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New Yorker, the


NEW YORKER, THE. Harold Ross (1892–1951) founded The New Yorker as a weekly magazine in New York City in 1925. Ross had quit high school to become a reporter, and during World War I he edited the Stars and Stripes, a military newspaper. The New Yorker was his attempt to create a "reflection in word and picture of metropolitan

life … with gaiety, wit, and satire." It was highly successful, weathering the Great Depression when many of its older competitors did not. Initially a humor magazine for urban sophisticates or those who wanted to become such, it dealt with social life and cultural events in Manhattan. The magazine quickly broadened its scope to include serious political and cultural topics, a shift in emphasis that became evident in the 1946 issue on Hiroshima, featuring an article by the novelist John Hersey. Under William Shawn, who took over as editor in chief in 1952, the New Yorker became known for its lengthy, probing journalistic essays while maintaining its stylistic flair and humor pieces. In 1987 Robert Gottlieb, a former book editor at Alfred A. Knopf and Company, succeeded Shawn. Tina Brown was brought on as editor in chief in 1992. Formerly the editor of Vanity Fair, which was seen as a more advertising-driven, less intellectual magazine, she was a controversial choice. The New Yorker had been facing some financial difficulties, and Brown increased coverage of popular culture, turned to slightly shorter articles, and revamped its look, changing the layout and including more color and photography. In 1998 David Remnick, a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1992, became its fifth editor in chief.

A typical issue of the New Yorker comprises "The Talk of the Town, " short pieces written anonymously for many years by E. B. White; reviews of books, movies, art, music, and theater; a short story, poetry, and cartoons; and often a "Letter" from a foreign correspondent or a "Profile" of a person, place, or thing. Several times a year a themed issue appears, focusing, for example, on fashion or fiction. The New Yorker has attracted numerous writers, including James Agee, Hannah Arendt, Rachel Carson, John Cheever, Janet Flanner, Wolcott Gibbs, Brendan Gill, Clement Greenberg, John Hersey, Pauline Kael, Alfred Kazin, A. J. Liebling, Andy Logan, Dwight Macdonald, Mary McCarthy, St. Clair McKelway, Lewis Mumford, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Ross, J. D. Salinger, Irwin Shaw, John Updike, and Edmund Wilson. Poets such as John Ashbery and Ogden Nashand fiction writers like John O'Hara, S. J. Perelman, and Eudora Welty have contributed as well. The New Yorker cartoonists have included Charles Addams, Alajalov, Peter Arno, Rea Irvin, who created the first cover featuring the monocled dandy Eustace Tilley, which is repeated on every anniversary, Art Spiegelman, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, and James Thurber.

The New Yorker was aimed at an audience primarily made up of white, liberal, well-educated, upper-middle-class professionals. Unlike the Nation, Harper's, and the Atlantic Monthly, older magazines with a similar audience, the New Yorker was subsidized primarily by advertising, not subscriptions. The magazine has been known for its liberal, if privileged, politics. During the McCarthy era the New Yorker was one of the few magazines bold enough to stand up to the anticommunists in print, mocking the language of the House Un-American Activities Committee, lamenting the decline of privacy, and even suggesting its own "un-American" tendencies according to the restrictive definitions. White wrote about the silliness of the word "un-American."

Numerous anthologies have been made of the different departments in the New Yorker. Insiders, such as Thurber, Gill, Ross, Emily Hahn, and Renata Adler, have written books about the experience of writing for the magazine. Two late-twentieth-century academic studies attempt to examine its readership and influence. The New Yorker has become one of the most prestigious venues for short fiction in the United States and an influential voice in American culture.


Corey, Mary F. The World through a Monocle: "The New Yorker" at Midcentury. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Gill, Brendan. Here at "The New Yorker." New York: Da Capo Press, 1997.

Yagoda, Ben. About Town: "The New Yorker" and the World It Made. New York: Scribners, 2000.


See alsoLiterature: Popular Literature .

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