"Editors are like other men; they generally know a valuable article from a worthless one; it is their duty and interest to guard the public against egotistic fools..." — Beecher's Magazine, published by J. A. Beecher, 1871.
"Many editors are like barking dogs: they bark at nothing, or, if they bark with good cause, keep on barking long after the excuse for barking has been removed." — Edgar Watson Howe, once famous as the "Sage of Potato Hill" and editor of E.W. Howe's Monthly.
"[E]ditors are like crops, they grow with time, and maturity is often far ahead." — Robert Hiram Henry, in his book "Editors I Have Known Since the Civil War," 1922. Henry seems to have been a newspaper editor.
"Whatever appears in a magazine should mainfest genius.... a magazine-editor should decline any contribution, even if the President wrote it, that is not obviously the work of a man of genius." — Alexander Harvey, editor of The Bang, quoted in The Literary Digest, 1916.
Dennis Flanagan, who helped reinvigorate Scientific American magazine and went on to edit it for 37 years, died on this day (January 14) in 2005. He was 85. Flanagan was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors' Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame in 1999. In his acceptance remarks at the ceremony, I remember him saying something to the effect of, "A magazine is the best toy a boy could ever have."
Today marks the 125th anniversary of the The National Geographic Society, founded in Washington, D.C., on January 13, 1888. The first issue of its magazine appeared that October, with a circulation of 200. Today's circulation is about 8 million copies a month, very few of which are ever thrown away.
Clara Savage Littledale, the founding editor of Parents magazine, died on this day (January 9) in 1956. She was 64. Parents launched in 1921 as Children, the Magazine for Parents before shortening its title to the one we know. Littledale edited it for 30 years. Also on her resume: the unlikely job of war correspondent for Good Housekeeping magazine during WWI.
It was on this day (January 8) in 1992 that Hearst announced that Connoisseur magazine would close after its February issue. Founded in England in 1901 as The Connoisseur, it was purchased in 1927 by William Randolph Hearst, a connoisseur, or at least collector, if there ever was one. The late Thomas Hoving edited the magazine from 1981 to 1991.
Eric Hodgins, an early editor of Fortune magazine, died on this day (January 7) in 1971. His posthumously published "Trolley to the Moon" (1973), is among the most interesting and moving memoirs by any editor, though it was incomplete at the time of his death. Hodgins's friend, the economist and onetime Fortune writer, John Kenneth Galbraith supplied both a foreword and an afterword to fill in some of the gaps. Hodgins was also a bestselling novelist, whose "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" was made into a popular movie with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Marveling at his own good fortune, Hodgins said the novel "wrote itself" in about two and a half months and made him "pots of money."