George Blagowidow founded the company in 1970, initially as a distribution firm called Optimum Book Marketing. In the following year the publishing side of the business came into being as Hippocrene Books. The name "Hippocrene" comes from Greek mythology and refers to the sacred fountain of the Muses that was the source of their inspiration.
Hippocrene’s international focus derives from Mr. Blagowidow’s passion for travel and his personal history. Born in Poland of Russian parents, he survived the Nazi occupation and narrowly escaped from communist Europe in 1945. His linguistic brilliance and fluency in Polish, Russian, German, and English, among others, played no small part in his ability to avoid capture, as told in his memoir. After attending university in Antwerp, Belgium, he came to New York in 1951, where he earned master’s and doctorate degrees in business from New York University. Before starting his own publishing company, Mr. Blagowidow held executive positions at Doubleday, Macmillan, and Reader’s Digest.
In addition to being a publisher, he was also an author, and wrote "The Last Train from Berlin" (Doubleday, 1977) and "In Search of the Lady Lion Tamer" (Harcourt Brace,1987). Mr. Blagowidow passed away in September 2014 at the age of 90, and is dearly missed.