Arthur A. Cohen was born in New York City to second-generation Jewish-American parents who encouraged his pursuit of writing from an early age. His publishing career also began early: he completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago at the age of 18 and co-founded Noonday Press with his friend Cecil Hemley three years later. The success of Noonday Press led him to establish the renowned imprint Meridian Scholar, which later sold to World Publishing. After working at World for a number of years, he was hired by Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, where he became an editor-in-chief in 1964. Throughout his successful publishing career, he also wrote well-received fiction and nonfiction works on a wide range of subjects.
In regard to this polymath career, David M. Stern wrote Cohen: “Though he was best known as a novelist and theologian, he also pursued successful careers as a highly regarded editor and publisher, as an expert collector and dealer in rare books and documents [of] twentieth-century art, and as a man of letters and cultural critic who wrote with equal authority on modern European literature, medieval Jewish mysticism, the history of Dada and surrealism, and modern typography and design.”