Started by a Nebraska bookworm in , CliffsNotes has been the salvation of many a time-crunched, inquisitive—and yes, downright lazy—student. But who was Cliff, anyway? And who wrote the guides?
Clifton Keith Hillegass, who for 40 years published Cliffs Notes, the literary study guides that have saved millions of procrastinating students from academic ruin, died in his home in Lincoln, Neb. He was He died of complications after a stroke in late April, his family said. Cliffs Notes, which are sold primarily to high school students, provide plot summaries and commentaries on literary classics like ''Wuthering Heights'' and ''The Catcher in the Rye.
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The guides present and create literary and other works in pamphlet form or online. Detractors of the study guides claim they let students bypass reading the assigned literature. The company claims to promote the reading of the original work and does not view the study guides as a substitute for that reading. CliffsNotes was started by Nebraska native Clifton Hillegass in Hillegass and his wife, Catherine, started the business in their basement at Eastridge Drive in Lincoln, with sixteen William Shakespeare titles. By sales reached one million Notes annually. CliffsNotes now exist on hundreds of works. The term "Cliff's Notes" has now become a proprietary eponym for similar products. In , CliffsNotes announced a joint venture with AOL and reality TV show producer Mark Burnett to introduce a series of second video study guide surveys of literary works.
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