"Nearly all editors are men and women who would vastly prefer to write than to edit. A successful writer, as the late Ray Long once pointed out, has the freest vocation in the world. Armed only with paper, pencils, or typewriter, the writer can go anywhere, live anywhere, and be independent of office hours. If his work is good enough, he can command a much larger income than any editor who ever lived." — Harford Powel, Jr., onetime editor of Harper's Bazaar, Collier's, and the Youth's Companion, in the book "How to Write for a Living" (1937).
On this day (July 26) in 1956, The American Magazine announced that it would cease publication after 80 years, with its August issue. It had been founded in 1876 as Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly and went through several wildly different editorial incarnations in the decades that followed, including muckraking in the early 20th century and cheerleading for big business in the years leading up to the Great Depression. At the end it was more of a general-interest title, with reported circulation of 2-plus million.
Last week, for anyone who might be interested, I listed some of the online newspaper archives I've found useful in collecting information on magazines and their editors. The following general reference books are also helpful, especially in tracing the history of a particular magazine or editor over time:
Next time: More books.
Two other important editors who share Hibbs's birthday: Ruth Whitney, the highly respected editor of Glamour magazine for an astonishing 31 years (born in 1928) and Albert Shaw of Review of Reviews (born in 1857).
"[T]here are so many inexperienced and inept editors in the magazine business these days that what starts out as a competent piece often appears as a horror, and the writer is blamed by the unfortunate reader for the editor's bad grammar, lack of taste, and stupidity." — Richard Gehman, a well-known and famously prolific freelancer of his day, in his 1959 book "How to Write and Sell Magazine Articles."