Mott, Frank Luther.
A History of American magazines.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957-1968.
v. 2, p. 309, 417, 462; v. 3, p. 53, 100, 229-230, 511; v. 4, 49n,
84, 98, 120, 123, 359, 361, 408, 496, 537, 542, 612, 765; v. 5, p. 136,
By 1870 it was advertising a thousand pages of letterpress a year,
with fourteen steel plates, twelve double-page folding colored fashion
plates, and a thousand wood engravings. There were five or six serials
a year, monthly departments of fancywork, recipes, etc., and plenty of
short stories and poems. "All the popular female writes of America" contributed,
including, besides the old stand-bys, Mrs. Kirkland, Mrs. Southworth, Mrs.
Rebecca Harding Davis, Louise Chandler Moulton, and Jane G. Austin. Fannie
Hodgson, later to become so popular as Frances Hodgson Burnett, was a constant
contributor; and Ella Wheeler made her debut in Peterson's. Beginning
in 1878 and continuing for fifteen years, there was issued with each number,
as a "supplement," a large folder pattern "for polonaise, cloak, mantilla,
jacket, waist, or some other article of a lady's costume, in the very latest
Arthur's Home Magazine
Few well-known names are found. For some years Arthur and Miss Townsend
apparently did nearly all of the magazine themselves. Lucy Larcom, Helen
L. Bostwick, "Clara Augusta," and J. Starr Holloway became prominent contributors
in the sixties; and Julia C.R. Dorr and Louise Chandler Moulton came in
during the following decade, with Alice Cary and Ella Wheeler, those ubiquitous
magazine poets. An entertaining contributor to the "Home Life and Character"
department was one "Pipsissiway Potts."
In its second decade Leslie's printed serials by both English
and American writers, but they were far from measuring up to those being
published in Harper's Weekly, Appleton's Journal, or Every Saturday.
Anthony Trollope headed the Leslie list of authors, and Mary Elizabeth
Braddon, who had communicated to the world that terrible secret of Lady
Audley's, was prominent in the paper's columns. Edward S. Ellis, one of
the best of the dime-novel writers, was a Leslie serialist. Harriet Prescot
Spofford wrote many short stories for the paper in the late sixties, as
did Richard B. Kimball a few years later. John Esten Cooke and G.J. Whyte-Melville
contributed serials in the latter seventies. Thomas W. Knox, one of the
foremost travel writers of the time, did many sketches for Leslie's.
Bayard Taylor, William Winter, and Ella Wheeler were among the paper's
poets. But there were also many little-known writers who contributed mediocre
work, as well as a good deal of anonymous material; and belles-lettres
were, in general, subordinated to the varied fare of politics, the record
of amusements and theaters, the news features, adn the "Town Gossip" which
served, in the main, to set the table of Frank Leslie's Illustrated
United States Monthly Magazine and Abbot's Monthly
A third monthly of some distinction was the United States Monthly Magazine,
edited and published for two and a half years from July 1881, by Willys
S. Abbot. It was also called Abbot's Monthly, was well printed, and published
writers like Ella Wheeler and Jane Grey Swisshelm.
Ladies' Home Journal
Turning to Philadelphia, we find two or three distinctive new women's
journals, one of which was to develop in later years an outstanding success.
This was the Ladies' Home Journal, founded in 1883 by Cyrus H.K.
Curtis. It was edited by Mrs. Curtis, who hid her identity more or less
effectually under the pen name of "Mrs. Louisa Knapp." At first it was
a cheaply printed eight-page small folio at fifty cents a year, and its
first serial was a sentimental Ella Wheeler tale. But it continually enlisted
more and better writers, it enlarged its size, its publisher developed
a genius for promotion, and by the end of our period it was claiming a
quarter of a million circulation.
Ella Wheeler, who made a sensation with her Poems of Passion in 1883
and added Wilcox to her name the next year, wrote and sold to periodicals
from two to eight poems a day from the age of nineteen on. [source: Lippincott's
Magazine XXXVI, 539 (May 1886)].
The American Magazine.
The Monthly's [Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly] first
serial was Joaquin Miller's The Pink Countess. Other contributors
of fiction were Amelia E. Barr, Jane G. Austin, Harriet Prescott Spofford,
and Horatio Alger. Popular magazinists like A.H. Guernsey, Frank Lee Benedict,
Richard B. Kimball, and George M. Towle are frequently met in its pages.
Ella Wheeler, not yet Wilcox or famous, Eden E. Rexford, C.W. Stoddard,
Lucy H. Hooper, and Madison Cawein contributed verse.
Always strongest in short fiction, it published some of O. Henry's
earliest stories and many by Stephen Crane, Jack London, W.W. Jacobs, and
so on. In the fall of 1902, an all-story policy was adopted, the number
of pages doubled, and the price increased to fifteen cents. As "A Magazine
of Clever Fiction," it continued until 1926.
[Footnote: After the change of policy in 1902, there were still some
essays, verse, and theatrical notes by Harry Thurston Peck, H.C. Chatfield-Taylor,
John Kendrick Bangs, Carolyn Wells, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Frank Dempster
Sherman, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox.]
A brilliant weekly of the New York of the nineties was Truth,
a journal that suffered many changes but was at its best a lively, enterprising,
and beautiful periodical. It began in 1881, with Maurice D. Flynn as manager,
but it was suspended at the end of 1884. "Truth at present cannot be found
without going to the bottom of a well," remarked Editor Creamer in his
Citizen on January 3, 1855. It was virtually a new paper which began
with the new year of 1886 under the management of Davison Dalziel. A ten-cent
quarto of twenty-four pages, Truth was subtitled, "A Journal of
Society, the Clubs, Sports, Drama, and the Fine Arts," and resembled Town
Topics, its chief competitor, in appearance. At its beginning it experimented
with suburban editions, but these were soon abandoned. In fact, the paper
grew shabbier, its size was reduced by one-third, and at last Truth seemed
to be, if not at the bottom of a well, at least crushed to earth. But in
1891 there was another reorganization, and enough money was advanced to
make the periodical a rival of Puck in brillance. Like that great weekly,
it came into the field of social satire -- though it still maintained its
chronicle of high society. It enlisted some well-known authors -- especially
those with reputations for sophisticated writing, like Edgar Saltus, Edgar
Fawcett, William Le Queux, Ella Wheeler Wilcox -- and some personages in
the public eye, like Lord Tennyson and Senators Chauncey M. Depew and John
The Independent (Kansas City)
It was notableduring a year or two for its humor, verse, and book reviews;
among contributors were Ella Wheeler Wilcox, R.K. Munkittrick, Charles
Battell Loomis, Albert Bigelow Paine, and Winifred Black.
"The Twilight of Poetry"
It is probable that the leading magazine poet of our entire period,
if we take the number of contributions as our criterion, was Clinton Scollard,
a professor of English at Hamilton College, who was well-nigh omnipresent
in the magazines. Bliss Carman, Theodosia Garrison, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox
were runners-up. The publishers of Mrs. Wilcox's Poems of Passion, a
rather innocuous succes du scandale of the eighties, claimed that
"not another book of poems published in this country has had so large a
sale." [Footnote: "Advertisement on cover of Belford's Magazine,
Literary Criticism and Book Reviewing
In its very first number Current Literature had remarked on
"the literary sensation of the last two months," the production of "the
audacious Virginia girl who wrote The Quick or the Dead, as Puck
wittily puts it, 'with a low-necked pen.'" Wittily but misleadingly, for
there was no naughty exposure in Miss Rives's passionate, melodramatic
novelette, which had been published originally in Lippincott's Magazine
for April 1888. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who had suffered under the censorious
lash five years earlier for her Poems of Passion, came to the defense
of her sister-author with wild laudation in Current Literature:
Never before in the history of the civilized world has any
author been so grossly misconstrued, so unfairly criticized, so shamelessly
abused without cause as Amelie Rives, that marvellously endowed girl with
the soul of Sappho and the brain of Shakespeare. [Footnote: A "syndicated
letter" quoted in Current Literature, v. 2, p. 94, Feb. 1889.]
Fashion in Dress
But it took courage to depart from the conventional, for the new "fads"
in dress were severely criticized. Boke wrote in the Ladies Home Journal
that "the vast and overwheling majority of women...prefer to be womanly,
and dress tastefully and prettily, as God intended women should dress."
Life called attention to Ella Wheeler Wilcox's disapproval of bathing costumes
and behavior: "Considering the scarcity of raiment on both men and women,
it seems to her that they confabulate more than accords with strict decorum."
[Footnote: Life, v. 10, p. 114, Sept. 1, 1887] And this was in 1887,
when women were always clothed from head to foot when they went on the
beach or into the water.
The Chaperone and American Woman's Review
The Chaperone (1889-1911) was a St. Louis monthly edited by
Annie L.Y. Swart, who later married her publisher, Samuel Orff. It changed
its name to American Woman's Review in 1904. It was a well-printed
and fairly well edited magazine, with good variety of home and literary
departments. There were occasional contributions from such magazinists
as Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Will N. Harben, and Eben E. Rexford.
On the whole, poetry was uncommon in the Arena, Joaquin Miller
contributed two or three western pieces; Ella Wheeler Wilcox had several
didactic poems well adapted to the magazine; Edgar Fawcett wrote some rather
striking pieces in both verse and prose on New York crimes and foibles,
and others who are as well forgotten did iambics and spondees occasionally
for the Arena.
A change came in 1912, when the magazine dropped its muckraking and
turned to a major reliance on fiction, which was to last for a third of
a century. To be sure, Lewis and Russell kept, for a time, a brief "Progress
and Politics" department at the back of the book, and there was a series
of friendly articles about politicians by John Temple Gaves in 1914. Series
of reminiscences by the widows of two Civil War generals -- John A. Logan
and George E. Pickett -- indicate the trend toward feminine appeal. The
full-page stage beauties were retired, after long service, but the durable
Alan Dale was still allowed half a dozen illustrated pages about the theater.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox was a preferred contributor of verse and essays until
her death in 1919.
The Ladies' Home Journal
Thus the first issue appeared in December 1883, without serial numbering,
"conducted by Mrs. Louisa Knapp." Louisa Knapp was Mrs. Curtis's maiden
name. The supplement was called Ladies' Home Journal, to which was
added in the second issue the words and Practical Housekeeper. The
early numbers, small-folio in size, carried a woodcut illustration on the
front page, an installment of a serial, a short story, and departments
of recipes, household hints, fancywork, fashions in brief, and gardening.
The first serial was a sentimental two-part story by Ella Wheeler, whose
Poems of Passion had just brought her a kind of fame.
Bok began to improve the magazine as soon as he took over the editorship.
He already had a considerable literary acquaintance, which he enlarged
assiduously. T. De Witt Talmage, the popular preacher of the day, wrote
an article for each number. Eben E. Rexford, author of "Silver Threads
Among the Gold" and other sentimental ballads, did a department on flowers,
for which, it was reported, he received one hundred and twenty-five dollars
a column. Margaret E. Sangster, Julia War Howe, Grace Greenwood, Ella Wheeler
Wilcox, and Robert J. Burdette were frequent contributors.
Munsey's first serial by a well-known writer was a great hit
-- Hall Caine's "The Christian" (1896-1897). Soon after it had begun, F.
Marion Crawford's "Corleone" started its course through the magazine, and
serials by H. Rider Haggard and Anthony Hope followed. Juliet Wilbor Tompkins,
Myrtyle Reed, and Grace MacGowan Cooke contributed short stories, though
most Munsey writers in this field were unknowns. "Etchings" had
by this time been turned into a poetry department, to which Frank Dempster
Sherman, Bliss Carman, C.G.D. Roberts, Guy Wetmore Carryl, Ella Wheeler
Wilcox, Clinton Scollard, and others contributed light verse.
Woman's Home Companion
There was verse by James Whitcomb Riley, Eugene Field ("Little Boy
Blue," April 1, 1893), Susan Coolidge, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Helen Hunt
Jackson, and Frank Dempster Sherman.
Good Housekeeping's poets included Amy Lowell, Edna St. Vincent
Millay, Alfred Noyes, Ogden Nash, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
The Smart Set
Among the poets were the young Theodosia Garrison, the established
Bliss Carmen and Clinton Scollard, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox, whose name
still carried an aura of the shameless avowal that a former generation
had found in her Poems of Passion.