Drue Heinz, "a generous patron of the arts, Pittsburgh's biggest literary angel, co-founder of Ecco Press and publisher of The Paris Review for 15 years," died March 30, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, describing her as a "lively, engaging woman of discerning taste and probing intellect." She was 103.
In 1970, the literary magazine Antaeus, which had been launched by Daniel Halpern and Paul Bowles in Tangier, caught Heinz's attention. When she wrote to request a subscription and learned the publication was going to fold because of lack of funds, she agreed to finance publication if Halpern would help her start Ecco Press, which she also underwrote. In 1999, HarperCollins acquired the publisher, renaming it Ecco.
Halpern recalled that he first met Heinz in 1970 when she invited him to a party at her home in Manhattan. "It turned out to be a rather grand black tie event," he said. "The only person I knew was Renata Adler. She was dating Warren Beatty. Eventually, I met Drue and she sent down a check by driver to cover the cost of the next issue. I didn't have a bank account."
In 1980, Heinz began supporting the University of Pittsburgh's fiction prize, and 15 years later, she endowed the prize with a $1 million gift to the university. Winners of the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature receive $15,000, and the University of Pittsburgh Press publishes their short stories or novellas.
Ed Ochester, who edits the University of Pittsburgh Press's poetry series, said Heinz "was good at drawing people out" because "she was intellectually hungry and a voracious and passionate reader." He added that when she endowed the literature prize, she wrote two checks, each for $500,000: "The revenue from that million has exceeded the needs of the press for publication and promotion of the Heinz books so it keeps growing."
Heinz's "abiding love for literature and poetry, coupled with her generosity, made her part of the circle of people who founded The Paris Review in France in 1953," the Post-Gazette wrote, noting that she was publisher from 1993 to 2007. She also sat on the board of the MacDowell Colony.