Marden, Orison Swett 1850-1924

views updated

MARDEN, Orison Swett 1850-1924

PERSONAL: Born 1850, in Thornton, NH; died March 10, 1924 in Los Angeles, CA; son of Louis and Martha (Cilley) Marden; married Clare L. Evans; children: Orison Swett, Mary Newell, Laura Fletcher. Education: New Hampton Institute, New Hampton, NH, 1873; attended Andover Theological Seminary; Boston University, B.S., A.B., 1877, A.M., 1879; Harvard University, M.D., 1891, LL.B., 1882.

CAREER: Writer, author of motivational books, and businessman. Ocean View Hotel, Block Island, RI, manager; Manisses hotel, Block Island, owner; Success magazine, co-founder, 1897. Founded eating clubs at New Hampton Institute, Boston University, and Harvard University; Board of Trade, Kearney, NB, president.


Pushing to the Front: Success under Difficulties, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1894.

Architects of Fate; or Steps to Success, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1895.

How to Succeed, Christian Herald (New York, NY), 1896.

Rising in the World, Crowell (New York, NY), 1897.

Success: A Book of Ideas, Helps, and Examples for All Desiring to Make the Most of Life, Wilde (Boston, MA), 1897.

Secrets of Achievement, Crowell (New York, NY), 1898.

Character: The Grandest Thing in the World, Crowell (New York, NY), 1899.

Cheerfulness as a Life Power, Crowell (New York, NY), 1899.

Good Manners: A Passport to Success, Crowell (New York, NY), 1900.

The Hour of Opportunity, Crowell (New York, NY), 1900.

Economy: The Self-denying Depositor and Prudent Paymaster, Crowell (New York, NY), 1901.

How They Succeeded: Life Stories of Successful Men Told by Themselves, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1901.

An Iron Will, Crowell (New York, NY), 1901.

Talks with Great Workers, Crowell (New York, NY), 1901.

Stepping Stones: Essays for Everyday Living, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1902.

Little Visits with Great Americans, Success (New York, NY), 1903.

The Young Man Entering Business, Crowell (New York, NY), 1903.

Stories from Life, American Book (New York, NY), 1904.

Choosing a Career, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1905.

The Making of a Man, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1905.

Every Man a King, Crowell (New York, NY), 1906.

Success Nuggets, Crowell (New York, NY), 1906.

The Consolidated Library, Bureau of National Literature & Art (New York, NY), 1906.

The Power of Personality, Crowell (New York, NY), 1906.

The Optimistic Life, Crowell (New York, NY), 1907.

He Can Who Thinks He Can, Crowell (New York, NY), 1908.

Do It to a Finish, Crowell (New York, NY), 1909.

Lecture on the Deformity of the Civilized Foot, United Schools of Physical Culture (Battle Creek, MI), 1909.

Not the Salary but the Opportunity, Crowell (New York, NY), 1909.

Peace, Power, and Plenty, Crowell (New York, NY), 1909.

Why Grow Old?, Crowell (New York, NY), 1909.

Be Good to Yourself, Crowell (New York, NY), 1910.

Dickson's How to Speak in Public, Dickson School of Memory (Chicago, IL), 1910.

Getting On, Crowell (New York, NY), 1910.

The Miracle of Right Thought, Crowell (New York, NY), 1910.

Self-Investment, Crowell (New York, NY), 1911.

The Exceptional Employee, Crowell (New York, NY), 1913.

The Joys of Living, Crowell (New York, NY), 1913.

The Progressive Businessman, Crowell (New York, NY), 1913.

The Uplift Book of Child Culture, Physical Culture (Philadelphia, PA), 1913.

Training for Efficiency, Crowell (New York, NY), 1913.

Hints for Young Writers, Crowell (New York, NY), 1914.

I Had a Friend, Crowell (New York, NY), 1914.

Keeping Fit, Crowell (New York, NY), 1914.

Everybody Ahead, or, Getting the Most Out of Life, Crowell (New York, NY), 1914, published as Heading for Victory; or, Getting the Most out of Life, Morrison (New York, NY), 1920.

The Crime of Silence, Physical Culture (Philadelphia, PA), 1915.

Women and Home, Crowell (New York, NY), 1915.

Making Life a Masterpiece, Crowell (New York, NY), 1916.

Selling Things, Crowell (New York, NY), 1916.

The Victorious Attitude, Crowell (New York, NY), 1916.

How to Get What You Want, Crowell (New York, NY), 1917.

Love's Way, Crowell (New York, NY), 1918.

Thrift, Crowell (New York, NY), 1918.

Ambition and Success, Crowell (New York, NY), 1919.

Success Fundamentals, Crowell (New York, NY), 1920.

You Can, but Will You?, Crowell (New York, NY), 1920.

Masterful Personality, Crowell (New York, NY), 1921.

Prosperity, How to Attract It, Success (New York, NY), 1922.

Round Pegs in Square Holes, Crowell (New York, NY), 1922.

Self-Discovery: Why Remain a Dwarf?, Crowell (New York, NY), 1922.

Making Yourself, Crowell (New York, NY), 1923.

"It Won't Last": A Message for the Time, Crowell (New York, NY), 1924.

The Conquest of Worry, Crowell (New York, NY), 1924.

Making Friends with Our Nerves, Crowell (New York, NY), 1925.

The Secret of Achievement, Crowell (New York, NY), 1926.

SIDELIGHTS: Orison Marden, a keen businessman, founder of Success magazine, and the author of several dozen books on self-development, ambition, and success, inspired young men of his time across America.

Marden's mother died when he was three, and his father took care of the three children until injured in an outdoors accident. Louis Marden never fully recovered and died four years after the accident, leaving the children to their grandmother's care. Unable to care for the three children on her own, she agreed to having them "bound out" into different homes; Marden lived with five different foster families while growing up. With each family he was hungry, gained little sympathy, and worked twelve to fourteen hours each day.

One of Marden's guardians gave him permission to attend a preparatory school, Colby Academy, in New London, New Hampshire for a term. For the next several years he worked at various jobs to pay for school expenses, including kitchen work in a boarding house, lumbering, cutting classmates' hair, and tutoring.

After graduating from Colby Academy, Marden entered New Hampton Institute in New Hampshire, where he overcame his fear of public speaking and won oratory awards. Between terms he worked as a waiter in the Crawford House hotel complex. There, he met Frank A. Munsey, who would become a well-known magazine publisher. Upon returning to New Hampton, Marden opened an eating club.

After graduating from New Hampton Institute, Marden entered the Theological Seminary at Andover, Massachusetts, where he stayed for a year before entering Boston University. Marden founded the Boston University Club, an eating club for faculty and students, to help fund his education; he based it on a successful one he began at New Hampton. Again, his club was a success, and led to an invitation from Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot to establish one there. Marden, his management skills sharpened, was quickly promoted from clerk to manager at Ocean View Hotel in Block Island, Rhode Island. With the money he earned in management and catering, he bought a hotel, the Manisses, on the island. He continued to work for other hotels, and to work on the manuscripts he had begun while still a student.

During an economic boom, Marden moved to and invested heavily in hotels and other commercial properties in Kearney, Nebraska. He became a community leader of the community and president of the board of trade. He also helped those less fortunate. J. Douglas Tarpley wrote in Dictionary of Literary Biography, "His philanthropy earned him the admiration and affection of many townspeople. He regularly helped the needy, feeding at his hotel those who were unable to prepare their meals on special holidays, and assisted young men in bettering themselves socially and educationally."

A three-year drought in Nebraska and a fire that destroyed some of Marden's property and manuscripts in the East burdened Marden economically, but also spurred him to leave the hotel industry to concentrate on a writing career.

Marden published Pushing to the Front: Success under Difficulties, followed by Architect of Fate; or, Steps to Success. All three publishers to whom he submitted his first manuscript expressed interest. Houghton, Mifflin published Pushing to the Front to rave reviews. The book became a best seller, was reprinted many times, and was translated into several languages. In it, Marden discusses his own successes and those of others with similarly humble backgrounds.

In 1897, with the financial aid of Christian Herald publisher Louis Klopsch, Marden founded Success magazine to, as Tarpley quoted, "reach the largest number of people to give them a new philosophy of life." Success ran monthly until November 1898, as a weekly through the end of 1899, then as a monthly again from 1900 to 1912. Circulation continued to grow until the editorial content, then out of Klopsch's and Marden's hands and in those of financial backers, began to resemble that of the popular, more sensational magazines of the time. Success shut down in 1912.

In 1905, while Success was still flourishing under Marden and Klopsch, Marden married Clare L. Evans of Louisville, Kentucky and they lived in Glen Cove, Long Island. They had three children.

Marden continued writing motivational and business-related books, yet wanted to resurrect his magazine. In 1917 he got financial backing to renew the venture, and in January 1918, the new Success magazine was launched. This version was far more successful, even surviving the shaky publishing climate of World War I. Comforted by the financial and editorial success of the magazine but with his health failing, Marden retired in 1924. He and his wife traveled to Los Angeles for its warm climate, but soon after their arrival, Marden became severely ill and died that same year.



Connolly, Margaret, Life of Orison Swett Marden, Crowell (New York, NY), 1925.

Dictionary of American Biography, Scribner's (New York, NY) 1928-1936.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 137: American Magazine Journalists 1900-1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994, pp. 158-164.


New York Times, March 11, 1924.*

About this article

Marden, Orison Swett 1850-1924

Updated About content Print Article