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The Philadelphian: The Late Richard Powell’s Classic Novel is Restored by Plexus Publishing, Inc.

For Immediate Release
For information contact:
Rob Colding
Book Marketing Coordinator
Plexus Publishing, Inc.
(609) 654-6500, ext. 330

November 15, 2006 , Medford, New Jersey—Plexus Publishing, Inc. has announced the publication of the 50th Anniversary Edition of the late Richard Powell’s The Philadelphian, a popular novel that became an Oscar-nominated film starring Paul Newman and Robert Vaughn.

Touted by its original publisher, Charles Scribner’s Sons, as an exposé of blue-blooded Philadelphia and Main Line society, The Philadelphian was a national bestseller in 1957, and in the intervening years has been widely hailed as Richard Powell’s crowning literary achievement. Spanning four generations beginning with the emigration of an uneducated Irish girl in 1857, The Philadelphian is a raw and powerful tale of a family of humble origins clawing its way to the top of the social ladder. The story climaxes in an unforgettable courtroom scene, with Philadelphia society on trial and the city held spellbound.

The Scribner’s hardcover and the Bantam paperback editions have been out of print for over 30 years, and fans of the novel have been limited to purchasing used copies. In the spring of 2006, Richard Powell’s daughter, Dorothy Powell Quigley, approached Plexus Publishing, Inc., a Delaware Valley regional publisher, about the possibility of restoring the book. Plexus decided to produce a special commemorative edition to celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary.

“If there was one book my father really wanted to write, it was The Philadelphian—it was his dream come true,” Quigley said. “To see his favorite book restored 50 years later is a dream come true for me.”

“The Philadelphian is one of the two most memorable novels I’ve read this year, and the other is also by Richard Powell,” said Plexus Publishing, Inc.’s John B. Bryans, who acquired the publishing rights from Dorothy Powell Quigley in June. “When Dorothy first approached us, I was not familiar with the book and almost passed on it,” Bryans said. “But she was persistent, and as I learned something of the novel’s history and started reading it, I was hooked.” Bryans described Richard Powell as “a vastly underrated novelist whose work is infused by a wonderful sense of irony.”

The Philadelphian spent more than six months on the bestseller lists in 1957, and was a Reader’s Digest Book Club selection. In 1959 Warner Bros. released The Young Philadelphians, a feature film based on the novel starring Paul Newman, for which Robert Vaughn received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. The 50th anniversary edition of the book includes a foreword by Vaughn, as well as a reminiscence by Dorothy Powell Quigley and Richard Powell’s previously unpublished and very funny soliloquy, “The Personality of Philadelphia.”

While most of Richard Powell’s novels disappeared from publishers’ lists during the 1970s, his work is currently experiencing a revival, with three books in addition to The Philadelphian currently available in new editions or soon to be released. Say It With Bullets has recently been published by Hard Case Crime, with motion picture rights optioned to Caribou Films, while both Shell Game and A Shot In The Dark are forthcoming from Stark House Press.

A seventh generation Philadelphian, Richard Powell (1908–1999) was a prodigiously talented writer whose 19 full-length fictional works included many mysteries along with several comedic, dramatic, and historical novels. Prior to retiring to Florida in 1958 to write full time, he studied history at Princeton, was a reporter for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger, served in the Army during WWII, and worked for many years in advertising and public relations. Powell was an inventive storyteller and a keen observer of human foibles and follies who, at the peak of his writing prowess in the late 1950s and 1960s, emerged as a master of the contemporary novel. No matter what fiction genre Powell turned his hand to, his wry characterizations, crackling dialog, and deft plotting made each book an irresistible page-turner. Several of his novels including The Philadelphian were made into feature films.

The Philadelphian (344 pp/hardbound/$22.95/ISBN-10: 0-937548-62-6; ISBN-13: 978-0-937548-62-2) is published by Plexus Publishing, Inc. The book is available in bookstores and by contacting the publisher directly at (609) 654-6266, ext. 144; fax: (609) 654-4309; e-mail:; Web site: