Hermitage Publishers Co. was founded by Igor Efimov (Russian writer) and his wife Marina Efimov (poet, journalist, translator) in 1981, in Michigan. They both were active in Leningrad literary life of 1960-70s and knew how many talented manuscripts couldn’t be published in the Soviet Union due to the strict censorship conditions. These manuscripts were smuggled into the West and many of them ended up in the small basement-office of the Efimov’s apartment in Ann Arbor, Mich. After being published by Hermitage these books were usually broadcasted by the Voice of America, Radio Liberty, BBC and other Western radio stations for the Russian listeners. Thousands copies of novels, memoirs, historical studies were secretly brought into the Soviet Union by tourists, students, professors from the West. Many Russian poets whose names are well known today had their first collections published by Hermitage: Vladimir Gandelsman, Lev Losev, Anatoly Naiman, Irina Ratushinskaia.
After the collapse of the communist regime in 1991 the writers were freed from censorship but today they are facing other problems connected with laws of market economy. And in the 1990s even well known writers have preferred to get their works published in small print runs by Hermitage in the USA than to wait till a market situation in Russia allows Moscow publishers to send their manuscripts to a press.
Another part of Hermitage activity is publishing scholarly books on Russian history, arts and culture (both in Russian and English) and anthologies of Russian prose and poetry which could be used by the students of Russian language in the American universities.
About 260 titles were published by Hermitage during 25 years of its activity. In 1985 it moved from Michigan into New York area, and later, in 2005, to Pennsylvania. Many books by émigré authors published originally by Hermitage have been reprinted in Russia during the last years. In some sense Hermitage can be seen as a colony of Russian literature in USA. Its ties with the “Metropolis” in Eastern hemisphere is getting stronger every year.