"Look, my boy, I'm not an art critic, I'm an editor—and an editor is merely a panderer who brings the artist and his public together." — Dick Pepper, fictional editor of the fictional magazine The Townsman, in Joseph Fields' and Peter de Vries' play, and later movie, "The Tunnel of Love" (1958).
Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine, died suddenly of a heart ailment on this day (November 18) in 1909. Gilder, who was 66, was such a well-known public figure in his day that his death rated a prominent place on the front page of the next morning's New York Times. Like several other leading editors of the era, Gilder was also a poet.
"[A]s far as possible, avoid all personal dealings with editors and publishers. Should you be shabby, they may (for after all they were once men) think less of you; should you be in evident want of money, they will cut your price down; should you be nervous, they will paralyze you; and, beyond all else, their one and very reasonable desire will be to get rid of you as soon as possible..." — From "The Sorrows of Scribblers (Being the Confessions of a Magazine Contributor)," in The Eclectic Magazine, 1898.
A dozen years ago today, November 16, 2000, the owners of McCall's magazine announced that the venerable title, published since 1897, would henceforth be known as Rosie's McCall's, Rosie being the TV personality Rosie O'Donnell. Rosie magazine, as it would come to be called, lasted for about 18 months and ceased publication with its December 2002 issue, amid much acrimony.
It was on this day (November 15) in 1978 that New Times magazine announced it was ceasing publication after five years. A lively alternative to Time and Newsweek at its peak, New Times was known for investigative reporting and its list of the "10 Dumbest Congressmen."
Spy magazine, another spirited but short-lived title, revived the contest in 1989. Its honorees included the entire Senate delegation from the state of Virginia past and present.
Drivers shooting down U.S. 1 in Old Greenwich, Conn., might wonder what this monument and its near-twin across the road are doing there. Each is engraved with the names of several Conde Nast magazines (Glamour, House & Garden, Vanity Fair, Vogue), with "V"s replacing any "U"s, for a little extra grandeur.
What they are, it turns out, are relics of a long-gone printing plant that until 1964 printed not only the Conde Nast titles but other well-known magazines, including The New Yorker and Scientfic American. (Years later, The New Yorker would also become part of Conde Nast.)
An article on the Greenwich Library website tells the story of Conde Nast's Old Greenwich facility, which at one time employed 1,000 people. For anyone wishing to visit the pillars and pay their respects, the approximate address is 1800 E. Putnam Ave., in Old Greenwich.
"Kindness and helpfulness to beginners? Fudge. The keenest delight an editor knows is to torture and mortify beginners. He was kicked once himself, and he loves to pass the kicks on. It is human nature, and an editor is merely a bad specimen of humanity, after all. When an editor receives a contribution from a beginner he grins and gloats; he knows the misery of waiting he can inflict, and the thought rejoices his evil mind." — George Slythe Street, in his book "The Views of an Angry Man" (1902).
DeWitt Wallace, founder and first editor of The Reader's Digest, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on this day (November 12) in 1889. Though not the first digest magazine, Wallace's publication was almost certainly the most successful, at one time calling itself "the world's most widely read magazine." Wallace died in 1981, at age 91.
"There is a prevalent notion that the Magazine is made up from month to month from copy submitted in the shape of manuscripts by writers in all quarters of the globe, the selection and arrangement of these articles being committed to a responsible editor, who is a kind of Great Mogul, crowning or decapitating literary aspirants at his sovereign will and pleasure." — Harper's Monthly magazine, 1901.
"How often we recall with regret that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor and missed him and killed the publisher. But we remember with charity that his intentions were good." — Mark Twain, speaking at a dinner honoring the 70th birthday of longtime Harper’s Monthly editor Henry Mills Alden, November 10, 1906.