The Magazine That Taught Faulkner, Fitzgerald, And Millay How To Write

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The St. Nicholas of the early 1930s gives the impression of shielding itself from the worst effects of the Great Depression. For a while it looked as though the magazine could keep chugging along forever, powered by high purpose and energy. But though its readership in 1930 was a healthy 150,000, St. Nicholas was hit hard: advertisers disappeared, and the number of pages declined. In a final attempt to hold off disaster, the sophisticated magazine for young people that had counted Tennyson and Twain among its contributors became a magazine for little children. Even this did not forestall the end for long, and the final issue appeared in 1943.

By the time it perished, the magazine was undoubtedly an anachronism. Still, it is hard not to regret the absence of a St. Nicholas League to offer children in this age of television and video games “a great help and a great encouragement,” as it did to Edna St. Vincent Millay and so many other boys and girls.