Campbell used the work of early 20th century theorists to develop his model of the hero (see also structuralism), including Freud (particularly the Oedipus complex), Carl Jung (archetypal figures and the collective unconscious), and Arnold Van Gennep (the three stages of The Rites of Passage, translated by Campbell into Separation, Initiation and Return). Campbell also looked to the work of ethnographers James Frazer and Franz Boas and psychologist Otto Rank.
Campbell called this journey of the hero the monomyth. Campbell was a noted scholar of James Joyce (in 1944 he co-authored A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake with Henry Morton Robinson), and Campbell borrowed the term monomyth from Joyce's Finnegans Wake. In addition, Joyce's Ulysses was also highly influential in the structuring of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The book was originally published by the Bollingen Foundation through Pantheon Press as the seventeenth title in the Bollingen Series. This series was taken over by Princeton University Press, who published The Hero through 2006. Originally issued in 1949 and revised by Campbell in 1968, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has been reprinted a number of times. Reprints issued after the release of Star Wars in 1977 used the image of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on the cover. Princeton University Press issued a commemorative printing of the second edition in 2004 on the occasion of the joint centennial of Campbell's birth and the Press's founding with an added foreword by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
A third edition, compiled by the Joseph Campbell Foundation and published by New World Library, was released as the twelfth title in the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series in July 2008.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces has been translated into over twenty languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Turkish, Dutch, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Czech, Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian, Russian, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Hebrew, and has sold well over a million copies worldwide.