the group of scientists couldn’t arrive at a consensus. Some other names they tried included the Freeman Structure, a hopper crystal, a starved tetrahedron (because of the model’s concave sides), an inverted dodecahedron, an instellated polyhedron, a Texas Tetrahedron, and a Cooper Crystal. The Cooper Structure was the name that everyone ultimately agreed upon. Hayward belatedly suggested the HFC Form – for Hayward, Freeman, Cooper – but his suggestion was largely ignored.

Changing tactics, Hayward once again began investigating a patent, arguing that  copyright protections simply prevented anyone from publishing the design. Freeman remained sympathetic to Hayward’s feelings, but firm in his resolution that a patent was not necessary. As time moved forward, Hayward sensed that he was losing the fight and that the process had moved beyond him. In fact, because Freeman’s modification is what made the model effective, Ruth Walker gave him credit for the discovery. In a Journal of Chemical Education article, she wrote

A unique model for illustrating the tetrahedral geometry of sp3 bonding is obtained when the pattern in the figure is cut out and assembled…the resulting structure is a tetrahedron with four recessed faces and a central hole, and has been named the Cooper Structure. Each face is recessed in such a way as to produce a model that clearly shows the relative position of four bands extending from the center of a tetrahedron, one towards each apex. This model was designed by William H. Freeman for inclusion in ‘Organic Chemistry: How to Solve It (I. Molecular Geometry)’ by Ruth A. Walker, after Mr. Freeman observed models made by Roger Hayward, the illustrator of the organic workbook published by Freeman, Cooper and Co. in 1972.

Hayward was somewhat placated by the wording of the article, which let him claim a share of the credit for the design. He proceeded to recommence work on his geometry of nature book, but never finished it as his health problems increased in severity.


Meanwhile, Bill Freeman was also experiencing his share of setbacks. Just before the Cooper Structure conundrum arose he was hospitalized for exhaustion, which slowed production considerably and led to a period of prolonged discouragement. In a letter to Hayward, he made reference to “hurdles, disappointments, problems and shenanigans that I dare not put into print.” And for all the fuss that it caused, Ruth Walker’s book, Organic Chemistry – How to Solve It, sold only 11,000 copies.

Over the course of its history, Freeman, Cooper, and Company experienced moderate success, but never achieved the same fame as its predecessor. Many of the authors who had found their niche at W.H. Freeman & Co. remained loyal to the original company even after its namesake had moved on; indeed, with the notable exception of Roger Hayward, Bill Freeman built his new company largely from scratch. He insisted though, that modest successes did not diminish his passion for the independent press. After he passed away in 1992, Margaret took over the firm and ran it smoothly for a few additional years before letting it go to become another piece of publishing history.

Roger Hayward at Freeman & Co.

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Roger Hayward, ca. 1930s.

[An examination of the history of the W.H. Freeman & Co. publishing house as viewed through the lens of Linus Pauling and his colleagues. This is part 2 of 8.]

As Linus Pauling’s chemistry series at W.H. Freeman & Co. moved forward, a third member of the team proved to be of crucial importance: illustrator Roger Hayward.

As we’ve covered previously, Bill Freeman initially employed Hayward to create the illustrations for Pauling’s General Chemistry textbook and, suitably impressed, wound up commissioning him for a number of other projects. Freeman quickly saw that Hayward was an incredibly talented illustrator and the two formed a close friendship that lasted through the years.

Freeman even recruited Hayward to design his new office when the company moved from Market Street. Freeman was colorblind and admitted that he needed help when it came to outfitting a space. In the past, he had relied upon a “Vice-Presidents-in-Charge-of-Decoration” committee made up of several female colleagues, but ultimately decided that Hayward’s insights were a better fit. In particular, Freeman commissioned Hayward to create an illustration meant specifically to hang in his office. Hayward gladly obliged and, a few weeks later, presented Freeman with a large illustration of molecules that – as Freeman’s staff informed him – were a lovely shade of apricot.


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A Hayward illustration used in the first edition of General Chemistry, 1948.

Professionally, Hayward was a fundamental asset to the company, and in more ways than one. For example, when Freeman was courting John D. Strong, then at Johns Hopkins, for a book on optics, Hayward played a crucial role in convincing Strong to sign with the San Francisco firm rather than a larger publishing house on the East Coast. Once secured, Hayward and Strong worked well together, engaging in lively discussions as they collaborated on the manuscript.

As their relationship flourished, Freeman became a strong supporter of Hayward and his work. On one noteworthy occasion in the early 1950s, a textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin came under scrutiny because it contained a number of illustrations that closely resembled those that Hayward had created for use in General Chemistry. Hayward noticed immediately and brought the matter to Freeman’s attention. In his reply, Freeman suggested that

No one can copyright an idea. One can copyright the expression of an idea. This last applies, not only to the use of words…but to illustrations as well.

Believing that Houghton-Mifflin had indeed committed a violation of this type, Freeman became aggressive. In the end, he negotiated a deal with the president of the company stipulating that Houghton-Mifflin would pay a $0.04 royalty fee to Hayward for each copy sold.


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Betty and Roger in 1956.

Hayward’s value was such that Freeman ultimately thought it wise to offer him a contract with the company, rather than enlisting him periodically as a freelancer. While beneficial to the company, this contract also offered the promise of a steady wage and a new era of financial security for Roger and his wife Betty.

The agreement seemed simple on paper. Hayward would continue to receive royalty payments for relevant books published prior to the contract, but for future work, he would receive an annual salary of between $4,500 and $7,500, ($40,000 to $67,000 in today’s dollars) depending on how many hours he logged. And though he would be on salary, Hayward would not be asked to be physically present at the office as long as he kept track of the time that he spent working on projects for the company.

The contract specifications were satisfactory for Hayward, particularly because of the royalties language, as continuation of these payments would insure some degree of income for Betty were Roger to pass away suddenly. Indeed, perhaps the most significant benefit of the contract was the health insurance that the company offered to Hayward, who suffered from asthma. Importantly, the insurance agreement stated that Hayward and his family would receive health benefits during the run of the contract and also for two years after any event that led to his incapacitation or death. The only new requirement of Hayward was that he commit to completing illustrations for the exclusive use of Freeman & Co. and a partner publication, Scientific American magazine.


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Hayward illustration used in Concepts of Classical Optics, by John D. Strong, 1958.

After a period of negotiation, Hayward agreed to terms and, in 1958, began working as a contract employee. His first task was to experiment with alternatives to color printing and texturing. While Freeman knew that color printing might help set his firm apart from its competitors, he worried that the costs were too high. With Hayward, Freeman tinkered with screen tone and half-tone techniques, but neither proved especially successful.

Other professional complications emerged not long after. A year into his contract, Hayward began to feel that he was being treated more as a draftsman than an artist, and was too often compelled to engage in what he described as “uncongenial work.” Freeman was sympathetic to Hayward’s lament, but only to a point:

The boys around here certainly have tried to see that each of us doesn’t have to misuse his talents or have a disproportionate amount of the uncongenial. How in the world could we keep this spirit if we had an exception, one sharing in the perquisites but able to rule (by himself) that he would not do some share of the work because he decided it was uncongenial?

But drudgery wasn’t Hayward’s only concern. Increasingly he felt that authors were overly critical of his illustrations and unwilling to give him the respect that he deserved. As Hayward grew more and more unhappy, Freeman found himself spending a great deal of time mediating. This wasn’t necessarily out of character; he often referred to himself as “Old Man Freeman,” a persona of wisdom and benevolence that he felt he needed to embody as director of the company.

In Hayward’s case however, this persona began to wear thin. Circumstances reached a boiling point when George Pimentel, who published The Hydrogen Bond with Freeman in 1960suggested corrections to drawings that Hayward had provided. Upon learning of these suggestions, the illustrator took immediate offense and refused to complete the project. Freeman intervened to remind Hayward that authors greatly respected his skill as an artist but that his job as a company employee was to take direction from the authors or, at the very least, to negotiate with them. In response, Hayward wrote

I see nothing in that [contract] which commits me to the philosophy that the author or any other person is always right. I certainly would never sign a contract which would require me to satisfy any person or persons who are not a party to that instrument.

Growing impatient, Freeman’s reply was terse

We and our authors are the sole judges of what goes into a book and you legally must abide by that principle or you do not fulfill your part of the bargain with this company.

Suitably chastened, Hayward apologized to both Freeman and Pimentel and resumed illustrating.

With enough of these conflicts however, Freeman saw that a contract was no longer benefiting the authors, the company, or Hayward. Eventually he offered to terminate the agreement and allow Hayward to revert back to freelance status, receiving additional payments on a royalty basis. Hayward accepted and his relationship with the company, as well as his friendship with Freeman, quickly returned to a mutually respectful and co-productive state.

General Chemistry – The Third and Final Edition

[An examination of General Chemistry, published by Linus Pauling seventy years ago. This is part 6 of 7.]

By the time that Linus Pauling was preparing to revise and publish a third edition of General Chemistry, the cast with which he had been working since the 1940s had shifted considerably. For one, publisher William H. Freeman had left Freeman & Co. in 1962, following the company’s merger with Scientific American. His secretary, Margaret Cooper, left the company with him, and the couple subsequently married that same year.

In 1964, the newlyweds started a new publishing house, Freeman, Cooper & Co., where a primary focus on science textbooks expanded to eventually include philosophy texts as well. At the time that he was creating this new company, Freeman, in a letter to illustrator and long-time collaborator Roger Hayward, outlined his sense of the continuing need for independent publishing houses as well as his own continuing interest in being involved with independent ventures of this sort.

Reading between the lines, one might conclude that the idea of associating with a corporation as massive as Scientific American had prompted Freeman to reevaluate his involvement with Freeman & Co. in much the same way that he had reevaluated his career at MacMillan almost twenty years before. Pauling, on the other hand, did not harbor similar misgivings – comfortable in his relationship with Freeman & Co., he opted to continue publishing with the firm even after the departure of his long-time editor and the company’s namesake.


Illustration proposed by Evan Gillespie for use in the third edition of General Chemistry.

Bill Freeman was not the only familiar face to be absented from the third edition; Pauling also chose to shift gears with his visuals. By the end of the 1960s, Roger Hayward’s illustrations no longer seemed satisfactory to Pauling, who wanted to experiment with stereoscopic drawings rather than sticking with Hayward’s more traditional style. Hayward had made an attempt at creating the kinds of three-dimensional images that Pauling was seeking but, by the time of the third edition, his struggles with chronic asthma and declining vision were both restricting his availability for projects and compromising his ability to create superior work.

In the end, Pauling decided to begin a new collaboration with Evan Gillespie, the director of the art department at Freeman & Co. Hayward, by now formally retired, continued to find commission work for the remainder of his life. He passed away in 1979 at the age of 80.

With Freeman and Hayward no longer in the picture, the core of Pauling’s new team consisted of illustrator Gillespie and editor Stanley Schaefer, who was also chairman of the Freeman & Co. board. Family played a significant role in the third edition as well, with Peter Pauling and Barclay Kamb – Pauling’s son-in-law – contributing intermittently throughout the project


Released in 1970, the third edition of Pauling’s General Chemistry focused more on physical and theoretical principles while – in response to a trend in comments expressed about the second edition – largely avoiding abstract mathematics. (Instead, he included more statistical mechanics.) Pauling also pruned what had been a longer section on descriptive chemistry and shortened his chapter on organic chemistry.

The question of how best to treat organic chemistry had presented a particularly vexing conundrum during the revision process. Pauling’s first edition had been criticized for providing only a surface treatment of the subject, but his expansion on the topic as presented in the second edition was met with even more criticism. For the third edition, Pauling worked to strike a balance on the subject, though some reviewers protested that he had failed to update his ideas sufficiently, rendering his new textbook at least partially out of date.

Generally speaking however, the third edition received a warm response. Most reviewers applauded Pauling’s switch to S.I. units, and the typically rigorous nature of the book – perhaps, by now, less of a shock within the academic community – elicited more positive praise than had been the case in the past. One reviewer specifically pushed back against complaints that the textbook was too difficult by noting that it was a professor’s responsibility to present Pauling’s subject matter with clarity and assistance when introducing it in the classroom. In other published reviews, Pauling’s clarity, unification of scientific principles, and modernity were emphasized.

Nonetheless, as time moved forward it became clear that more and more people were using General Chemistry as a reference book rather than a textbook. Pauling’s approach, revolutionary in 1947, had, by the early 1970s, become classic. As a new generation of chemists, many of them trained using General Chemistry, moved through the ranks of their profession, Pauling’s textbook assumed more of an artifactual positioning: solid in its place in history but increasingly less vital for students.

Importantly, Pauling had likewise moved on to a new phase of his career: in the same year that the third edition was released, so too was Vitamin C and the Common Cold. This book’s runaway success and the maelstrom of work and controversy that followed would consume much of Pauling’s attention for the remainder of his life.

General Chemistry, Second Edition

[An examination of General Chemistry, published by Linus Pauling seventy years ago. This is part 4 of 7.]

Linus Pauling and his publisher, William H. Freeman, were in the planning stages for a second edition of General Chemistry before the first edition had even hit the bookstores in 1947. Nonetheless, the second edition didn’t appear until 1953. Because so many reviewers had taken issue with the advanced nature of General Chemistry, Pauling made the decision to author an entirely different textbook, College Chemistry, which would be written for and marketed to introductory college classes and advanced high school students. Published in 1950, College Chemistry proved to be less controversial with its reviewers than was the first edition of General Chemistry, as it more closely followed the standard conventions that one might expect of an introductory textbook.

This favorable response pleased Pauling, Freeman, and Roger Hayward, who had provided the illustrations again, but it also drew significant time and attention away from progress on the second edition of General Chemistry. The trio had originally planned to have their revision out by spring 1950, but the deadline was continually pushed back as Pauling grew increasingly busy with travel and work on College Chemistry. With the initial goal of spring 1950 turning into winter of 1951 and then spring of 1952, a final hard deadline of January 1953 was ultimately issued by Bill Freeman. At long last, the second edition that the three men had been dreaming about since 1948 finally entered the world’s classrooms in September 1953.


Ava Helen and Linus Pauling’s passport photo. 1953.

While College Chemistry may have been the main culprit behind the delays that hampered the second edition, it wasn’t the only factor. More than anything, Linus Pauling was just busy, and in new ways. Most notably, in addition to his teaching, his research, and his work on two textbooks, the pace of Pauling’s political work had picked up significantly.

A forceful and sometimes isolated voice during the era of the Red Scare, Pauling was castigated for his beliefs by the mainstream media and persecuted by his government as well. In 1952, Pauling was famously denied passport clearance to leave the country, casting him and Ava Helen into a world of sudden uncertainty. Although he was eventually granted the right to travel in time to leave for a planned trip to Oxford, the experience caused a great deal of stress and distraction to say the least. In fact, Pauling made note of editing galley proofs of the second edition at JFK airport just before he and Ava Helen departed. And while there was some concern that Pauling’s beliefs might affect his sales, any dip of this sort does not appear to have come about. One reviewer went so far as to write Pauling directly to commend his political activism.


Between 1947 and 1953, with the second edition delayed again and again, the Freeman company released several revised printings of the first edition that corrected minor typographical and numerical errors, but did not change the content itself. In this, both author and publisher were signaling their intent to seriously consider reviewer comments and to continually improve the book. Ava Helen Pauling helped immensely in this regard, handling many of the error corrections from home so that her husband could focus on other projects.

That said, this revision process was not without its issues. Most notably, at one point Bill Freeman was compelled to inform his author that the projected cost for plate changes that Pauling had ordered was going to approximate the total profits that had, so far, been accrued by both General Chemistry and College Chemistry combined. Noting this, he urged Pauling to go back through his manuscript and revoke any changes that were not strictly typographical or related to errors in fact. Pauling quickly agreed, admitting that he had requested edits in any instance where felt that the style of his book could be improved, as well as the technical content.


Once it became available, reviewers of the second edition of General Chemistry noticed right away that it differed from the first edition significantly. Responding to some of the more consistent concerns expressed about the first edition, Pauling expanded his chapters on gas law, organic chemistry, and atomic physics, as well as his treatment of metals. He also added two chapters, “The Electron and the Nucleus” and “Quantum Theory and Molecular Structure.” Roger Hayward was once again enlisted to improve old illustrations and to add several new ones.

Reviewer Stanley Bruce was among those who were struck by Pauling’s fine-tuning.

I was particularly interested to note the order of presentation of topic, the deletion of much of the less important factual material on organic chemistry, the inclusion of certain topics in physical chemistry…the refined discussion of some topics…and the important emphasis on structural chemistry.

Indeed, commenters typically appreciated that Pauling had included more discussion to support his claims and had incorporated deeper analyses of modern theories. The second edition also contained a great many clarifications of terms that users of the first edition had found confusing.

On the downside, Pauling’s attempts to improve the accessibility of his text for a more introductory audience seems to have created problems with consistency. One reviewer commented that “Pauling seems to vacillate between highly technical language (which is above our students’ heads) and simplified language which seems to me inaccurate.” Another accused Pauling of mixing high school-level concepts with Ph.D.-level treatments.

In the main however, feedback for the second edition was overwhelmingly positive. Generally speaking, the novel treatment of subjects that had proven so enticing in the first edition once again won out over complaints about the organization or rigor of the book. One reviewer gushed that Pauling’s “Words flow like water down the Madison – sure, forceful, and effortless.” Though a few colleagues continued to grumble over Pauling’s selection of theories, the consensus was that the second edition marked “the end of purely descriptive chemistry.”

Meanwhile, thanks largely to the success of General Chemistry, Freeman and Co. was doing well. Buoyed by his early successes, Bill Freeman expanded his staff, hiring Theodore McClintock and Stanley Schaefer to serve as the firm’s primary editors. Schaefer in particular proved to be a crucial hire. Eventually he became president of the company and he later served as chairman of the board of directors following Freeman & Co.’s corporate merge with Scientific American in 1964.

General Chemistry: Reactions to the First Edition

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[An examination of General Chemistry, published by Linus Pauling seventy years ago. This is part 3 of 7.]

The first edition of Linus Pauling’s General Chemistry textbook was published by W.H. Freeman and Co. in August 1947, and almost immediately the comment cards poured in. The majority of the book’s readers praised Pauling’s refreshingly modern approach to the principles of chemistry. They considered his focus on modern chemical principles, with only brief and necessary digressions into historical background, a welcome innovation in textbook design.

Many also were also impressed by Pauling’s clear and direct approach to his subject matter, with one reviewer commenting that

[Pauling’s book] is written in a way which should appeal to the imaginations of those who happen to possess them, which is perhaps as important as anything that can be done.

Reviewers were likewise nearly unanimous in their enthusiasm for Roger Hayward’s skillful illustrations, pointing out the degree to which his depictions were a truly extraordinary asset, especially for concepts known to be sources of difficulty for students.


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That is not to suggest, however, that the first edition was uniformly accepted as flawless. Indeed, over half of Pauling’s reviewers declared the book to be too advanced for it’s announced audience: first year students. Moreover, many also noted that the book actually discouraged all but their most determined introductory pupils from moving forward because of the difficulties that they encountered with some of the fundamental principles that Pauling laid out.

Many of the professors who found the text to be too challenging believed that Pauling had mistakenly used Caltech as the standard by which to measure all incoming college freshman. But while their opinion that Pauling had miscalculated in this regard was fairly consistent, the collective did not provide a consensus on who might be an appropriate target audience for the book; reviewers’ suggestions ranged from advanced freshmen to pre-professional students.

In fact, Pauling did have Caltech freshmen in mind when he wrote the book, and very intentionally so. When he embarked upon the project, he made clear that his primary ambition was to develop a text that would prove useful to students who shared his own early enthusiasm for chemistry and who were prepared to devote their academic careers – and, ideally, their professional careers – to the study of chemistry. In the eyes of many though, this approach was not appropriate to other institutions of higher learning and the question of ideal audience remained a point of contention for the entire life of the book.


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Several professors who argued in support of the text tended to feel that its advanced nature was actually the best possible asset that could be provided to specific cohorts of students: in particular, students blessed with sufficient high school experience and/or interest, as well as students who made up for their lack of experience with enthusiasm and perseverance. A few years after Pauling first published his book, a California professor commented that, in his higher-level class, students using General Chemistry applied essential material more effectively and achieved higher rates of success in upper-division chemistry courses overall.

Other positive reviewers focused more intently on Pauling’s technique and powers of description. Scripps professor Norris Rakestraw called Pauling’s review of molecular structure “one of the best approaches to an understanding of general chemistry” and also agreed with others who claimed that the book had the potential to propel students to a more rigorous level. If perhaps not ideally suited for freshmen, Rakestraw believed that General Chemistry was certainly perfect for a refresher course.

Several others followed suit. A.L. Rathmer suggested that Pauling’s “unorthodox and unconventional” treatment was valuable to teachers and other researchers in the field. A reviewer from Northwestern University phrased a similar sentiment in a decidedly different way:

Any instructor who fails to read this text should be fired – and any instructor who tries to use it with freshman should also be fired.

A smaller group of professors offering mixed reviews pointed out that Pauling’s own research interests – particularly his biochemical interests – seemed to dominate the text. A few went so far as to accuse Pauling of using his book as a platform to advance his own scientific theories. Pauling, who was generally open to feedback, did not respond to these comments except to disclaim them in fragmented notes scribbled in the margins of letters and review cards.


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One oft-issued request that did receive a response from Pauling was that he release an answer key to the book’s exercises. He worked on this key during the summer of 1947 while he was working as a visiting professor at Oxford University, and he enlisted his son, Peter, to work through the problems alongside him, verifying answers and identifying problematic practice questions.

Reacting to a different set of complaints, Bill Freeman suggested that the publishing house also compile and release a laboratory manual that was specifically designed to accompany the text. Settling on a length of 290 pages with 80 Hayward illustrations, Freeman worked with Pauling to select Harper Frantz, a lecturer at Pasadena City College, and Lloyd Malm, a University of Utah chemistry professor, as co-authors. Frantz and Malm in turn developed experiments that were based on and that further amplified the principles described in General Chemistry.


Pauling was not only unconventional in his approach to subject matter, but also in how he used his terminology. Two prominent examples of this tendency were his representation of Avogadro’s number and his use of the term “molality” in the place of “molarity.”

Avogadro’s number defines the units in one mole of a solution and is typically set at approximately 6.022 x 1023. Pauling, however, chose to write the number as 0.6023 x 1024. Even when several colleagues urged him to stick to generally accepted convention, Pauling insisted on representing the number as 0.6023 x 1024 and continued to do so throughout all three editions of General Chemistry. In defending his point of view, Pauling offered this explanation in a footnote:

There is great convenience in learning Avogadro’s number as 0.6023 x 1024. An important use of this number involves the conversion of the volume of a gram-atom of an element into the volume per atom. The first volume is expressed in cm3, and the second in Å3. The relation between cm3 and Å3 involves the factor of 1024 : 1 cm3 = 1024 Å3. Accordingly, in case that Avogadro’s number has been taken as 0.6023 x 1024, there is no trouble whatever in deciding on the position of the decimal point.

In other words, by simplifying Avogadro’s number in an unorthodox way, Pauling was trying to make the concept easier to learn for students.

He defended his choice to use “molality” in a similar fashion, referencing A.A. Noyes, Ernest Swift, and W.C. Bray as among those who used “molality” to refer to moles per liter of solution. Pauling incorrectly believed that the term would eventually prevail within the discipline and therefore felt that students would be well-advised to familiarize themselves with it. Eventually he conceded that his was not destined to be the conventional wisdom and he changed “molal” to “molar” in the second edition.

Indeed, throughout the lifespan of General Chemistry, Pauling trusted that students using the book would come equipped with a firm grasp on the language of chemistry. He did, however, agree to provide more definitions in the second edition, particularly for less common or more advanced terms.


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Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, 1948.

While there was widespread disagreement about the appropriateness of using Pauling’s book in freshman classes, very few reviewers disputed General Chemistry‘s strength in content. One colleague, J.S. Coles, who later went on to author a textbook of his own, published a review of Pauling’s first edition and followed it up with a letter in which he emphasized that

Even if every suggestion or criticism [contained within the review] were completely ignored, I would continue to believe [General Chemistry] far ahead of any other text in the field and would continue to use it in any of my courses wherein I thought it to be appropriate.

Many professors who did not adopt the text for their courses admitted to keeping a few copies on hand for themselves and, on occasion, for their advanced students. More still reconsidered their initial rejection of the book when the Frantz-Malm laboratory manual came out in 1949. Of the overall response to General Chemistry, Bill Freeman wrote, “Oh we will slip from grace now and then – I hope it will be because we are trying to improve on the conventional.”

What is beyond doubt is that General Chemistry was wildly successful, even if it didn’t always reach its intended audience, and the royalties that Pauling received provided him with a new level of financial comfort. While most of the windfall was used to support Pauling’s ambitious travel schedule, he did choose to invest in at least one comfort item: an outdoor pool at his Pasadena home.

Affectionately dubbed by his children as “the pool that General Chemistry built,” the space quickly became a gathering spot for some of Pauling’s luckier graduate students, and evolved from there into a location where students could engage Pauling in lively conversations and solicit advice. Not unlike Pauling’s book, these conversations, on any number of occasions, led to insights that shifted the entire course of a student’s professional trajectory.

An Auspicious Friendship

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[An examination of General Chemistry, published by Linus Pauling seventy years ago. This is part 2 of 7.]

William Hazen “Bill” Freeman established the publishing firm of W.H. Freeman and Company in 1946. On breaking with his previous employer MacMillan Publishers, Freeman said simply, “We made so bold a move because we found that every factor contributing to the success of such a venture was at hand, waiting to be put to work.” There is little doubt that Freeman was thinking of Linus Pauling when he made this statement, but his confidence was also born of extensive experience in the publishing world, working especially with college textbooks.

Freeman brought all his resources and skills to bear on Pauling’s General Chemistry manuscript. He began by circulating early drafts of the text to curate specific feedback in cases where he himself was not equipped to offer it. He also promoted the finished text tirelessly and, through the process, worked without complaint around Pauling’s complicated lecture and travel schedule. Put simply, Freeman knew that he had a singular resource in hand with Linus Pauling, and he did his best to do right by this relationship, both out of respect for Pauling and out of interest in building his business.


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Illustration prepared by Roger Hayward for use in General Chemistry, 1947.

Without question, another individual who contributed greatly to the success of General Chemistry – and to W.H. Freeman and Company – was Roger Hayward, who joined the duo early on as an illustrator at Pauling’s insistence. Hayward moved from the East Coast to Pasadena in 1929, upon which time he became a member of the Caltech One-Hundred-to-One Shot Club, which was comprised of individuals interested in astronomy. Through this connection, Hayward gradually came to be involved with several projects involving Caltech faculty and ultimately met Pauling in the 1930s.

Hayward was an architect by training and Pauling so respected his skill as a draftsman and an artist that he insisted that he was the only one up to the task of creating illustrations for General Chemistry. Pauling was no doubt attracted to Hayward’s unique approach to scientific illustration, wherein he conducted in-depth and detailed research on the scientific principles underlying his topic before ever setting pencil to paper. Freeman also recognized Hayward’s unrivaled skill, and enlisted him on a number of other projects beyond Pauling’s text. By the end of their partnership, Pauling considered Hayward to be not only a collaborator and a friend, but a scientist as well.

As the General Chemistry text was being developed, Pauling evinced such faith in Hayward’s abilities that he offered to transfer .05% of his royalty rate to the illustrator, a payment that would be made in addition to the fee that Freeman and Co. had contracted for the illustrations themselves. Bill Freeman agreed to this arrangement and generously matched Pauling’s offer such that Hayward ultimately received royalties at the rate of 1% for every copy sold – a rate nearly as high as Pauling’s 1.5% royalty agreement.

While seemingly generous, this understanding later proved to be fraught with complications, and Hayward often complained that Freeman and Co. did not adequately compensate him for the amount and quality of work that he contributed. Pauling and Freeman, growing exasperated with this behavior, privately agreed that Hayward was a key contributer but also a “bit of a prima donna.”

Nonetheless, Freeman deeply respected Hayward as a serious artist and clearly understood the value that he brought to the company. As a result, he strove to adjust financial arrangements so that they would benefit all parties involved. For a brief period in the early 1950s, Freeman even brought Hayward on under contract as a staffmember at Freeman and Co. Although the arrangement ended before Hayward’s ten-year deal had expired, the two men deeply appreciated the friendship they shared. Indeed, even in the midst of sensitive and difficult financial negotiations, their letters often ended with mutual expressions of hope that they would see one other soon.


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Under Freeman’s stewardship, Pauling’s manuscript underwent a number of important changes. Initially organized into thirteen chapters, the text was ultimately divided into thirty-three chapters by the time of its publication. In so doing, Freeman and Pauling agreed to remove an initial chapter on valence, choosing instead to disburse the subject matter into a series of subsections located throughout the book.

Likewise, in the manuscript version, Pauling had included a small introductory paragraph on the broader subject of chemistry before diving into his material. In the published book, Pauling instead dedicated his entire first chapter to the importance of studying chemistry as well as the mission and philosophy of the textbook that he had written to help aid in this endeavor. This change allowed Pauling to provide guidance to students on how they might use the book itself, a particularly important addition given that he was breaking from traditional pedagogical styles.

Freeman and Pauling also decided to move chapters on chemical reactions, the properties of gases, and thermochemistry to the end of the book, judging these topics to be sufficiently advanced that a strong foundation on elementary topics should be established first.

Most of the changes that Pauling and Freeman made reflected a desire to create more space to explore topics and to build logical connections between sections and chapters. In the chapters that Pauling eventually added, he covered specific elements like sulfur and nitrogen, as well as compounds including water and several metals. Other changes in chapter order enabled deeper introductions to substances and solutions prior to walking readers through investigations of matter, properties, and variations.


As late as 1947, mere months before Freeman and Co. released the book, Pauling was still calling his text Principles of Chemistry. Freeman suggested that the title be changed to A General Chemistry, because he felt that it conveyed a sense of modesty.

Once Pauling had dropped the indefinite article in favor of a more authoritative title, General Chemistry, Freeman offered him three possible subtitles from which to choose: “An Introduction to Modern Theory and Descriptive Chemistry,” “A Statement of Modern Theory and Descriptive Chemistry,” or “An Introductory Statement of Modern Theory and Descriptive Chemistry.” Pauling eventually synthesized the three into “An Introduction to Descriptive Chemistry and Modern Chemical Theory.”

This subtitle reflected Pauling’s goal for the book itself: in his text, he sought to present descriptive chemistry and theoretical chemistry alongside one another to illustrate their equal significance and impact. His first chapter made clear that he felt practical work, in tandem with study and review of the facts of chemistry, were vital to a full understanding of the subject. In reflecting on this point, he noted that

A well-educated man or woman needs to have an understanding of the material world in which he lives as well as of literature and history, and he may find great pleasure in the appreciation of new knowledge as it results from scientific progress.


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Once Pauling had a completed his draft, he and Freeman fell into a rhythm, editing the manuscript collaboratively through a series of memos and letters. Pauling typically submitted one chapter at a time, to which Freeman would quickly reply with corrections and suggestions. From there, Pauling would counter by accepting, rejecting, or offering alternate suggestions. In effect, the letters acted as a written dialogue between the two; Freeman providing detailed explanations with his feedback and Pauling taking care to respond and explain his choices.

By February 1947, Freeman told Pauling that their collaboration had exceeded his initial expectations for progress, but that they still needed to keep pushing if they hoped to have a successful first year. The publisher’s goal was to sell between 13,000 to 16,000 copies of the book within its first year in circulation, but this number would only be attainable if they had shipped review copies to professors before the end of spring term.

Subsequently, the two increased the pace of their correspondence and managed to get 500 review copies out by the end of May 1947, with an official release date set for that September. The estimated price of the volume was $4.25 per copy. It would span 600 pages and include 160 of Hayward’s illustrations. Just prior to printing, Pauling wrote a preface that stated his goal for the text:

a special effort has been made in this book to present the subject of chemistry in a logical and simple matter, and to correlate descriptive chemistry with the theories of chemistry.


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Comment sheet collected by Bill Freeman, 1947.

As they neared completion, Pauling offered to assist with his own marketing by proposing that he send a table of contents and brief description of the book to former Ph.D. students from Caltech who were now teaching classes of their own. Freeman gently declined this idea, explaining to Pauling that an author did not conventionally promote his own text and asking that all marketing activities be left to the publishing house. Freeman and his assistant, Janet MacRorie, subsequently created a vigorous advertising plan, targeting chemistry professors at all major universities as well as several smaller institutions. The publishers also sent out an open later including excerpts from the book that Freeman believed best demonstrated Pauling’s distinct and straightforward writing style.

In April, Freeman and Co. sent page proofs of the first five chapters of the book to fifteen different schools, with the idea that doing so would allow them to receive and incorporate feedback in the finished product. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but did contain points of constructive criticism that provided direction for revision. Reviewers typically highlighted passages that they felt would be too complex or confusing for their own classes, drawing from their own unique experiences working with undergraduates.

Freeman collected the primary concerns expressed about the book and organized them for Pauling to review. Though some felt that the text was too challenging, Freeman remained confident that even those who were critical in the beginning would return to it if Pauling spent the next year collecting observations and announcing plans for revision at a forthcoming date.

Pauling and Freeman were both deeply invested in the project, so much so that, when it came out, Freeman told Pauling that he felt like a “first time father in the maternity ward.” Once the final version arrived back from the printers, it became clear that Freeman’s commitment to meticulous editing had paid off; Pauling remarked that he had never seen such an extensive publication that contained so few errors.

The duo soon had further reason to celebrate: by June 1948, over forty colleges had adopted or were planning to adopt General Chemistry. Meanwhile, Pauling’s royalties for the first printing of the book summed to nearly $3,700 (over $38,000 in today’s dollars) and continued to increase over the next ten years, bumping up significantly more after the release of the second edition. By the end of 1950, eighty-three colleges had adopted General Chemistry and Pauling’s royalty rate had increased from 1.5% to 3%For author and publisher both, this project was already a huge success.